Films as Effective Tools for a Dialogue of Cultures Round Table Session

Films as Effective Tools for a Dialogue of Cultures round table session of film industry members of Russia-Islamic World Strategic Vision Group countries was held within the framework of the 13th Kazan International Muslim Film Festival.

The Minister of Culture of the Republic of Tatarstan, Ayrat Sibgatullin, highlighted a further rapprochement of Russia with Islamic world, an assistance to the establishment of networks and promotion of traditional values for fighting radical visions as key objectives of the Russia-Islamic World Strategic Vision Group. “Kazan International Muslim Film Festival has the same objectives. Implementing the motto ‘Through the dialogue of cultures to the culture of dialogue’, we could reveal peaceful essentials of Islam via films. The festival has many partners in international area. The professionals of film industry are interested in this issue” admitted Ayrat Sibgatullin.

According to the Minister of Culture, the Republic of Tatarstan is currently a region, which is extremely attractive for film industry and reach for talented professionals, with its established system of film production and distribution as well as a necessary training facilities for the young professionals. “At the same time, new challenges and new opportunities are coming. We are delighted to have such a possibility to discuss the issues of film industry development and opportunities for our further cooperation”, said Ayrat Sibgatullin.

The director of the Kazan Kremlin Museum-Reserve, Zilya Valeeva highlighted a symbolic meaning of the venue of the round table session that was held in ‘A Word of the Prophet in Islamic Art’ exposition at the Museum of Islam, Qul Sharif Mosque.

The round table session was moderated by Guzel Sharipova, a Deputy Minister of Culture of the Republic of Tatarstan, and Milyausha Aituganova, the director of Tatarkino.

Guzel Sharipova provided a presentation on the mechanisms of state support of the film industry of the Republic of Tatarstan: according to the results of recent studies, Tatarstan ranks third in Russia as regards the development of film industry (after Moscow and Saint Petersburg). Tatarstan has preserved Tatarkino state institution, which collection includes over 14 thousand film copies. The institution annually implements distributions of films in the region. Kazan takes the third place among Russian cities according to number of film screenings per 100 thousand people. In the Republic of Tatarstan, over 10 million roubles are allocated to state contracts for films production. At the same time, young professionals and training programs at Kazan State University of Culture and Arts receive special support. The region hosts over 30 film festivals. In total, 130-140 million roubles are allocated for the development of the film industry of the region in annual basis.

A film distributor, Alireza Shahrohi shared an Iranian experience in this field. He mentioned that Iran produces 130-150 films annually, in most cases, with the state support. All films are produced for a wide audience. It means that the number does not include festival and short films as well as TV films. A State Farabi Cinema Foundation as well as private foundations, including Documentary Film Centre, Iranian Young Cinema Society and others, are effectively operating in Iran. Films distribution is implemented by seven state institutions and dozens of private companies distributing Iranian films to different countries. Iran hosts large festivals, including internationals, as Fajr. “This festival is usually held in February. I would like to admit that, when politics attempts to create walls between cultures, we build a bridge across thesewalls to continue our dialogue”, said Alireza Shahrohi.

A Russian film critic, Sergey Anashkin, mentioned that the 13th edition of the Kazan International Muslim Film Festival has a separate‘Hindustan Across the Cultures’ programmewithin its out-of-competition segment. “Hindustan is not only about India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Bhutan, Nepal and Shri-Lanka. It is peoples living in this region and practicing various religions and traditional beliefs. As regards India with well-known Bollywood, it is necessary to highlight that each Indian state has itsown film industry. This situation is similar to Russia; which regions in the majority of cases has independent film industries”, commented Sergey Anashkin.

A participant of the round table session, the director of Dhaka International Film Festival Mustaba Zamal shared a difficult story of the development of Bangladesh cinema clearly related to a flight for independence of this country. In 1956, the first Bangla sounds film was produced. However, only 5 years ago, special film industry education programmes occurred at Bangladesh Universities. The development of new technologies enhanced the development of Bangla cinema. At the same time, Dhaka International Film Festival focused on full length feature films became annual and currently open for cooperation with various international festivals and producers.

A journalist and film critic Tahar Houchi, currently residing in Switzerland, an establisher of Geneva International Film Festival presented the state of relations between European and Muslim film industries and evaluated a dialogue between film producers as vital for further collaborations.

A Moroccan film critic, Abdurrazak touched the issue of the influence of Europeanfilm funding on African cinema. He noticed, that the majority of African films receiving such funding were usuallydevoted to the issues interesting for Europeans rather than reflecting social issues that these countries face. Only recently, African film industry became more independent and representing current topics of African societies.

An actress, the director of Aswan Women International Film Festival, Elham Shahin gave an overview of the development of Egyptian film industry: “Egypt currently produces 80 films a year. However, they are mostly comedies or action films aimed for the youth. If you would like to create a special film, its better if you produce it by yourself”, highlighted Elham Shahin. She thinks that a dialogue between film festivals may be built via films exchanges.

A Tajik director and script writer Sharofat Arabova provided comments on the development of the film industry of Tajikistan. She mentioned that since 1990-s, Tajikistan cinema has become more independent, reflecting various religious topics as well as a variety of opinions. About 3 feature and 4-5 documentary films are produced in the country with the state support. The distribution of Tajik films is a current issue.

A Kyrgyzstan film producer, Gulbara Tolomusheva shared the image of women reflected via Kyrgyz cinema. A possible cooperation with Aswan Women International Film Festival was suggested in this case, by a moderator of the session Milyausha Aituganova.

Milyausha Aituganova, a moderator of the session and the director of Kazan International Muslim Film Festival thanked the participants of the round table for their openness for negotiations and opportunities of film co-production with the Republic of Tatarstan. “The team of the festival will consider the opportunities for international films distribution in the region. The absolutely full cinema halls of the festival once and again confirms the strong interest of Tatarstan film goers in high quality international films”, concluded Milyausha Aituganova.