Film foundation set up by Alexander Sokurov to close after claims of government hostility

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The director of Russian Ark has accused Russia’s culture ministry of “unfriendliness and aggressiveness”

Alexander Sokurov
High-profile critic ... Alexander Sokurov. Photograph: Linda Nylind/The
High-profile critic ... Alexander Sokurov. Photograph: Linda Nylind/The

Last modified on Thu 18 Jul 2019 13.05 EDT

Russian film director Alexander Sokurov has shut down his film foundation citing hostility from Russia’s ministry of culture.

In comments reported by Russian news agency Interfax (via the Hollywood Reporter), Sokurov said the ministry’s “unfriendliness and aggressiveness” was behind his decision to close Primer Inotnatsii (Example of Intonation).

Sokurov, who is best known for Russian Ark, a single-take film about the history of the Hermitage museum in St Petersburg, as well as his tetralogy of films about the corrupting effects of power, which includes Moloch and The Sun, established his foundation in 2013 with the intention to “support young authors, who are making their first steps in [the] film-making industry”.

Police previously opened an investigation into Primer Inotnatsii in December 2018 after allegations of embezzlement; the probe ended with a police statement that “no wrongdoing was discovered”. Another high-profile director, Kirill Serebrennikov, was placed under house arrest after accusations of embezzlement in 2017 (dismissed as “politically motivated” by his supporters). His trial is still to take place after repeated delays.

Sokurov has been a high-profile critic of the imprisonment of Ukrainian director Oleg Sentsov, who was convicted of plotting terrorist acts in 2015 and sentenced to 20 years in jail after a trial that was described by Amnesty International as “fatally flawed” and “redolent of Stalinist-era show trials”. In 2018, Russian president Vladimir Putin rejected a request from Sokurov to intervene in Sentsov’s case.