Russian film funding in limbo

Culture and cinema agency is disbanded

MOSCOW -- Question marks hung over future state funding of Russian films Tuesday after the agency for culture and cinema was disbanded amid a restructuring of the Russian government.

When Vladimir Putin took over the prime minister's office Monday following the end of his term as the nation's president, he announced a new set of government structures -- but the agency for culture and cinema was no longer there. Its functions have instead been transferred to the ministry of culture.

It is not clear how this will affect the government's support of domestic cinema, which this year was said to stand at 3 billion rubles ($127 million). A spokesperson for the disbanded agency could not comment.

Earlier this year, the agency spoke about stepping up support for domestic cinema. Speaking at an industry conference in Kiev in late April, Sergei Lazaruk, agency deputy head, said that the state was participating in the financing of about 210 feature films in various stages of production and 70 projects had been approved for support in 2008 and '09. There were plans to introduce cash bonuses to film production companies that make commercially successful movies.