Cinema of Russia

Cinema of Russia

Salyut cinema in Yekaterinburg
Number of screens 3,479 (2013)[1]
  Per capita 2.1 per 100,000 (2011)[2]
Main distributors Central Partnership/ Cp Classic 26.6%
WDSSPR 19.5%
20th Century Fox 16.1% [3]
Produced feature films (2011)[4]
Fictional 103 (73.6%)
Animated 35 (1.4%)
Documentary 2 (25.0%)
Number of admissions (2013)[1]
Total 177,100,000
  Per capita 1.2 (2012)[5]
National films 32,500,000 (18%)
Gross box office (2013)[1]
Total $1.34 billion
National films $244 million (18%)

The cinema of Russia began in the Russian Empire, widely developed in the Soviet Union and in the years following its dissolution, the Russian film industry would remain internationally recognized. In the 21st century, Russian cinema has become popular internationally with hits such as House of Fools, Night Watch, and the popular Brother. The Moscow International Film Festival began in Moscow in 1935. The Nika Award is the main annual national film award in Russia.

Cinema of the Russian Empire

Ivan Mozzhukhin as the title character in Yakov Protazanov's 1917 film, Father Sergius. It was the last film of the Russian Empire era.

The first films seen in the Russian Empire were brought in by the Lumière brothers, who exhibited films in Moscow and St. Petersburg in May 1896. That same month, Lumière cameraman Camille Cerf made the first film in Russia, recording the coronation of Nicholas II at the Kremlin.

Aleksandr Drankov produced the first Russian narrative film Stenka Razin, based on events told in a popular folk song and directed by Vladimir Romashkov. Ladislas Starevich made the first Russian animated film (and the first stop motion puppet film with a story) in 1910 - Lucanus Cervus. Among the notable Russian filmmakers of the era were Aleksandr Khanzhonkov and Ivan Mozzhukhin, who made Defence of Sevastopol in 1912. Yakov Protazanov made Departure of a Grand Old Man, a biographical film about Lev Tolstoy.

During World War I, imports dropped drastically, and Russian filmmakers turned out anti-German, nationalistic films. In 1916, 499 films were made in Russia, more than three times the number of just three years earlier.

The Russian Revolution brought more change, with a number of films with anti-Tsarist themes. The last significant film of the era, made in 1917, Father Sergius would become the first new film release of the Soviet era.

Cinema of the Soviet Union

Although Russian was the dominant language in films during the Soviet era, the cinema of the Soviet Union encompassed films of the Armenian SSR, Georgian SSR, Ukrainian SSR, and, to a lesser degree, Lithuanian SSR, Byelorussian SSR and Moldavian SSR. For much of the Soviet Union's history, with notable exceptions in the 1920s and the late 1980s, film content was heavily circumscribed and subject to censorship and bureaucratic state control. Despite this, Soviet films achieved significant critical success from the 1950s onwards partly as a result, similar to the cinema of other Eastern Bloc countries, for reflecting the tension between independent creativity and state-directed outcomes.

As with much Soviet art during the 1920s, films addressed major social and political events of the time. Probably the single most important film of this period was Sergei Eisenstein's The Battleship Potemkin, not only because of its depiction of events leading up to the 1905 Revolution, but also because of innovative cinematic techniques, such as the use of jump-cuts to achieve political ends. Other notable films of the period include Vsevolod Pudovkin's Mother (1926) and Dziga Vertov's Man with a Movie Camera (1929).

However, with the consolidation of Stalinist power in the Soviet Union, and the emergence of Socialist realism as state policy, which carried over from painting and sculpture into filmmaking, Soviet film became subject to almost total state control.

One of the most popular films released in the 1930s was Circus.

Notable films from the 1940s include Aleksandr Nevsky and Ivan the Terrible.

Immediately after the end of the Second World War, the Soviet color films such as The Stone Flower (1947), Ballad of Siberia (Сказание о земле Сибирской, 1947), and The Kuban Cossacks (Кубанские казаки, 1949) were released.

In the late 1950s and early 1960s Soviet film-makers were given a less constricted environment, and while censorship remained, films emerged which began to be recognised outside the Soviet bloc such as Ballad of a Soldier which won the 1961 BAFTA Award for Best Film and The Cranes Are Flying. The Height (Высота, 1957) is considered to be one of the best films of the 1950s (it also became the foundation of the Bard movement).

The 1970s saw the emergence of a range of films which won international attention, including Andrei Tarkovsky's Solaris; White Sun of the Desert (1970), and "Ostern" – the Soviet Union's own take on the Western genre.

