Disney, Sony to Release Foreign-Language Oscar Contender 'Paradise' in Russia

Courtesy of Venice International Film Festival

Director Andrei Konchalovsky refused to release his previous film theatrically, citing his hatred for "popcorn-munching viewers."

WDSSPR, Disney and Sony Pictures' Russian distribution venture, has picked up for theatrical release Andrei Konchalovsky's Paradise, a Venice winner and Russia's submission in the best foreign-language film Oscar race.

The move surprised many as two years ago, Konchalovsky refused to release theatrically his previous film, The Postman's White Nights, which also won him the best director Silver Lion at Venice.

Back then, he said he didn't want it to be watched by "popcorn-munching," "Hollywood" audiences.

Eventually, the film premiered on Russia's state-controlled TV network, Channel One.

Similarly, Konchalovsky withdrew The Postman from consideration as Russia's possible submission to the Oscars. But he made an about-face this year, making no objections to Paradise's selection.

However, he apparently hasn't changed his attitude about Hollywood, where he worked in the 1980s, or the Oscars.

"Honestly, I'm not worried about the Oscars," he was quoted as saying by the state-run news agency TASS. "What I am worried about is that over the last two years, Western viewers have been constantly told that there is nothing worse and more dangerous in the world than Russia."

"I agreed [to selection of Paradise as Russia's entry] only because over the last two years, there has been a smear campaign against our country, saying that 'Putin is a tyrant,' 'the [Russian] people is stupid,' 'there is no culture' and even 'the Americans won WWII,' " he added.

WDSSPR has not responded to a request for comment.

The Russian release of Paradise is tentatively scheduled for January, but a precise date will depend upon whether the film is short-listed for the foreign-language Oscar.

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