Russian Documentary Filmmakers Protest Newly-Proposed Regulations

New regulation changes would require filmmakers to secure broadcast deals before applying for state subsidies.

MOSCOW -- Russian documentary filmmakers have addressed Prime Minister Dmitry Medvevev, protesting against proposed new subsidy regulations, under which they would have to secure a TV deal before applying for state money.

"We believe that this initiative means death for documentary films as an item of national culture," reads a letter of protest.

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The Russian culture ministry has recently published proposed changes to regulations for documentary film subsidiaries, under which producers applying for state cash would have to prove that they would be able to get the film broadcasted on a national free-to-air channel. The ministry said that the measure would help to increase visibility of local documentaries, many of which never get a TV broadcast or theatrical release.

But, according to the authors of the letter, local TV networks have their own documentary production and are not interested in buying documentaries from independent filmmakers.

"The introduction of new regulations threatens to completely destroy independent documentary filmmaking, which is considered part of national culture all over the world," reads the letter further.

The filmmakers added that even most prominent Russian documentaries, which collected international awards and did well as limited releases over 2012 and 2013, haven't been broadcasted by national free-to-air networks.

"We ask you to bring this issue up for discussion by the expert community and at least add alternative distribution options to the regulations," concludes the letter.