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MOSCOW: Having learned that Hollywood has suspended the screening of its films in Russia, in response to the “unjustified” military intervention in Ukraine, Mila Grikova from Moscow “immediately realizes who is ringing the death knell.”

Translator of American films, Ms. Grikova has become unemployed since the decision of the five Hollywood giants – Disney, Universal, Sony Pictures, Warner Brothers. And Paramount – to remove their products from the Russian calendar.

And she still wonders what the purpose of the sanctions is: “It’s the West that I hate today and not (Vladimir) Putin, their target.”

“Here, Bollywood may replace Hollywood, but it is too late for me to learn Hindi,” the 56-year-old translator says, disappointed, reacting to the idea of ​​replacing American titles with Hindi films, mentioned in Russia.

Other than his case, it is the entire Russian film industry that is suffering from the fallout from the conflict in Ukraine, when it was barely recovering from the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The fate of the industry is on hold this time due to sanctions, while Russia was the leading European film market with 145.7 million entries last year, according to the European Audiovisual Observatory.

Asian movies?

Before the decision to suspend by Hollywood, the Russian company Mosfilm-Master dubbed ten foreign films per month.

“Today, we have lost two-thirds of the orders,” laments its director Evgeny Beilin, who receives AFP at the powerful Mosfilm studio.

He sums up: “During the epidemic, we had films, but we did not have open cinemas. Today we have our own cinemas, but there are no films.”

The Russian Association of Theater Owners warned in early March that the country could close half of its theaters because those risked “losing up to 80% of revenue” following Hollywood’s departure.

In order to adapt and survive, Mosfilm-Master is preparing to hire Korean and Chinese translators, even if its director “suspects that Asian films work for the Russians” due to cultural differences.

“It’s not always easy,” says the 70-year-old specialist, including “30 in dubbing.” “Westerners are closer to us.”

discover yourself»

“The situation is very difficult, but not catastrophic,” however, she wants to put Olga Zinyakova, 37, head of one of the four largest Russian cinema networks, Karo, into perspective.

“Since the arrival of Hollywood in Russia, 30 years ago, we have been through a lot of crises: political, economic, epidemic …” she says.

Since the start of the offensive in Ukraine on February 24, admissions in 35 theaters have fallen by 70%, while the average seat price (300 rubles, or about three euros) has not changed for five years.

The country has already promised to double its financial support for film productions and reduce the tax burden as well as the cost of renting rooms, the seemingly tiny head of the network rejoices in the massive October Red Room, one of the largest in Europe with its 1,500 seats, now empty.

Russians, deprived of blockbuster American films, “will explore themselves more deeply,” but want to believe that Olga Zhenyakova, who cited the success of the Russian cult film of the 1990s, “Prat” (“Brother”), is back in attachment.

Its network is also preparing to program Asian addresses, but also Latin American addresses.

“And when Hollywood returns here, the market and viewers in Russia will not be the same,” she predicts.

hostage» Policy

The departure of Hollywood giants Pavel Dourioli, 44, whose studio Atmosfera produces soundtracks for about fifteen films a year, did not surprise.

“For years, world cinema has been hostage to big politics,” said this sound designer, a member since 2020 of the international organization “Sound Editors for Cinema” (MPSE).

He pointed out that “Cannes or Berlin no longer reward films, but their position,” referring to two international film festivals, which condemned Russia for its attack on Ukraine.

He predicts that “the Russians, deprived of international festivals, will abandon the composed cinema that presents a different view of the world, which is so precious today.”

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