On December 2 at the V St. Petersburg International Cultural Forum participants of events, dedicated to the Year of Cinema in Russia, told about achievements and problems of national cinema.
At first the chairperson of the Committee on culture of Saint Petersburg Konstantin Sukhenko listed the main achievements of the Year of Cinema in the city, including large festivals: “Message to Man”, “Kino Expo” forum, “Film Night”, 12-th anniversary of the first Russian films, celebrated at the “Lenfilm” studio, opening ceremony of Lenfilm’s modernized facilities and Vladimir Putin’s visit.
“In 2016 we allocated 102 million rubles to support 26 films. Last year we provided 53 million rubles for 9 films. Twenty six film festivals in Saint Petersburg present the whole palette of national cinema: from independent movies to children’s films and cartoons”, - said the head of the committee.
Also Sukhenko pointed out that the city is proud to host the “Petersburg Cinematic” project. After that he told about the modernization of digital equipment of state cinema halls.
Director Alexey Uchitel told about his “Message to Man” project, which this year gathered 44 thousand viewers. Werner Herzog’s “Oh, Internet! Dreams of digital world” movie premiere, which gathered thousands of viewers in rain on the Dvortsovaya Square, was the most spectacular event.
“The festival is becoming an event of truly global importance: until just recently the world knew a lot more about us than we did ourselves in our own country. Now we have managed to reduce the gap”, - said Uchitel.
The presentation of the “Chapaev” project, which is designed to become the main information resource for people, who want to learn about the history of national cinema, and the basis of a future textbook on the history of Russian cinema, took place at the session. The project was presented by the chief editor of the “Séance” magazine Lubov Arkus.
Head of the “Cinema” section of the Cultural Forum Fedor Bondarchuk informed the audience about the “Cinematic”, which hasn’t yet received its own building in the city. However, the project seems rather promising.
“The occupancy rate of cinemas in the context of the project is about 34% in comparison with 13% in Russia overall. Most of the audience returns. Viewers are mostly 26-30 years old, over 40 or students. The most viewed movies this year are “Solaris” and “Mirror” of Andrey Tarkovsky, “July Rain” of Marlen Khytsyev, “Courier” of Karen Shakhnazarov”, - said the director.
Among the premieres Bondarchuk also highlighted “The Duelist”, “28 Panfilov’s Men” and “Matilda” of Alexey Uchitel.
“It’s clear that the Year of Cinema in Russia couldn’t change the market significantly – movies still take more than a year to complete. However, it improved our communication with authorities on all levels. At the same time we are growing. The problem of insufficient financing isn’t quite as crucial anymore. Russian cinema becomes more and more competitive, including the situation abroad, especially when we talk about 3D-animation”, - commented producer Sergey Selyanov, who also invited everyone to the premiere of the “Three Bogatyrs and the Sea King” cartoon.
At the same time he called the situation with the “Petersburg Cinematic” “shameful”, because if the city’s not interested in its fate in the Year of Cinema, then nobody will ever care. According to Selyanov, new problems resurfaced during the Year of Cinema in Russian, namely those, connected with the economic crisis. Viewers became more selective, which resulted in greater profits of well advertised American blockbusters and cartoons, and smaller films enjoyed smaller profits. In 2016 “The Crew” movie and the “Ivan Tsarevich and the grey wolf” cartoon accumulated profits, comparable to those of American movies.
“Each step of American cinema is well advertised in media, while we are told that if they publish information about the start of the project, than we shouldn’t expect any excitement for the premiere. Currently the annual budget of our cinema is equal to that of just one American movie. During the USSR the government allocated 66 billion rubles for cinema, but today this amount is just about 5 billion. No further comments”, - said the producer.
Total box office takings of Russian films amounted to 8 billion rubles, which is an unprecedented amount. The director of the Cinema Fund Anton Malyshev added that thanks to new cinemas in small towns national cinema has reached 700 thousand more viewers. At least 50% of the total time capacity of new cinemas has been reserved for Russian movies. Participants of the session disagreed on the issue of quotas form foreign films, - Fedor Bondarchuk opposed the idea. The actor and director of the “Golden Knight” festival Nikolai Burlyaev and Konstantin Sukhenko believed that the government should finance not just “Americanized” blockbusters, but films, which reflect the philosophy and mentality of Russia as well.