Federal Law No 126 of August 22, 1996 “On state support for the film industry in the Russian Federation” is the main piece of legislation regulating the film sector in Russia. In particular, it stipulates a state funding procedure for the production, distribution and exhibition of national films as well as the operation of the unified automated information system on film screenings (Russian Cinema Fund Analytics, or RCFA).
State support can only be provided to national films meeting the following criteria:
• The producer is a Russian citizen or a legal entity legitimately registered on the territory of the Russian Federation;
• The majority of the film’s authors (director, writer and composer) are Russian citizens;
• Not more than 30% of the film’s creative team do not have Russian citizenship;
• The film is in the Russian language or another language spoken in Russia, except for cases when the use of a foreign language is an integral part of the film’s artistic concept;
• At least 50% of the production is done by film companies registered in the Russian Federation;
• Foreign investment in the production does not exceed 50% of the film’s total budget;
• The film contains no profanity.
A film also qualifies as a national film if its production is carried out under the Russian Federation’s international agreements together with film producers who are foreign citizens, stateless persons, or foreign legal entities.
The document confirming a film’s status of a national film is a National Film Certificate (NFC). NFCs are issued by the Russian Culture Ministry.
An NFC can be obtained at the launch of a project when the following are in place:
– a production schedule;
– a script for a feature film and animation or a synopsis and treatment for a documentary film;
– contracts with authors.
State funding for the production of a national film is carried out on the basis of a state contract signed with a producer for the production of a national film in accordance with the Russian Federation laws on the contract system used in the procurement of goods, works, and services for state and municipal needs, or through providing subsidies from the federal budget in cases and via a procedure envisaged in the federal law on the federal budget for the corresponding financial year and for the planning period and the relevant regulations adopted by the Government of the Russian Federation.
Film funding is administered by:
• The Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation;
• The Cinema Fund, a non-profit organisation established by the Russian Government.
The proportion of state funding cannot exceed 70% of a film’s total budget. In exceptional cases, based on a project’s artistic and cultural value, the Culture Ministry can make a decision to provide state funding to a national film amounting to up to 100% of its production budget (based on the type of audiovisual work, the amount can be between RUB 2mln and RUB 70mln per project).
The Cinema Fund also supports national films at the box office in the form of 100% repayable financing. The maximum amount that the Fund can allocate should not exceed 70% of the total distribution costs and RUB 100mln. If a distributor receives funds for the distribution of a full-length national film (either a feature or an animation), the distributor must supply subtitles and audio commentary for the film from the allocated funds.
According to Federal Law No 126, in order to screen a film in a movie theater or online in Russia, an exhibition licence issued by the Russian Culture Ministry needs to be obtained.
A licence is not required for screenings:
• on free-to-air, cable or satellite television networks;
• at international film festivals on the Russian Culture Ministry’s list;
• carried out for exclusively cultural and educational purposes at museums, exhibition venues, cultural centres, recreation parks, libraries, archives, scientific and educational institutions;
• at intergovernmental events run as part of cultural exchange between the Russian Federation and a foreign country.
An exhibition licence specifies a film’s main parameters, its rights holder and age restrictions as well as its release date as listed by the distributor or producer in the exhibition license application.
If there are exhibition licence applications filed for the same release date by two or more films with a similar subject matter, genre and/or target audience, the ministry has the authority to suspend the exhibition licensing procedure to discuss a new release date with the rights holders.
The Culture Ministry of the Russian Federation has the right to refuse an exhibition licence or to withdraw a previously issued one on a number of grounds specified in “The rules for issuing, denying and withdrawing an exhibition licence for a film” adopted in Governmental Regulation No 143 dated February 27, 2016.
Information on the number of tickets sold for specific showtimes is fed in real-time into Russian Cinema Fund Analytics, or RCFA, a unified automated information system on film screenings. All commercial movie theaters in Russia are connected to the system. Screening data are available for free to any user of the RCFA mobile app or website, which makes Russia’s film exhibition industry one of the most transparent in the world.
Under Clause 2 Paragraph 21 of Article 14 of the Tax Code of the Russian Federation, the sale (as well as transfer, execution, or provision for one’s own needs) of works (services) for the production of films performed (provided) by cinematography organisations, rights for the use (including distribution and exhibition) of films that have received a national film certificate are exempt from taxation on the territory of the Russian Federation.
Audiovisual works are subject to copyright. Copyright extends to a part of a work, to its title, to a character, if by their nature they can be recognised as an independent result of the author’s creative effort.
Authors of an audiovisual work are:
1) the director;
2) the screenwriter;
3) the composer who composed a piece of music (with or without lyrics) specifically for the audiovisual work in question.
A person who organised the creation of a complex item that includes several copyright protected results of intellectual activity (for example, a movie) acquires the right to use these results of intellectual activity on the basis of agreements on the alienation of exclusive rights or licensing agreements signed by that person with the holders of exclusive rights to the relevant results of intellectual activity.
