Russia Cuts Film Funding Amid Economic Downturn

AP Images

As the ruble loses value, a 10 percent decline in funding was unveiled.

The Russian government has announced a 10 percent cut in funding for the film industry in 2016, which is to be further exacerbated by the local currency, the ruble, sharply losing its value.

Film funding is to be cut from 5.2 billion rubles ($77.7 million) in 2015 to 4.8 billion rubles ($71.7 million) next year, said the culture ministry.

However, the cut is going to be even more substantial as the Russian ruble is quickly losing its value, while many of the film industry's expenses are in U.S. dollars or Euros. Over the last three months, the ruble has lost one-third of its value against the U.S. dollar.

Russian filmmakers have heavily depended on the government for funding over the last few years. Private investors pulled from the industry in the wake of 2008's global economic downturn and never returned. Major TV stations, which actively backed movies intended for theatrical releases in the mid-2000s, have recently funded only a handful of top-level projects, preferring to focus on television content.

In this environment, the government has encouraged filmmakers to look for other sources of funding, such as co-production. Roskino, a government agency for international film promotion, recently announced a development grant for co-productions between Russia and other countries, to be launched at the Venice Film Festival.

The cut applies to film funding administered by the cinema fund and the culture ministry. Recently, the government promised support for a project of building a chain of "patriotic" cinemas around the country, but cash for that project is yet to be released.