Russian Directors Propose Nationalist Fast Food Chain

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Nikita Mikhalkov

Directors Nikita Mikhalkov and Andrei Konchalovsky want to give Russians a patriotic alternative to a Big Mac.

Two Russia directors known for the anti-Western rhetoric want to give their countrymen a nationalist alternative to American burger joints.

Oscar-winning director Nikita Mikhalkov and his brother Andrei Konchalovsky, the winner of the best director’s Silver Lion at last year’s Venice film festival, plan to launch a chain of fast food restaurants as "an alternative to McDonald’s." The two filmmakers, known who have railed against Western popular culture in the past, have requested state investment in the project.

The Russian business daily Kommersant published excerpts from a letter sent by Mikhalkov and Konchalovsky to president Vladimir Putin, in which they requested an investment of $18.5 million (971.8 million rubles), stressing the project's "social and political nature."

"The aim of the project is facilitating replacement of imports and creation of an alternative to Western fast food chains," reads the letter, quoted by Kommersant.

The fast food chain would operate under the brand Edim Doma (Eating at Home) and would be owned by Konchalovsky's wife, actress and TV host Yulia Vysotskaya.

Mikhalkov, who won an Oscar in 1995 for Burnt by the Sun, has been an ardent supporter of the Kremlin's policy towards Ukraine and Crimea and last year said that "anyone who says Crimea is not Russian is the enemy."

Konchalovsky, who worked in Hollywood in the 1980s, directing several features including Sylvester Stallone/Kurt Russell starrer Tango and Cash (1989) has harshly criticized the U.S. film industry in recent years. Last year, he pulled his Venice-winning film The Postman's White Nights from consideration as Russia's entry in the foreign language Oscar race, saying he didn't want his film to compete for a "Hollywood" award whose importance was "overblown."

"Contemporary audiences were raised on Hollywood," Konchalovsky said while explaining his refusal to release his film theatrically. "They eat popcorn, which crunches in their heads."

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