Russia's main film festival under threat

Kinotavr co-owner, major sponsor pull out

MOSCOW -- The future of Russia's main film festival, Kinotavr, is unclear following the exit of co-owner Igor Tolstunov and one of the festival's main sponsors, the cell phone operator Vympelcom.

Just weeks before the 21st edition of Kinotavr is scheduled to kick off in the Black Sea resort of Sochi on June 6, the news has come that Tolstunov, one of the festival's two co-owners, has sold his share to the other partner, Alexander Rodnyansky, for an undisclosed sum, while Vympelcom is discontinuing support for the festival to focus on more sales-related projects.

Tolstunov didn't give explanations for his pullout, and Rodnyansky told the Gazeta paper that this year's fest is to go ahead as planned, as he is providing $2.5 million out of his own pocket and another 7 million roubles ($241,000) is coming from the culture ministry and local authorities.

Future editions of the event will depend on finding a new major sponsor or securing support from the central government.
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