Russian Officials Push for a Ban on Films That "Demonize" Their Country

Paramount Pictures Corporation
'Titanic' was the first huge Hollywood hit in Russia.

Meanwhile, 'Titanic' and 'Apocalypse Now' are on a list of "recommended" foreign films

While the idea of stricter control over the image of Russia and Russians in foreign films has been floated by top officials time and again over the last few years, the first concrete proposal aimed at banning foreign films that "demonize" Russia was recently made by Batu Khasikov, a member of the culture committee at Russia's Federation Council, the upper chamber of Parliament.

"Specific requirements should be introduced for film exhibition in the country, and movies where everything related to Russia is overtly demonized or shown in a primitive and silly way should be banned from theatrical distribution," he was quoted as saying by the Russian news agency Interfax.

Khasikov did not mention any specific titles, only stressing that movies in which "at the screenwriter's and director's whim, Russians are portrayed as a threat to humanity, don't deserve an exhibition license."

The proposal comes at a time when anti-Western rhetoric in Russia is at its highest point in more than 25 years, which significantly raises the probability of its enactment. If enforced, though, the ban would affect only new films applying for distribution licenses.

Meanwhile, Russia's culture ministry has publish a list of 100 foreign movies that it recommends for watching. It features many Hollywood titles, including Apocalypse Now, Cabaret, The Last Emperor and Titanic. Some independent local media noted that recommending Apocalypse Now may not exactly be in line with Russia's current policies.

"It is strange [to see on the list] an antiwar film that slams the policy of capturing foreign territories," read a story in Nezavisimaya Gazeta.