Federal Law No 436 of December 29, 2010 “On protection of children from information harmful to their health and development” stipulates film age ratings of 0+, 6+, 12+, 16+ and 18+. A movie theater can request a viewer to produce confirmation of their age or permission from parents for their children to watch a particular film.
Classification is carried out by a film’s producers and (or) distributors independently (including with the participation of an expert, experts and (or) expert organisations that meet the requirements set out in Article 17 of this Federal Law) before the film is released on the territory of the Russian Federation.
0+. Content for children under six
Content for children under the age of six can include content containing information that is not harmful to the health and (or) development of children (including content containing genre- and (or) plot-appropriate occasional and not graphic depiction or description of physical and (or) psychological violence (with the exception of sexual violence) provided that good triumphs over evil and that there is compassion for the victim of violence and (or) condemnation of violence).
6+. Content for children aged six
Content for children aged six can include content rated 0+ as well as content that contains genre- and (or) plot-appropriate:
1) brief and not graphic depiction or description of illness (with the exception of serious diseases) and (or) its consequences in a form that does not humiliate the subject;
2) not graphic depiction or description of an accident, road crash, disaster or non-violent death without showing their consequences that could provoke fear, horror or panic in children;
3) occasional depiction or description of antisocial behaviour and (or) crime that does not encourage either, provided there is no justification of these actions and the perpetrators are shown in a negative light and are subjected to censure.
12+. Content for children aged 12
Content for children aged 12 can include content rated 6+ as well as content that contains genre- and (or) plot-appropriate:
1) occasional depiction or description of cruelty and (or) violence (with the exception of sexual violence) without graphic demonstration of the process of killing or inflicting injury, provided there is compassion for the victim and (or) negative attitude to and condemnation of cruelty and violence (with the exception of violence used to protect the rights of citizens and the interests of society or the state protected by law);
2) not encouraging depiction or description of antisocial behaviour (including consumption of alcoholic and alcohol-containing products, gambling, vagrancy or begging), occasional mention (without demonstration) of drugs, psychotropic and (or) intoxicating substances, tobacco or nicotine products, provided there is no justification of antisocial behaviour, there is negative attitude to and condemnation of it and there is a warning about the danger of consuming these products and substances;
3) occasional and not graphic depiction or description of sexual relations between a man and a woman, provided they are not exploitative, arousing or insulting, with the exception of depiction or description of actions of a sexual nature.
16+. Content for children aged 16
Content for children aged 16 can include content rated 12+ as well as content that contains genre- and (or) plot-appropriate:
1) depiction or description of an accident, road crash, disaster, illness, death without a graphic demonstration of their consequences, which can provoke fear, horror or panic in children;
2) depiction or description of cruelty and (or) violence (with the exception of sexual violence) without graphic demonstration of the process of killing or inflicting injury, provided there is compassion for the victim and (or) negative attitude to and condemnation of cruelty and violence (with the exception of violence used to protect the rights of citizens and the interests of society or the state protected by law);
3) information about drugs or psychotropic and (or) intoxicating substances (without their demonstration), and the dangerous consequences of their consumption, with a demonstration of relevant cases, provided there is negative attitude to or condemnation of the consumption of such drugs or substances and a warning about the danger posed by their consumption;
4) certain swear words and (or) expressions that do not belong to obscene language;
5) depiction or description of sexual relations between a man and a woman, provided they are not exploitative and insulting, with the exception of depiction or description of actions of a sexual nature.
18+. Content banned for distribution among children includes content:
1) encouraging children to commit actions that pose a threat to their life and (or) health, including self-harm and suicide, or the life and (or) health of other persons, or content aimed at inducing or otherwise involving children to commit such actions;
2) capable of inducing children to use drugs, psychotropic and (or) intoxicating substances, tobacco products, nicotine products, alcoholic and alcohol-containing products, take part in gambling, engage in prostitution, vagrancy or begging;
3) explaining or justifying violence and (or) cruelty, or encouraging violent actions in relation to people or animals, with the exception of cases envisaged in the relevant federal Law;
3.1) containing depiction or description of sexual violence;
4) rejecting family values, promoting non-traditional sexual relations and inciting disrespect to parents and (or) other family members;
5) justifying unlawful behaviour;
6) containing obscene language;
7) containing pornographic content;
8) containing information about a minor who has suffered as a result of illegal actions (inaction), including their surname, first name, patronymic, photo and video of the minor, their parents and other legal representatives, their date of birth, an audio recording of their voice, their place of residence or place of temporary stay, place of study or work, other information that makes it possible to directly or indirectly identify the said minor.
Federal Law No 2124-1, dated December 27, 1991 “On mass media” establishes the legal basis for the operation of television and internet in Russia.
Federal Law No 38, dated March 13, 2006 “On advertising” establishes regulations for the placement of advertisements.
Federal Law No 149, dated July 27, 2006 “On information, information technology and protection of information” restricts access to websites containing pirated content.