Ukraine's National Film Agency Appoints New Head

Filipp Ilyenko is taking the reins at a difficult time for the cash-strapped industry.

MOSCOW — Filipp Ilyenko, a producer and the son of a prominent Ukrainian film director, has been appointed head of the country's film agency in a move that local filmmakers hope will end a six-month period of uncertainty over state funding for the sector.

Ilyenko, whose late father, Yuri Ilyenko, directed several high-profile Ukrainian features in the 1960s through the 1980s, is taking the job, which has been vacant since the previous head, Katerina Kopylova, was fired last February in the wake of the Maidan revolution.

Ilyenko has yet to state his priorities and policies as the head of the agency, on which Ukrainian filmmakers and producers heavily depend for funding. However, the very fact that his appointment has taken place, coupled with last month's decision by the government to bring back state funding for the film sector, are widely seen in the industry as a way from the impasse in which the situation has been since February.

For the last few months, Ukrainian filmmakers have complained that the inactivity of the agency and lack of state cash have brought several productions to a halt.

Meanwhile, the new head's job is likely to be anything but a cakewalk. In addition to financial challenges — the government said it will spend only $5.7 million (67.6 million hryvnas) on film productions this year, down from the originally planned $9.7 million (115 million hryvnas) — he is taking the reins amid fears that the new head might not continue with Kopylova's reforms.

Last spring, a group of filmmakers signed a letter calling for Kopylova's reinstatement and supporting steps at transparency and accountability in the sector, introduced by her.