Russia's Culture Minister Renews Call for Limits on Hollywood Movie Imports

Russia: “Stalingrad” Surprise

70 years after the Red Army defeated the Nazis at the Battle of Stalingrad, local audiences stormed theaters to see Fedor Bondarchuk's lavish 3D retelling of the epic story familiar to every Russian school kid. The film took some flak for its portrayal of German soldiers – “too sympathetic” moaned hard core nationalists – but it conquered the box office, earning more than $66 million in Russia and the CIS, making it the biggest local language film of all time in the territory.

Vladimir Medinsky draws a comparison to Soviet times, when only six U.S. movies a year were allowed to be released in the country.

MOSCOW -- Russian culture minister Vladimir Medinsky on Tuesday renewed a call for the introduction of an annual cap for imported movies.

Medinsky spoke in favor of introducing quotas on Hollywood imports pegged to the number of local releases, an idea that has been floated here for over a couple of years. This time around, however, the government could act, as the minister said that "without [a cap], it is impossible to help the Russian film sector."

The decision on whether to develop a draft law on film quotas is expected to be made over the next few weeks, based on 2013 box office results.

STORY: Local Movies Roar at Russian Box Office

The minister didn't specify any figures on Tuesday, but past talk has focused on ensuring that 20 to 24 percent of screen time of all films released every year in Russia goes to homegrown titles.

Defending his stance on quotas, Medinsky cited an example from the Soviet era, when no more than six U.S. movies per year were allowed to be released in the Soviet Union.

The minister also spoke out in favor of empowering the country's cinema fund to improve international collaboration. He said that the Russian cinema fund is to be in charge of such collaboration, and of the promotion of local fare internationally. "All international activities are given to the fund," he said. "It has more resources."

The statement comes less than a year after the liquidation of the fund's international department as part of a reshuffle, which was widely believed to be initiated by the culture ministry.

As a result, several international collaboration initiatives -- including Russian-German, Russian-French and Russian-Italian film academies and a Russian-German co-production fund -- were canceled.