Russian Culture Ministry Gets a New Film Boss

Ivan Demidov has been sidelined, at the request of protesting top directors, while Vyacheslav Telnov is placed in charge of cinema.

SOCHI – Less than 24 hours after Russia’s culture minister announced the endgame in the takeover the country’s state film fund worth an annual $170 million, the official put in charge has been moved sideways.

Unhappy with the choice of Ivan Demidov, a former television show frontman and political functionary whose views on the sort of films that deserve funding are regarded as even more conservative than those of culture minister Vladimir Medinsky, a group of “top Russian directors” lobbied Kremlin officials close to President Vladimir Putin for a different choice.

Within hours, Demidov was sidelined to a general cultural brief and producer and Kremlin loyalist Vyacheslav Telnov put in charge of cinema.

Telnov -- aided by Elena Lapina, until Thursday Demidov’s deputy at the ministry and widely respected for her extensive experience in film industry policy -- will now direct cinema strategy and funding decisions under the overall control of Medinsky.

Telnov is regarded as an affable representative of Kremlin policy, but much day-to-day work in the department is likely to come under the direction of Lapina.

Film industry sources in Sochi for the 24th annual Russian national film festival, Kinotavr, who preferred to remain anonymous, said the situation would be laughable if it did not affect such an important cultural arena.

“There is no system here at all, everything comes down to personal contacts,” one seasoned industry observer told The Hollywood Reporter.