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21 Апреля 2019
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Belarusian Cinema To Follow Moscow’s Example

Belarusian Cinema To Follow Moscow’s Example
By Alexander Zaytsev
Belorusskie Novosty
In trying to decide what modern cinema is about – art or business, the Belarusian government is more inclined to the second opinion. This conclusion is made on the results of the Council of Ministers’ sitting focused on developing the cinematograph industry.
The government has drawn a clear line between cinema production and cinema presentation. The former is to be restored, while the latter is be commercialised. It would also be good if promotions would not only keep going but help production as well.
Head of the government Sergey Sidorsky reckons that commercialising is about creating suitable environment for viewers so that people would not only go to watch a film but to have a night out, that is helping them spend more money than they do now. This hypothetical money is to be used “for new show-case picture houses”.
In the Prime Minister’s opinion, cinema industry in Moscow can be an example as they have few big halls but rather small ones or large units with several small presentation halls. “Our thousand-big halls are not efficient,” stated Sergey Sidorsky. The head of the government reckons that we should combine the best Belarusian and foreign experience and “to do it even better”.
The first five-screen complex in Belarus is to be opened next year. It is being build in Minsk on the grounds of the former ‘Belarus’ picture house. There are 138 picture houses in Belarus and most of them, particularly in district towns, are in need of renovation.
The Prime Minister also touched on the problem of funds not being used efficiently in the cinema promotion industry. In Sergey Sidorsky’s opinion this system is to be reconsidered and funds redistributed.
“We raise 16 billion roubles in promotions in the Republic. Can’t we use it for renovations? You can collect these funds from promotions and other sales for a specially designated programme,” advised the head of the government and suggested that the Ministry of Culture would not send funds to local budgets but keep them for 2-3 years to be later used for repairs, renovations, and up-to-date equipment.
Moreover, Sidorsky proposed to introduce a higher tax rate for buying foreign videos in order to encourage interest in domestic productions. The Prime Minister reckons that “Belarusian productions will be used to their maximum”.
Anyhow, this initiative is not yet an order to be obeyed. Sidorsky only advised to look at the French experience as they use a similar system. “Let’s see whether Belarus needs it,” he said.
The fact that the government gave so much attention to this issue greatly encouraged Vasily Koktysh, the General Director of the ‘Cinema and Video Presentation’ State Enterprise, particularly as the cinema industry in the capital is trying to follow the general trend by itself.
“We have been trying to follow Moscow’s example for a long time. We are very familiar with the problems of big halls. We are dealing with it according to our local preferences,” says Vasily Koktysh. “For instance ‘Sovremenik’ has been shut down long ago because such a huge picture house is not something people need in this part of town. “Avrora’ has three screens, and now it makes just as much money as huge ‘Moscow’. But you can’t change or reconstruct ‘October’ – at least it’s in a good place so it’s always full.”
Talking about raising taxes for foreign films, the Cinema and Video Presentations Director said that he cannot see a problem with that. “If it’s done officially, we will have to pay for it. The main thing is that we are able to progress. Now we have almost reached the point when we provide for ourselves and don’t use any money from the state budget to buy new equipment, but this industry still needs support from the state,” said Vasily Koktysh. “If new Belarusian films come about and they are popular with viewers, we will only be glad.”
There will be a bigger number of films in the future made by Belarusian producers. Although it is difficult to say what the quality will be like before the production is finished, the general approach in BelarusFilm introduced by its Director Vladimir Zametalin looks very promising.
The Production Studio Director says that eight new pieces will be completed before 1 December. Another 7 films are to be released during the first six months of next year. There will be 10 films produced altogether next year.
The Cinema Studio will also be undergoing a major renovation starting on 1 September. Vladimir Zametalin says that artistic work will not be hindered by building works. Once the reconstruction is finished in September 2009, BelarusFilm aims to reach the Soviet standard of 12 films a year.
Interestingly, the renovations at BelarusFilm will be carried out by a foreign investor – Lithuanian Hanne Company that won the tender.
Altogether the state budget is going to allocate 11.1 billion rubles for the Belarusian cinema, including 10.3 for film production.


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