Russia spies return to Kremlin-funded nationalist film output





The history of patriotic, state-funded Russian film dates back to the likes of Sergei Eisenstein's 1925 classic The Battleship Potemkin, but it's a genre assumed to have been left behind since the fall of the Soviet Union. Yesterday the Kremlin signalled a return to communist-era policies when it announced that it will spend $8m (£5.4m) on the first fully state-funded feature since the halcyon days of Mosfilm.

The $8m-budgeted patriotic war film The Brest Fortress will be made by the Central Partnership, Russia's leading independent production company, reports Variety. It is the first of a series of similarly grand features, all backed by state funding, which are expected to hit cinemas from 2010 onwards, in accordance with a new Kremiln commitment to switch state funding to projects which tally with its wider policy.

Russia's film industry has come to resemble that of the west in recent years, with big-budget movies like the Night Watch series apeing Hollywood blockbuster fare, and directors like Wanted's Timur Bekmambetov finding work in the US. But the current financial crisis has bitten hard: more than 20 of the 89 films in production at the country's biggest studio complex were recently reported to have been cancelled or postponed.

In that light, the return to the Soviet-era policy of spending taxpayer rubles on state-funded nationalistic and patriotic projects could have a huge impact. The government has earmarked $70m (£47m) out of a total annual film funding budget of $194m (£131m) for such fare, and 10 films are expected to be produced in the next few years.

The Brest Fortress is being produced in association with Belarusfilm, the state studio of Russia's western neighbour, Belarus. It will centre on the heroic defence of the titular border stronghold during the second world war, which is known as the great patriotic war in both former soviet socialist republics. The fortress is famous for having held out for nine days – far longer than was expected – after the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941. The new film will focus on the way soldiers from the various soviet republics stood together in the face of the Nazi threat...



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