Russia threatens cinemas showing 'Death of Stalin' after ban
25 Jan 2018 - 19:58
Moscow: Russia's culture ministry on Thursday warned cinemas in the country that if they continue to show banned British comedy film "The Death of Stalin" then they will face "legal responsibility".
It comes after local media reported that a central Moscow cinema had screened the film, which satirises the death of the dictator, despite the ban.
The ministry withdrew permission for the film's release on Tuesday after Russian officials and arts figures labelled it offensive and "extremist."
In a statement, the ministry said it "reminds" cinemas that according to Russian state law on cinematography, showing a film without permission for release "entails responsibility in accordance to the law".
The film, directed by British comic Armando Iannucci, had a world premiere in September and takes a satirical look at the power scramble after Stalin's 1953 death. It includes actors playing historical figures such as World War II commander Marshal Georgy Zhukov.
The ministry said the film's release was cancelled after officials found it contained "information whose distribution is legally banned in Russia".
The film was set for a limited release in cinemas from Thursday after local distributors Volga Film gained an 18+ certificate from the culture ministry.
This prompted a wave of protests from conservative figures, although it received good reviews in Russian broadsheets.
On Monday, culture minister Vladimir Medinsky held a private screening for officials and film directors.
After the screening 22 people signed a letter urging Medinsky to delay the release and check if the film broke any laws.
The signatories included film director Nikita Mikhalkov -- who won an Oscar for his 1995 film "Burnt by the Sun" set during Stalin repressions -- and Marshal Zhukov's daughter Era.
Medinsky, known for his ultra conservative view of Russian history, explained the ban was a "question of morality".
"We don't have censorship. But there is a moral boundary between the critical analysis of history and the mockery of it," he explained following the decision to ban the film.