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Screenings of the Cannes prize-winning film Donbass, which deals with a sensitive issue of a military conflict in East Ukraine, were canceled in Moscow this past weekend.
Sergei Loznitsa’s feature, for which he collected the best director’s award in the Un Certain Regard section at Cannes this year, was scheduled to be screened at Garage contemporary art museum on Saturday and Sunday. However, the organizers canceled the screening at the last moment, claiming the change was due to “technical” reasons.
Meanwhile, the Russian network REN TV reported that the true reason for the cancellation was the absence of an exhibition license, to which the culture ministry pointed, warning the museum from screening the film.
To be screened in Russia, any movie needs to have an exhibition license issued by the culture ministry. But in the past, authorities have often turned a blind eye to screenings held at venues other than movie theaters, such as museums and art centers.
Donbass might be a special case, however, as the portrayal of pro-Russian rebels in the film differs substantially from official Russian reports.
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