‘Distorting history’: Hollywood’s Child 44 recalled from Russian cinemas
“The opinion of distributors and representatives of the Ministry of Culture concurred: the screening of such movies on the eve of the 70th anniversary of the Victory [in World War II] is unacceptable,” Minister of Culture, Vladimir Medinsky, said in a statement.
Medinsky added he “appreciates” the decision by Russian distributor Central Partnership to pull out their application for a distribution certificate that is required in Russia to show movies in theaters.
The film adaptation of Child 44, a novel by Tom Rob Smith’s, tells the story of a Stalin-era MGB (Ministry for State Security) agent, who investigates the killings of dozens of children in the paranoid atmosphere of a Communist state where the authorities refuse to believe that crime can exist in the utopian society they’re building.
The decision to pull the movie was taken by Central Partnership after the final screening of Child 44, the statement said. Experts from the Ministry of Culture took part in the screening.
Meanwhile, a source familiar with the issue told TASS news agency that it was the Ministry of Culture, which initiated the film’s recall.
“The movie theaters were contacted by Central Partnership and told that the Ministry of Culture had called back the distribution certificate. No reasons were provided,” the source said.
The Ministry said that it received complaints regarding the content of the film, dealing with the distortion of historical facts and dubious interpretations of events before, during and after the Great Patriotic War (USSR’s war with Nazi Germany) as well as characters of Soviet citizens from that historical era.
On Thursday, Medinsky said that the fact that Child 44 is being pulled from cinemas doesn’t mean that the Russian audience won’t be able to see the movie at all.
“We had no intention of hiding this international cinematic effort from the people. Please be informed that Child 44 will be available for viewing, in particular, on DVD and online as soon as the rights for these type of distribution come into force,” the culture minister said.
“Moreover, at the first opportunity, we will upload it to our own Ministry of Culture online services,” he added.
Central Partnership showed full support for the decision to pull the movie, which was scheduled to hit the cinemas across Russia on Thursday.
“The rights to Child 44 were acquired by Central Partnership in 2011 as part of a package deal for the purchase of Summit studios movies. We have made a number of changes to the film both at the script level as well as during production and dubbing. Nevertheless, we weren’t satisfied with the final result,” Pavel Stepanov, the distributor’s CEO, said.
In his letter to Lenta.ru website, Stepanov also urged the strengthening of “state control over the distribution of films with a socially significant context.”
Medinsky said that he resented that nobody among those who were involved in preparing Child 44 for the screening in Russia, expressed dissatisfaction with the flick’s content.
“It's not about this particular movie. The American filmmakers can express themselves as they please. It’s more important for us to be done with the never ending series of schizophrenic reflections about ourselves,” Medinsky said, as cited by RIA-Novosti news agency.
“We came to terms with the fact that we breathe in, drink poison about our history and our country. It’s us, who ourselves agree with the lies and slander,” he added.
The head of the Moscow Helsinki Group, Lyudmila Alekseyeva, has criticized the decision to remove Child 44 from the cinemas.
“I am against all these bans and against the Ministry of Culture getting involved. This means that everybody should know history the way the authorities want to present it,” the veteran human rights activist told Interfax news agency.
In a healthy society, different stances and points of view on various events, including World War II, have the right to exist, Alekseyeva added.
Meanwhile, Russian movie critics said that the whole scandal around Child 44 has created some good advertising for an otherwise unworthy movie.
“I’m sure that this movie will now be downloaded and watched by a lot more people than would have eventually made it to the cinema. I don’t think that this movie would have been able to attract serious attention,” film reviewer Natalya Grigoryeva told TASS news agency.
She disagreed with the move, saying that Child 44 “is just a bad movie, but everybody has the right to evaluate it himself and form an opinion about it.”
Movie critic Yury Gladilschikov said that nothing would have happened if the movie had been released as “it would have mainly gotten negative responses and would’ve been forgotten in an instant.”