Khodorkovsky film gets limited release in Russia
A documentary on jailed oil boss Mikhail Khodorkovsky was released in Russia on Thursday in a handful of cinemas, mostly outside Moscow, after distributors said major cinemas pulled out.
The film by German director Cyril Tuschi was one of the key attractions at this year's Berlin Film Festival. But in Moscow, the first public release was at a small cinema in the suburbs with just 88 seats.
The film traces the story of the former Yukos boss and Kremlin critic, who was sentenced to eight years for tax evasion in 2005 and then again for fraud charges in 2010, and is likely to be behind bars until 2016.
In Russia, the film's ironic slogan is: "Khodorkovsky is coming out on December 1."
Distributors reported a lot of interest in the film, but linked the low exposure to Sunday's parliamentary polls.
"We hope that after the elections, the cinemas will come to their senses, the ones that said no to this," said Nadezhda Smirnova, a spokeswoman for distributors Kinoclub.
"That's why we had problems with the release, because of the elections."
"We have full houses. All the tickets have been sold for today," said a spokeswoman for Eldar cinema, which is showing the film daily to December 7.
Kinoclub's art director Olga Papernaya told Dozhd internet television channel she heard a city-owned cinema chain dropped a planned release after an official warning.
"We heard by chance that there was a call from some highly placed official from the city culture committee.. There was an incredible upheaval," Papernaya said, adding that she had no written confirmation.
Several commercial chains followed suit, Papernaya said.
The premiere is set for Friday at Khudozhestvenny cinema in central Moscow, attended by the director.
Smirnova said "tickets sold out very quickly."
"There is huge interest in the film," she said.
The premiere is part of a festival organised with the Culture Ministry. But the city-owned Khudozhstvenny cinema dropped the idea of regular showings, Smirnova said.
Otherwise, in Moscow the only confirmed showings are at a restaurant and an art gallery.
In the regions, the film is to be shown at 13 cinemas, according to Kinoclub's website.
© 2011 AFP