Controversy Erupts Over Russia’s Oscar Entry

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Nikita Mikhalkov is asked to pull his film "Burnt by the Sun 2: Citadel" because critics and audiences hated the film -- one of the country's biggest box office flops.

MOSCOW - The Russian film community is waiting for the solution to a major controversy that has erupted over Russia’s entry in the foreign language Oscar race, as actor/director Vladimir Menshov, head of the national Oscar committee, called on Nikita Mikhalkov to pull out his film, Burnt by the Sun 2: Citadel, approved by a majority vote.

“I’m waiting [for Mikhalkov to respond], but the film is being prepared to be sent out,” Menshov told a news conference in Moscow on Wednesday. “Formally, the procedure was observed.”

In accordance with the Russian Oscar Committee rules, Mikhalkov has until Oct. 1 to pull the film out. On Wednesday, he was not available for comment.

Earlier this week, the majority of the Russian Oscar committee members voted for Citadel, but Menshov’s vehemently opposed the decision. “Even if we ignore the fact that audiences and critics hated the film, Citadel is part of a series,” he was quoted as saying by Moskovskiye Novosti daily. “How can anyone who is out of the context make any sense of it?”

Citadel, which was released last May, was one of the year’s biggest flops at the Russian box office. The $45 million second part of the Burnt by the Sun 2 saga grossed only $1.5 million in local theaters. Meanwhile, back in 1995, Mikhalkov’s Burnt by the Sun, to which the current film is a sequel, won the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar.