Russian Film Funding System Undergoes Changes

The culture ministry’s role in state cash distribution is to increase, while co-production funding is not to be reduced.

MOSCOW -- Changes to the Russian film funding system are raising the role of the culture ministry in administering state cash, but co-production is unlikely to suffer.

On Dec. 4, at a meeting between deputy prime minister Vladislav Surkov, officials from the culture ministry and the Russian Cinema Fund and local producers, decisions about government funding for the film sector in 2013 were made.

The total amount of state cash to be paid to filmmakers is to stay just about the same as in 2012, 5.3 billion rubles ($172 million). However, the culture ministry is to administer 2.3 billion rubles ($74.7 million) against this year’s figure of 1.5 billion rubles ($48.7 million), while the Cinema Fund’s budget is to be reduced from 3.9 billion rubles ($126.6 million) to 3 billion rubles ($97.4 million).

Another substantial change is to be that one third of the Cinema Fund’s budget is to be paid back by producers either in cash or by sharing profits with the agency. In addition, the culture ministry is to have a say on what projects and producers are to receive non-repayable subsidies.

Under the current system, the culture ministry primarily spends cash on auteur cinema, first features and children’s films, while the Cinema Fund provides funding to the “top 10” selected production companies, including Fyodor Bondarchuk’s Art Pictures and Nikita Mikhalkov’s TRITE, and finances “socially significant” films.

Rumors about changes to the cinema funding system, which had been circulating since mid-November, raised concerns that funding for co-productions, channeled primarily through the Cinema Fund, could be curtailed. However, Ivan Demidov, deputy culture minister in charge of the film industry, refuted the rumors at a recent conference at the culture ministry.

“We are for co-production,” he was quoted as saying by “Making commercially successful films, including co-productions, is exactly the Cinema Fund’s goal.”

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