Russian producers oppose support plan

$170 mil to go to companies with best B.O. record

MOSCOW -- The Russian guild of producers is opposing plans to distribute 4.9 billion roubles ($170 million) in state support for the film industry, earmarked for 2010, between several production companies with the best boxoffice record.

The guild's general director Yuri Plechev told THR that the organization will write to both the president and prime minister as soon as it obtains the full text of the proposal. The proposal was first aired at a session of the government council for development of the local film industry, headed by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, earlier this month.

Under the proposal, state funding would go to film production companies, on the basis of their recent films' boxoffice performance, rather than to individual projects.

"The vast majority of the guild's members are persuaded that the government should support individual projects, as is the case elsewhere in the world, rather than companies," Plechev said.

Meanwhile, even companies that would profit from the plan, say that state funds could be used in a better way. "If they give us [money], we certainly won't turn it down," Georgy Malkov, general director of the Leopolis film company, told THR. "But our producers as well as other domestic producers of commercially successful films believe that state support should be primarily spent on the creation an effective and transparent distribution system."

According to Dmitry Meskhiyev, general director of Russian World Studios – St. Petersburg, what is important is that the situation with state funding for the local film industry has begun to slowly unlock from the stalemate, in which it has been since last May, when the federal service for culture and cinema was dissolved. "And it is good that the government cares about the situation in the film industry," Meskhiyev said.

"I'm not against [the proposals] as long as clear-cut mechanisms and criteria are developed," he added. "And it's quite likely that any new system is to be installed only in 2011, as the development of a scheme for distributing substantial funds in the month left till the year's end, isn't feasible."