Moscow Fest Affected by Sanctions Against Russia

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Nikita Mikhalkov

Some producers chose not to screen their films at Russia's main international film event, which began on Thursday.

MOSCOW — The Moscow International Film Festival, which kicked off yesterday, is feeling the heat of international sanctions against Russia. Some foreign producers wouldn't let their films be screened, and the foreign guest list is shorter this year.

"Problems linked to the sanctions against us have arrived," the festival's president, veteran director Nikita Mikhalkov, told reporters. "Some people are cautious and some are scared [to come]. And this has had an impact on the festival, I have to admit. It would be strange if it didn't as [the sanctions] have had an impact on [all of] Russia."

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He declined to specifically name any films that had been pulled or people that refused to come to Moscow, however.

The festival has had difficulties attracting big international names and high-profile pictures to its official selection for years. But as the sanctions slapped on several Russian top officials and companies by the United States and the European Union following the annexation of Crimea earlier this year don't apply to cultural events, several U.S. and European films still are participating in the festival's various sections.

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According to Mikhalkov, who has strongly supported the Kremlin's stand on Ukraine and Crimea, the change in international attitudes toward Russia could be still viewed in a positive light.

"This is unpleasant, but there is something positive about it," he said. "There is a real necessity to look at ourselves. I personally feel a desire to be independent and express protest against the idea to 'punish' Russia."