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Russian Film Director Complains Of 'Oscar Committee's' Favoritism

Oscar-winning Russian film director Nikita Mikhalkov

Oscar-winning Russian film director Nikita Mikhalkov

MOSCOW -- A prominent Russian film director has called for changes in the composition of the country's "Oscar Committee" because its members "are dependent" on director Nikita Mikhalkov, RFE/RL's Russian Service reports.

The Oscar Committee, which is headed by director Vladimir Menshov, nominated Mikhalkov's movie "Burnt by the Sun 2" for an Oscar on September 19.

Menshov told RFE/RL on September 20 that he voted against that movie and refused to sign the vote protocol. He said none of the committee members could explain to him why the movie was nominated for an Oscar.

Mikhalkov filmed "Burnt by the Sun 2" in 2010. It is the sequel to his 1994 film "Burnt by the Sun," which was awarded the Grand Prix at the 1994 Cannes Film Festival and the Academy Award (Oscar) for Best Foreign-Language Film.

"Burnt by the Sun 2" had a huge budget of $55 million, but received negative reviews from critics in Russia and abroad.

Mikhalkov -- who is known to have close ties to the Kremlin -- has been involved in recent scandals involving an alleged violation of traffic regulations and the demolition of a historic Moscow building in order to build a hotel.

Mikhalkov's leadership of the Cinematographers' Union has been criticized by many prominent Russian film directors as autocratic.

In April 2010, many members of the Cinematographers' Union quit its board to establish an alternative union of filmmakers in protest at Mikhalkov.

Menshov told RFE/RL that the Oscar committee also discussed nominating two other movies for an Academy Award: "Yelena" by Andrei Zvyagintsev and "Faust" by Aleksandr Sokurov.

The latter won the Grand Prix at the Venice Film Festival last week.

Read more in Russian here