Russian Authorities Ban Armando Iannucci's 'Death of Stalin'

Courtesy of TIFF
'The Death of Stalin'

The country's culture ministry withdrew the exhibition license for the cold war satire following complaints after an industry screening.

Russia's culture ministry withdrew the exhibition license of Armando Iannucci's cold war satire The Death of Stalin on Tuesday, state-run news agency TASS reported.

The decision followed a closed screening of the movie on Monday, which featured members of the local film industry, representatives of the Russian Historic Society and members of the State Duma, the lower chamber of the Russian Parliament.

Based on the screening, a number of public figures called on the culture ministry to withdraw the movie's exhibition license as it "distorted historic events" and "made fun of Soviet symbols," Meduza news magazine reported.

"I've never seen anything more despicable," Yelena Drapeko, a Duma member and former actress who was at the screening, was quoted as saying by Interfax news agency. "This is total libel, provocation aimed at persuading us that our country and our people are horrible and our rulers are idiots."

The Death of Stalin was scheduled to be released on Jan. 25 by Volga. The distributor was not immediately available for comment.

Back in September, Russia's Communist Party, the second largest in Parliament, called for a ban on the movie as it "discredits" the late Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. However, no action was taken at that time.

The Death of Stalin is a black comedy focused on partially fictional in-fighting in the Kremlin that followed Stalin’s death in 1953.

The movie features Steve Buscemi as Nikita Khrushchev, the successor of Stalin, and Michael Palin as Vyacheslav Molotov, the top Soviet diplomat.