Ban on Shooting Foreign Films Proposed in Russia

The move comes among dubious initiatives aimed at giving a boost to the local film sector.

MOSCOW – In a series of debatable initiatives aimed at strengthening the Russian film industry, a piece of legislation that bans shooting of foreign films on Russian territory has been proposed.

The draft law “On the Film Industry of the Russian Federation,” submitted to the State Duma, the lower chamber of Russian parliament, stipulates that all films are to be divided into “national,” “co-produced” and “foreign,” and films of the third category are not to be allowed to be shot in Russia.

“The problem of the Russian film exhibition is that 80 percent to 85 percent of all releases are foreign, mostly American,” Dmitry Litvintsev of the populist Liberal Democrat Party, who penned the draft law, was quoted as saying by the business daily Vedomosti. “As a result, the Russian film industry is not developing and is unable to compete with Western film industries.”

While some high-profile foreign movies have been shot on Russian territory over the last few years, their number is still relatively small due to a lack of a tax incentive system and high production costs in two major film-industry centers, Moscow and St Petersburg.

In accordance with the draft law, a “national” film has to have at least 60 percent of Russian funding and at least 70 percent of the main crew members are to be Russian. “Co-produced” films shot on Russian territory are to have at least 40 percent of Russian nationals among the main crew members and at least 60 percent among the cast.

The draft law goes a few steps further than another piece of legislation, proposed several weeks ago and stipulating a 20 percent quota for local films in theaters. Under the new document, the proportion of “foreign” films at the Russian box office is not to exceed 20 percent -- a highly unrealistic figure given that in 2012, Russian movies accounted for only 15 percent of the total box office.

A timeframe for considering the draft law has not yet been set.