Mikhalkov Attacks “Standards” of Russian Cinema, Calls for Putin to Intervene

Interfax reports:

Russia’s Union of Cinematographers came out with a statement in which it lashed out at the standards of Russian cinema, lambasted the Russian media and claimed that Russia is on the verge of a cultural and moral “catastrophe.”

…The union said illiteracy, degradation of gender relationships, and depreciation of family values are features of modern Russian society. “All these diseases put Russia on the verge of disappearance,” is said.

Russians find Russian films humiliating and have stopped seeing them, the union said. “Generally speaking, modern Russian cinema is destructive. Not only does it fail to generate love for one’s country, for one’s near and dear and for other people – it in principle kills off one’s desire to live, work and raise children in Russia,” the statement said.

And inevitably:

The union appealed to President-elect Vladimir Putin to intervene. 

The head of the Russian Cinematographers’ Union is the director Nikita Mikhalkov; a recent article in Radio Free Europe has some background:

Despite critical looks at the country’s Stalinist past in works like “Burnt By The Sun” — for which he won a U.S. Academy Award for best foreign film — Mikhalkov is an unabashed fan of Vladimir Putin, even directing a hagiographic film about the then-president on the occasion of his 50th birthday.

Together, the two men last year launched a government advisory panel on the Russian film industry that will be headed by Putin. The move sparked fears among critics and filmmakers that the Kremlin may be seeking to harness moviemaking for its own ideological ends.

Mikhalkov was supposed to have stepped down as chairman in 2008; however, when his preferred successor (a man “known mainly for his roles in action movies and as the host of the TV series ‘Battle of the Psychics’) was rejected he retained his position following a court challenge and a re-election. The report further notes:

…the list of those who have spoken out against Mikhalkov is impressive, and includes such legends of Russian film such as film directors Eldar Ryazanov and Aleksei German, theater directors Yury Lyubimov and Mark Zakharov, and animator Yury Norshtein.

In 2011, Mikhalkov arranged for his poorly-received sequel to Burnt By the Sun to represent Russia at the Oscars; the decision was decried as “cronyism”. In the same year, his views on the tsunami in Japan garnered controversy; France 24 reported:

…On March 16, he delivered a lecture in the Moscow House of Cinema, during which he appeared to say that the earthquake and tsunami were sent to Japan to punish its citizens for their sins.

…Two days later, Mikhalkov clarified his position on his own YouTube channel. He said that the meaning of his words had been distorted, and that the Japanese had been punished not for their own sins, but for the sins of the whole world. To his detractors, however, his statement came as too little, too late. As one of his critics ironically put it, “God punishes the Japanese with the earthquake and us, Russians, with Mikhalkov”.

One Response

  1. Yes, Mikhalkov’s role in Russian cinema is a long subject – a talented actor who once made some fairly reasonable films but who has descended in recent years to have been one of the most nefarious figures in Russian cinema. Apart from staging a show trial cinema congress a couple of years back to regain control of the Russian cinematographers’ union which he treats as a kind of personal fiefdom, he also played a central role in destroying Moscow’s wonderful Museum of Cinema as well as smearing liberal and radical critics of him as part of an ‘Atlantic conspiracy’. The list is endless- Russia’s cultural legacy is under attack from the more nationalistically minded elites of Orthodoxy as has been shown by the recent Pussy Riot scandal. I’ve written about these subjects in my blog over the past few years- the incursion of religion into the world of Russian art and the overbearing figure of Mikhalkov in Russian cinema have been one of the main features of the recent cultural wars in Russia. http://giuvivrussianfilm.blogspot.com/2009/12/pavel-lungins-tsar-religious-plague-in.html

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *