Is Film Self-Sufficiency Possible?
Valdai Club Conference Hall, Tsvetnoy boulevard 16/1, Moscow, Russia
List of speakers

On April 21, the Valdai Club hosted an expert discussion on cultural import substitution in the field of cinematography. Discussion moderator Andrey Bystritskiy, Chairman of the Board of the Foundation for Development and Support of the Valdai Discussion Club, noted, that the word “autarky” will soon be the most important one in the modern world. This also applies to cinema. After Western producers deprived the Russian audience of access to their products, the question arose of whether Russian society is capable of providing for the Russian market and the interests of Russian citizens with cinematic content. 

Svetlana Sonina, Deputy General Producer of Okko, noted that the issue of cultural substitution as such is not relevant yet. American filmmakers are leaving the Russian market. “American cinema, with few exceptions, is an attraction: blockbusters, popcorn, an event, a show, and also the promotion of certain values. I would not call it a cultural phenomenon with one hundred percent probability. If we are talking about high-quality European cinema, including festival cinema, then there are no problems with it yet,” Sonina said.

Vadim Sokolovsky, director of IVI production department, called for contacts with global manufacturers so as not to be culturally isolated. According to him, Western countries are now creating for Russia the same problem that the Soviet Union created for its citizens, cutting them off from global cultural context. Russia, being a part of world culture, cannot and should not close itself off from the world, he believes: “We must not close ourselves with an iron curtain only because Western people treat us like ugly pigs.”

Alena Kremer, producer and managing video production partner at Peak Media, considers it necessary to create a competitive environment in the domestic market. The quality of content largely depends on the educational programmes that are actively developing in the country, but in addition to this it is necessary to develop the institution of mentoring. It is very important to build a system of cooperation between professionals and young specialists - and the state should help. Only close interaction between the state and the industry will help form the necessary support measures to stimulate import substitution in cinema, and in this it is necessary to rely on the experience of other countries, in particular China, Kremer believes.

Alexander Akopov, film and television producer, TV presenter, and president of the Russian Television Academy Foundation, emphasised that most of the film content in Russia consists of TV serials and in this area import substitution has already happened - the main interest of the audience is focused on the domestic products. We can talk about import substitution in the field of movies distribution, but here, too, Russian indicators are no worse than those of other countries. Rather, we should talk not about import substitution, but about export orientation. “We have long won the fight for our viewers,” he stressed.

Alexey Goreslavsky, Director General of the Internet Development Institute, raised the topic of gaming content. More than fifty million people in Russia play computer games, but games are not usually taken seriously as part of the entertainment industry. In the gaming sector, unlike TV shows, things are not going well with import substitution. It is necessary to invest in this area as soon as possible, otherwise we may fail in a few months.