I set my new personal moviegoing record in 2012. I saw 234 feature films on a big screen in a year (which is 60% of the whole list of what has been released in Russian theaters). And in May (thanks to Cannes Film Festival) it was 36 films in a theater in a month. Previous records were 222 films in 2006 and 31 in May, 2011.
It can be just entertainment for most of us, like last week I talked to a 22 y.o. person who has been to a movie theater only 5 times in her life (living in a big city). To me, moviegoing is marketing research, education, life experience, everything. It is addiction and a matter of honor. Every time I meet someone who has seen a movie I haven’t seen yet, I feel myself dumb.
Someone has created a bunch of animated GIFs from our 2010’s short film “Invention of Love”. It is so cool to witness how your product is becoming a part of pop culture. That’s what we are working for.
Why the law “For Children’s Protection From Harmful Information” is harmful.
(translated from my original Facebook post)
It has been a month and a half since Russian cinemas and mass-media must put a notable icon of allowed age rate on any material they screen, broadcast or publish. TV channels, websites registered as mass-media, and so on. No doubt that no one can actually prevent a 12 y.o. person from visiting a 16+ website or watching an 18+ TV show. But in cinemas it’s simple: you just do not sell a ticket, or do not let a person in. Here is an article (in Russian) on what has changed in theatres: http://kinobizon.ru/2012/10/10/theatres-child-protection-law/ - they report of a 20% drop of admissions this September, compared to 2011’s September. Ticket prices began to rise to indemnify theaters for losses. So, now someone can’t by a ticket because of age, while a person of a proper age comes - and leaves because tickets are too expensive.
Oleg Berezin, head of Nevafilm, the biggest Russian theater construction & service company, often mentions that the least loyal part of theatrical audience is the youngest. Now, at this very moment, many young potential moviegoers are getting used to watch movies on their laptops instead of theaters, since childhood. While iTunes and Netflix are still inaccesible in Russia, there are many other local legal VOD services. But I haven’t ever known someone who would enjoy using these to watch feature films or TV series, because no legal Russian VOD service lets a consumer record a movie on a flash drive to plug it into a TV (which is how more and more movies are being watched at home by torrent users).
So, the first - age restrictions do not work, not in our Information Age. When one is not allowed to see a movie in a theater, he just goes and downloads it. This is how the main objective of the law is not achieved, they don’t protect kids and teenagers from so called “harmful information”, they advertise it instead. And what is the second? The second is that what these kids and teenagers will be protected from is developing a habit of watching serious films in cinemas. While almost any serious movie on adult problems is now rated “18+”, “big screen is important for big films only”, an idiotic idea which is popular among internet generation, gets enshrined in the heads of young audience since childhood. With such rampant online piracy in Russia, this means that the law completely undermines the economic base of independent, arthouse and all other kinds of adult movies. This law encourages people to download instead of going to the theaters. That’s it.
Those who are now filing complaints to Prosecutor General’s Office about the beautiful film “Soulless”, you’d better put an inquiry about who benefits from a law that limits theatrical admissions and increases popularity of torrents.
I was 17 when I watched such movies as “Fight Club,” “The Beach” and “Gladiator” in theater. There is no doubt that these movies would be rated “18+” in modern Russia. I was risking my mental health watching them at 17, then, LOL. Nevertheless, here I am with you, a filmmaker of certain reputation, writing these wise ideas at my spare time, not shooting heroin, not murdering defenceless women or children under cover of night. I was not even 10 when I watched “Terminator 2” (rated R in the U.S.), and Arthur Penn’s “Bonnie and Clyde” shortly before it. Again, nothing happened to me, I am alive and fine! At the same time, “Caligula”, a Tinto Brass film of highly controversial nature, seemed so boring and dull to me, that in my childhood I gave up watching it many times. I watched the whole thing more than a decade later, thanks to the university required course. But “Paprika” - my whole high school class loved it, and me, too.
Maybe I’m so special to have an immunity to harmful information. But I think that each of you, my readers, can easily figure out that you have exactly the same immunity. An F-word on a wall or in the public toilet can not be hidden under the “18+” plate, and seeing it is not a lethal wound, it is just our everyday life. So what would you prefer, a vulgarism on a wall or art? There are no “18+” plates in the Hermitage, while sex and violence abound there.
Time to sum up. This law has brought nothing but negative consequences for the culture and the economy. In O. Henry’s “The Man Higher Up” there’s a fraud remedy to keep a lamp from exploding - sand. This law is the same, it is an imitation of lawmaking, and illusion of order establishment. Losing a war against corruption, they feign a win over film and television. Of course, no racism or fascism should be allowed in media. But sex and violence, especially in such an art form as film, have a right to exist - and should not be treated as something dangerous. Kids are interested in Shrek and Scrat, but when they are becoming interested in “Basic Instinct” and “Schindler’s List”, what’s really dangerous (and silly) is hiding such films from them.
Hello world, my name is Vladislav Pasternak, I am a filmmaker from Saint-Petersburg, Russia, and this is going to be my first experience of blogging in English. I don’t know how often shall I be posting, because writing in a more or less proper foreign language takes time :)