Russian Filmmakers Call to Revise a Bill Banning Profanity in Movies

International Film Festival Rotterdam
"The Hope Factory" remains unreleased in Russia due to the profanity ban

They insist that the existing ban should be replaced with age restrictions.

Several leading Russian filmmakers have called on Prime Minster Dmitry Medvedev to revise a controversial bill banning profanity in movies. The bill was adopted last year.

In their address, the filmmakers, including Oscar-winning director Nikita Mikhalkov and Fyodor Bondarchuk, hired to direct Odysseus for Warner Bros., argued that the use of profanity could in some cases be justified by artistic considerations and that it would be enough to have an "18+" age restriction for movies containing bad language as opposed to the existing ban.

While Medvedev is yet to reply to the letter, some members of the State Duma, the lower chamber of Russian parliament, said no revision of the controversial bill was necessary.

Among the most ardent supporters of the bill was veteran director Stanislav Govorukhin, head of the Duma's culture committee and co-chairman of the pro-Kremlin movement United People's Front (UPF).

"If we do [what the filmmakers proposed], we can go too far," UPF's press service quoted him as saying. "First we allow profanity in movies, then in literature and theater and the next step would be allowing religious caricatures."

The bill banning bad language in movies stirred a lot of controversy, as no movie containing profanity could be released in Russia as of July 1, 2014. As a result, Andrey Zvyagintsev's Golden Globe-winning and Oscar-nominated Leviathan will be released in a censored version on Feb. 5.

Meanwhile, some directors refused to make any changes to their films, like Natalia Meshchaninova, whose Kombinat Nadezhda (The Hope Factory), a participant in last year's Rotterdam Film Festivals, remains unreleased in Russia.