Crimea Annexation Film Announced in Russia

Taisia Igumentseva, the winner of Cannes' Cinéfondation First Prize for her short student film, is attached to the project.

MOSCOW -- A feature about the annexation of Crimea has been announced in Russia, with up-and-coming director Taisia Igumentseva, a winner of a student film award at Cannes, attached to the project.

Anatoly Sivushov, general producer of the film company Avatar Film, mostly known for its successful crime TV series Brigada (Brigade), announced the project, saying that its budget is to be $4 million, part of which the company plans to obtain as a state subsidy.

"We would like to tell a story of real people, to focus primarily on the human angle," Sivushov was quoted as saying by the Russian newspaper RBK Daily.

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"This topic has concerned millions of people for a long time, and I think that it is very current and presents a big opportunity for creative activity," Igumentseva said on the air of the radio station Business FM.

In 2012, Igumentseva collected the Cinéfondation First Prize for her short student film Doroga Na (The Road To) at Cannes, and her debut feature, Otdat Kontsy (Bite the Dust), was premiered at Cannes last year.

The news of the 25-year-old director being attached to the project stirred controversy on social media in Russia, with many accusing her of signing up to do a propaganda film for the Kremlin.

She responded to critics by saying that no contract had been signed and that it was too early to discuss the issue.

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Avatar Film applied to Russia's culture ministry for funding but was turned down, as the application deadline for this year had already passed. However, the ministry suggested that the company could still apply for funding to Russia's other agency administering state cash for the film industry, the Cinema Fund.

Meanwhile, filmmaker Artur Moryakov, who was filming an unauthorized rally by Crimean Tatars, was detained in Crimea yesterday. Last week, director Oleg Sentsov was arrested in Crimea and brought to Moscow, where he is currently being held at Lefortovo prison. He is accused of plotting a terrorist attack. Russian and Ukrainian filmmakers have demanded that he be released.