Two Russian Films Banned in Ukraine

The country's state cinema agency will check all Russian movies applying for Ukrainian exhibition licenses, claiming they may portray Ukraine and its people in a "distorted" way.

MOSCOW – Ukraine's state cinema agency has banned two new Russian movies for release in the country, citing the backdrop of an "information war" between the two countries as fighting continues in East Ukraine between the government and Russian-speaking rebels.

The agency said the two banned films - Poddubny, a biopic on Ukraine-born Soviet wrestler Ivan Poddubny, and Belaya Gvardiya (White Guard), set in Ukraine during the Russian Civil war of 1918-1922 -  show Ukraine and its people in a "distorted" way.

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"(The films) show contempt for Ukrainian language, people and state," the state agency said in a statement, adding that some historic facts contained in them were "distorted in favor of Russia." Both movies were denied exhibition licenses in Ukraine "with a goal of protecting national interests," according to the agency.

The agency added that an expert commission in Ukraine will now check all films produced in Russia applying for a Ukrainian exhibition license to make sure that they comply with Ukrainian law. It added that the new measures were a bid to counteract what it called aggressive foreign propaganda.

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A number of Russian movies have been banned in Ukraine since the conflict between the two countries erupted earlier this year. One of the first to be barred was Alexei Uchitel's Vosmerka (Breaking Loose), which looks at a group of Russian riot police officers.

Denis Ivanov, head of the distribution company Arthouse Traffic, told The Hollywood Reporter that in this situation "patriotic" Russian movies glorifying the Russian army and security forces are unlikely to be exhibited in Ukraine, while most other releases shouldn't be affected.