A Soviet era photo and cinema research institute, NIKFI, was selected late last year as the venue for the world-class collection, but culture minister VladimirMedinsky has now ruled the site unfit.
The decision, which comes after museum heads spent weeks drawing up detailed plans for the venue, puts a cloud over the future of an institution that has won the support of such high-profile Hollywood figures as Quentin Tarantino.
Naum Kleiman, the 76-year-old founder and head of the museum — who last year fought off an attempt by Medinksy to be forcibly retired — dubbed the minister’s decision “shameful.”
“I am ashamed of such a minister,” Kleiman said.
“The current situation around the Cinema Museum once again proves the incompetence of the people who think they run culture,” he said. “They do not realize that without traditions of our cinema, and without initiation to the history of world cinema, there will be no revival of modern cinema.”
Medinsky, appointed by President Vladimir Putin two years ago, is a controversial historian who has written books blaming negative perceptions of Russia on western propaganda.
He has upset many in Russia’s film industry through a series of unpopular moves, including the takeover last year of the country’s Cinema Fund. Earlier this week, he mentioned in a speech that he would like to restrict the distribution of Hollywood and foreign films and bring in a quota system designed to protect local production.
The future of the museum’s collection has been in doubt since it was forced out of premises under the control of the cinema union several years ago. It has been temporarily housed at Moscow’s Mosfilm Studios.