Nikita Mikhalkov Calls for Changes to Russian Oscar Committee

The naming of his film "Citadel" as Russia's entry in the Oscar race stirred controversy.

WARSAW -- Responding to last month’s controversy over naming his movie Citadel as Russia’s entry in the foreign language Oscar race, director Nikita Mikhalkov has proposed changes to the country’s Oscar committee that he believes would make a situation of that kind impossible in the future.

The Russian Oscar committee should only include directors and producers whose films were Oscar winners or nominees or collected prizes at major international festivals, Mikhalkov told in an interview with the Russian daily Rossiyskaya Gazeta.

“The [best foreign language film Oscar] is awarded to the director and producer,” he said. “So, it would be logical if the committee is made up only of people of those two professions. And it will be also right if the Oscar committee only includes those whose films won Oscars or were nominated, or won main prizes in the official competitions of major international film festivals.”

Mikhalkov also offered a list of 29 people who comply with the criteria, which features, among others, himself, directors Alexander Sokurov and Andrei Zvyagintsev, and producers Igor Tolstunov and Alexander Rodnyansky.

Controversy over Citadel stirred a month ago, when chair of the Russian Oscar committee, director Vladimir Menshov (who, incidentally, won the best foreign film Oscar for his movie Moscow Doesn’t Believe in Tears back in 1981), refused to sign the protocol, saying the film should not represent Russia in the Oscar race as it was a critical flop and nosedived at the box office. Menshov called on Mikhalkov to pull the film out, but he refused.