Russia threatens cinema after showing banned Stalin film

Russia threatens cinema after showing banned Stalin film
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MOSCOW: The Russian Culture Ministry has warned cinemas in the country that they will face legal ramifications if they continue to show The Death Of Stalin, a banned British comedy film.
The ministry’s statement on January 25 came after the Pioneer art house cinema in Moscow defied the government ban and screened the film to a packed audience.
Showing a movie without a license can bring a fine of up to 100,000 rubles (about $1,800). A second violation could lead to a theater’s closure.
The ministry on January 23 declared it was rescinding the permit that would have allowed Scottish writer-director Armando Iannucci’s movie to be shown in Russian theatres. The film premiered in Britain in October.
The ruling came after calls by prominent conservative figures, including film director Nikita Mikhalkov, to bar the movie from being shown in Russia.
The Culture Ministry had warned in September that it might ban Ianucci’s black comedy, which Communist Party lawmakers described as Western “psychological warfare.”
“Many people of the older generation, and not only, will regard it as an insulting mockery of all the Soviet past, of the country that defeated fascism and of ordinary people, and what’s even worse, even of the victims of Stalinism,” Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky said in a statement on January 25.
The satirical film focuses on the power struggle in the Soviet Union immediately after dictator Josef Stalin’s death in March 1953.
“I liked the film. I never expected to see our former government leaders depicted like that,” Reuters quoted former teacher Dina Voronova, 80, as saying. Voronova said she remembers seeing Stalin’s body in an open casket at his funeral.
Critics of the Kremlin say Russia will never come to grips with its past, and particularly the crimes committed by the Soviet state under Stalin if the authorities block efforts to treat it with humour.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the banning of the film did not constitute censorship.
“We disagree that it’s a manifestation of censorship,” he said.

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