Fundraiser Established for Piracy-Afflicted Russian Golden Globe Winner 'Leviathan'

Best Foreign Film

Force Majeure (Sweden)
Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem (France)
Ida (Poland)
Leviathan (Russia)
Tangerines (Estonia)

Viewers who watched the most anticipated Russian film in recent times illegally online have been encouraged to donate.

Following the leak of Golden Globe winner Leviathan's on Russian piracy sites, a local producer unrelated to the film has set up a website to collect voluntary donations from those who have illegally downloaded the movie.

In a situation that is highly unusual for the Russian film industry, independent digital producer Slava Smirnov set up the website, aimed at collecting donations, explaining his move as a desire to fight pirated distribution and make sure that users pay for online content.

"Piracy harms production of content, so it's vital that creators are compensated and online content is paid for in one way or another," Smirnov said on his Facebook account. "I promise that all collected money will be handed over to the film's crew."

The website was set up on Tuesday, and money collection is to continue through February 5, Leviathan's official release date in Russia.

Alexander Rodnyansky, Leviathan's producer, was quoted by the Russian news agency RIA Novosti as saying that the film crew had nothing to do with the initiative but welcomed it.

"We are very grateful for this show of empathy," he said, adding that all the cash collected through the web site will be directed to the children's charitable fund Give Them Life, run by actress Chulpan Khamatova.

Leviathan, arguably the most anticipated Russian movie in recent times, won the best screenplay award at Cannes and Russia's first Golden Globe since 1969. The pirated online release of the movie, which deals with acute social issues, caused a massive discussion in the Russian press and the social media, with some people hailing it as a masterpiece and others accusing the film of presenting Russia in a negative light. Officials from the Russian government snubbed the movie claiming that they had problems with the level of profanity in the film. 

A pirated copy of the film appeared on Russian torrents on January 11, just hours before Leviathan was announced as a Golden Globe winner in the best foreign language film category. Producers attributed the leak to a DVD sent to one of Academy members as Leviathan was also nominated for the best foreign language film Oscar.