Ukrainian court upholds foreign-film law

All films must be dubbed or subtitled in Ukranian

MOSCOW -- A Kiev court of appeals has upheld a law stipulating that all foreign-language movies released theatrically in Ukraine should be either dubbed or subtitled in Ukrainian.

The law, which took effect in early 2008, has caused much controversy, particularly in Ukraine's predominantly Russian-speaking eastern region, hitting film distributors that, until recently, used Russian-language versions of foreign films.

The ruling, which stipulates that theatrical release permits can be granted only to foreign films with Ukrainian dubbing or subtitles, ends a lengthy battle between a number of distributors and exhibitors for the right to show Russian-language films. In February, more than 30 theaters in Russian-speaking cities went on strike as a result.

Meanwhile, despite a decline in boxoffice revenue in the first months of the year, due in part at least to the language controversy, half-year figures show that the Ukrainian boxoffice is bouncing back.

In January to June, Ukraine's theaters took in 135.9 million hryvnas ($28.1 million), up 6% from the same period last year.