With the onset of Perestroika and Glasnost in the mid-1980s, Soviet films emerged which began to address formerly censored topics, such as drug addiction, The Needle, and sexuality and alienation in Soviet society, Little Vera.

New Russian cinema


Russian cinema of the 90s acquired new features and themes.

The drama Burnt by the Sun (1994) by Nikita Mikhalkov is a story of small countryside community when new times of Stalinism are taking pace to disrupt their idylic reclusion and distort their characters and fates. The film received an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film.

In the context of the Russian World War II history Pavel Chukhrai filmed The Thief (1997), a movie about a mother with son seeking a manly support and finding a criminal in military clothes. The film was awarded with 6 national prizes Nika, got a special prize in Venice and became the Oscar nominee.

Made by Valery Todorovsky The Country of the Deaf (1998) comedy based on the plot of Renata Litvinova is parodying Russia of the 90s as a journey of two female friends caught in the fight of two clans - the deaf and the hearing.

The profound Dmitri Meskhiyev's melodrama Woman's property (Женская собственность, 1999) reflected subtle relationship between young student and older actress that grew into love-affair. The awaited death of one of the protagonists leaves the other facing the bitter loneliness.

East/West co-production film tells history of early years of Stalinism as a story of emigre family living in the USSR.


Night Watch poster

Andrey Zvyagintsev's The Return, a Golden Lion award recipient, shows two brothers' test of life when their father suddenly returns that reaches a deep almost-mystic pitch.

The Russian Ark, 2003 by Alexander Sokurov, was filmed in a single 96-minute shot in the Russian Hermitage Museum is a dream-like narration that tells about Classic Russian culture sailing in the Ark.

The Night Watch was one of the first blockbusters made after the collapse of the Soviet film industry, it was a 2004 supernatural thriller directed by Timur Bekmambetov. It is the first part of a trilogy, followed by Day Watch (2006) and ending supposedly with Twilight Watch.

The serialised novels by Boris Akunin set in pre-Revolutionary Russia evolve around fictional Erast Fandorin adventures in three popular movies: The Azazel, The Turkish Gambit and The State Counsellor.

Life of the Orthodox Monastery and their Christian miracles are described in the film The Island by Pavel Lungin. The film was highly acclaimed by critics and was much-awarded by spectators and prizes.

Colorful musical Stilyagi, Hipsters about young generation lifestyle in the Soviet Union was a big success for its profound and vibrant portrait of the era of the 1950s. Filmed by Valery Todorovsky in 2008.


How I Ended This Summer by Alexei Popogrebski a film shot in remote Chukotka won Berlin's Film Festival Golden Bear in 2010 and thrills upon the face-off generation gap.

The same year Silent Souls, an arthouse film wins Golden Osella for the best cinematography. Beautifully filmed it is a melancholic poem of love and death.

One of the many successful movies that were made in co-starring with Western actors and actresses is a comedy Lucky Trouble, 2011 which features Milla Jovovich.

One of the most successful Russia's director to enter Hollywood is Timur Bekmambetov producing and screening blockbusters.

Andrey Zvyagintsev's Leviathan has won the Golden Globe for best foreign language film.

List of highest-grossing films

According to, highest grossing Russian films, as of early 2015, are the following:

Highest-grossing Russian films
Rank Title Gross Year Genre Details Director
1 Сталинград


$68,075,573 2013 War A World War II film about Battle of Stalingrad Fyodor Bondarchuk
2 Ирония судьбы. Продолжение

Irony of Fate: The Sequel

$55,639,114 2007 Romantic comedy A Christmas film, the sequel to a 1976 film of the same name Timur Bekmambetov
3 Вий


$39 539 416 2014 Fantasy, Horror Based on a story of the same name by Nikolai Gogol, inspired by Slavic mythology Oleg Stepchenko
4 Дневной дозор

Day Watch

$38 862 717 2006 Fantasy Based on urban fantasy book series Dozory by Sergey Lukyanenko Timur Bekmambetov
5 Адмиралъ


$38 135 878 2008 Biography, History About Russian Civil War monarchist leader, Admiral Alexander Kolchak Janik Fayziyev
6 Ёлки 3

Christmas Trees 3

$38 067 427 2013 Comedy A Christmas film Olga Kharina
7 Ночной дозор

Night Watch

$33 951 015 2004 Fantasy Based on urban fantasy book series Dozory by Sergey Lukyanenko Timur Bekmambetov
8 Три богатыря на дальних берегах

Three Knights at the Distant Shores

$31 505 876 2012 Animation, Fairy tale An interpretation of medieval Russian folklore Kostantin Feoktistov

(Melnitsa Animation)

