Ahead of this week’s NIKA Awards ceremony in Moscow, Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin heard the plans by Minister of Culture Vladimir Medinsky to re-launch the film festival in Crimea’s Yalta and the festival for children’s cinema in the small resort town of Gurzuf.

Speaking to the RIA-Novosti agency after his meeting with Putin, Medinsky said he believed that both festivals could take place again this year and suggested that these events - as well as an international jazz festival in Koktebel - could help attract guests from all over Russia - and later on, from all over the world.

The meeting between Putin and Medinsky also centred on the proposal to reactivate the Yalta Film Studios on the peninsula as a centre for national production. In Soviet times, these studios had hosted such productions as Andrey Tarkovsky’s Solaris, Amphibian Man, Prisoner Of The Caucasus and Kidnapping, Caucasian Style.

Last week, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev had argued in a session of a governmental council on the development of Russian cinematography that using the Yalta Film Studios would be a way of reducing the cultural isolation of Crimea’s population from the achievements of the Russian film industry.

For many Russians, these studios are regarded as the birthplace of the Russian film industry having been established in either 1908, 1911 or 1917, depending on one’s sources.

Medinsky gives thumbs up to swearing ban

Meanwhile, Medinsky gave his thumbs up to the proposal by film-maker Stanislav Govorukhin, the chairman of the State Duma’s culture committee, to ban obscene swearwords on the stage and in films.

¨ I believe that if a film is being released wide, there mustn’t be any swearing. This is our position: there shouldn’t be any swearing on the stage or in the cinema. We will support this bill.¨

According to Govorukhin’s bill,  the penalties for not heeding the ban would be RUB2,000-2,500 ($55-$70) for individuals, RUB4,000-5,000 ($110-$140) for officials and RUB40,000-50,000 ($1,100-$1,400) for legal entities.

If the State Duma passes the bill, this amendment to existing legislation could come into effect from June 1.

However, Russian press sources said that exemptions would be likely from this ban for films showing at international film festivals held in Russia, such as the Moscow International Film Festival in June.

Russia’s American Beauty top winner at 2014 NIKA Awards

Billed as ¨Russia’s answer to American Beauty¨, Alexander Veledinsky’s The Geographer Drank His Globe Away, cleaned up at the 27th edition of Russia’s NIKA Awards by taking home the statuettes for Best Film, Best Director, Best Actor (Konstantin Khabensky), Best Actress (Elena Lyadova) and Best Film Score (Aleksey Zubarev).

The drama, which is screening in the new Baltic Gaze competition in Vilnius this week, began its triumphal career with four awards at the Kinotavr ¨Open Russian¨ Film Festival in Sochi last June. This was followed by the International Jury’s nod for Best Film and the Audience Award in Odessa in July and the Main Prize at the FilmFestival Cottbus in November, among others.

International sales for Veledinsky’s film are handled by Moscow-based Ant!pode Film Sales.

Other NIKA statuettes went to Vitaly Mansky’s Pipeline (Best Documentary), Georgi Daniela and Tatyana Ilina’s Ky! Kin-Dza-Dza (Best Animation), while a number of technical honours went, not unsurprisingly, to Fedor Bondarchuk’s 3D war epic Stalingrad  in the categories for sound design, production design and costume design.

Ukrainian winner

Ironically, given the current political situation, Akhtem Sejtablaev’s Haitarma from Ukraine was named the Best Film from the CIS or Baltic States against competition from such titles as Lithuanian Audrius Juzénas’ drama The Excursionist and Temir Burnazarov’s Passion from Kyrgyzstan.

Sejtablaev’s film is the first Crimean-Tatar screen treatment of the mass deportation of Crimean Tatars by Stalin in 1944.

Presenting the NIKA statuette to Sejtablaev, Mikhail Shvidkoy, Russia’s Special Envoy for International Cultural Cooperation, declared: ¨ I am convinced that art, in general, and cinema, in particular, are the most important thing in our lives; it is much more important than politics.¨

The oldest professional film award in Russia, the NIKA Award was founded in the last years of the Soviet Union in 1988 by the Union of Film-makers and is organised by the Russian Academy of Cinema Arts and Sciences whose president is film-maker Andrey Konchalovsky. (ends)