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Russian TV Cuts Scriptwriter's Warning That Cinema 'Dying Out'

Screenwriter Yury Arabov receives the Nika for best script for his work on the films "Faust" and "The Horde" in Moscow on April 4.

Screenwriter Yury Arabov receives the Nika for best script for his work on the films "Faust" and "The Horde" in Moscow on April 4.

The prestigious Nika award ceremony, Russia's version of the Oscars, is intended as a patriotic celebration of Russian cinema.

A speech by one of this year's winners, however, turned out to be just the opposite.

Celebrated scriptwriter Yury Arabov, who won a prize at the April 2 ceremony, used his award speech to slam what he said was the destructive effect of Russian authorities on the country's film industry.

But as Russian media are now reporting, state-run television chose not to include the remarks in its coverage of the ceremony. Though a video of the remarks has been posted on the Internet.

"We have problems. We practically cannot work. This process comes from above and below. Money is not being spent on cinema because it is unprofitable," Arabov said at the ceremony.

"All the films that are awarded today are unprofitable because they are part of our economy, and our economy is unprofitable because it is based on oil and state-sanctioned pilfering," he said.

To the visible dismay of the ceremony's presenter, film director and actor Yuly Gusman, Arabov went on to broaden his attack on President Vladimir Putin's rule.

"As I was once told by a very famous minister and deputy prime minister, everything that is good in Russia takes place outside the system," he said. "I don't know whether we will live to see the day when all the good things in Russia are part of the system."

After fending off Gusman's attempt to shush him, Arabov urged independent businesses to come to the rescue, warning that quality Russian cinema would soon "die out" without private funds.

After Arabov's biting remarks about the musical "Count Orlov," which plays on the stage of the Moscow theater hosting the Nika ceremony, Gusman was finally able to end the scriptwriter's acerbic tirade.

"He shat on that, too!" Gusman said in remarks that were also edited out of the broadcast, "I'm horrified."

-- Claire Bigg

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