9 Самый лучший фильм

The Best Movie

$30 496 695 2008 Comedy Spoofing famous Russian films and TV series Kirill Kuzin
10 Легенда №17

Legend № 17

$29 523 237 2013 Biography, Sport drama About Soviet hockey player, Valery Kharlamov Nikolai Lebedev
11 Обитаемый остров

The Inhabited Island

$27 908 763 2009 Science fiction Based on a dystopian book by Strugatsky brothers Fyodor Bondarchuk
12 Высоцкий. Спасибо, что живой

Vysotsky. Thank You For Being Alive

$27 544 905 2011 Biography, Drama About Soviet singer Vladimir Vysotsky Pyotr Buslov
13 Ёлки 2

Christmas Trees 2

$26 231 525 2011 Comedy A Christmas film Dmitry Kiselyov,

Alexander Kott and others

14 9 рота

The 9th Company

$25 555 809 2005 War About Soviet war in Afghanistan Fyodor Bondarchuk
15 Иван Царевич и серый волк

Prince Ivan and the Big Grey Wolf

$24 830 497 2011 Animation, Fairy tale An interpretation of medieval Russian folklore Vladimir Toropchin

(Melnitsa Animation)

16 Экипаж

Flight Crew

$23 305 571 2016 disaster film

Nikolai Lebedev

17 Ёлки

Christmas Trees

$22 772 019 2010 Comedy A Christmas film Timur Bekmambetov,

Dmitry Kiselyov and others

18 Наша Russia: Яйца судьбы

Our Russia and the Eggs of Destiny

$22 213 287 2010 Comedy Based on a TV show of the same name Gleb Orlov
19 Чёрная молния

Black Lightning

$21 500 000 2009 Superhero Timur Bekmambetov
20 Волкодав


$21 015 154 2006 Fantasy Based on a medieval high fantasy book by Maria Semenova Nikolai Lebedev
21 Иван Царевич и Серый волк 2

Ivan Tsarevich and the Grey Wolf 2

$20 962 988 2013 Fantasy An interpretation of medieval Russian folklore Vladimir Toropchin
22 Три богатыря. Ход конём

Three heroes. Horse Course

$19 390 136 2015 Animation, Fairy tale An interpretation of medieval Russian folklore Konstantin Feoktistov

(Melnitsa Animation)

23 Три богатыря и Шамаханская царица

Three Knights and the Queen of Shаmakha

$19 010 585 2010 Animation, Fairy tale An interpretation of medieval Russian folklore Sergey Glezin

(Melnitsa Animation)

24 Турецкий гамбит

The Turkish Gambit

$18 500 000 2005 History, Spy Based on a book by Boris Akunin, about espionage at 19th-century Russo-Turkish war Janik Fayziyev
25 О чём ещё говорят мужчины

What Else Man Talk About

$17 808 683 2011 Comedy Starring comic group Quartet I, a sequel to What Men Talk About Dmitry Dyachenko
26 Тарас Бульба

Taras Bulba

$17 040 803 2009 History, Epic Based on a book by Nikolai Gogol, about Khmelnytsky Uprising in 17t-century Ukraine Vladimir Bortko

Most expensive Russian films

Below, is a list of the 10 most high-budget Russian films in the history of hire (excluding inflation). The figures given in the February 25, 2014.

# Title Year Budget, $
1 «Burnt By The Sun 2: Exodus And Citadel» 2011 45 000 000
2 «Burnt by the Sun 2» 2010 40 000 000
3 «The Inhabited Island» 2008 36 000 000
4 «The Barber of Siberia» 1998 35 000 000
5 «Stalingrad» 2013 30 000 000
6 «Viy» 2014 26 000 000
7 «Sunstroke» 2014 24 000 000
8 «Admiral» 2008 20 000 000
9 «August Eighth» 2012 19 000 000
10 «Mongol» 2007 18 000 000



Notable Cinematography Schools

See also


  1. 1 2 3 "Russian Film Market Overview: 2013 Results" (PDF). Nevafilm Research. Retrieved 24 July 2014.
  2. "Table 8: Cinema Infrastructure - Capacity". UNESCO Institute for Statistics. Retrieved 5 November 2013.
  3. "Table 6: Share of Top 3 distributors (Excel)". UNESCO Institute for Statistics. Retrieved 5 November 2013.
  4. "Table 1: Feature Film Production - Genre/Method of Shooting". UNESCO Institute for Statistics. Retrieved 5 November 2013.
  5. "Annual Report 2012/2013" (PDF). Union Internationale des Cinémas. Retrieved 10 November 2013.
  6. Gerasimov Institute foundation history
  7. NYFA Moscow
  8. Moscow International Film School homepage, translated
This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 11/25/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.