Nikita Mikhalkov, the head of the Russian Union of Cinematographers and an ally of Vladimir Putin, has called on the organisation’s youth wing to draw up a charter of ethics for the film industry, a plea that has been championed by the president. Mikhalkov, the long-time leader of the union, had earlier proposed a special commission to draft the charter but changed track at a session of the youth wing at the Moscow International Film Festival on Thursday. He said: “I want to hear from people who are going to be making films in the future about what their internal sense of taboo is.”
The suggestion has received widespread disapproval from many in the film world, in particular from rival union KinoSoyuz, set up in 2010 by a group of prominent filmmakers who opposed Mikhalkov’s iron-fisted rule. Previously, KinoSoyuz president Andrei Proshkin said: “From my point of view, in a state with the rule of law there are laws, and you mustn’t break them. So why you need a charter, I don’t, honestly, understand. The Americans used to have a charter like this and it was the laughing stock of the world. They had regulations about cleavage depth. Do we need this in the 21st century?”
The youth wing of the Union of Cinematographers was established in 2012 after Mikhalkov received an open letter from 60 young filmmakers criticising “educational institutions and festivals that allow for the propaganda and promotion of cinematic works that contain immorality and banality, that promote disgust in our cinema industry, our people and our entire Fatherland”. It went on to condemn western festivals, which “thirst for trashy movies about a dying Russia”. Most of the signatories remained anonymous.