Mosfilm and YouTube upload trove of classic Russian movies

May 17, 2011
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Legendary Russian film studio Mosfilm and YouTube have partnered to create a Mosfilm YouTube channel offering an online trove of classic Russian movies.  Many of the films are subtitled, allowing Russian and non-Russian film enthusiasts alike to have free, unprecedented access to the studio’s extensive collection.

Available for streaming are works by Soviet masters such as Sergei Eisenstein and Andrei Tarkovsky as well as lesser-known adventure films, musicals and war dramas. Fifty unabridged films were initially uploaded to the site, and Mosfilm said it will add five films every week, meaning that by the end of the year, 200 films will be available in high definition.

In addition to taking advantage of the latest streaming technologies, the initiative is also a proactive step to counter Russia’s problems with film piracy.  As explained by Karen Shakhnazarov, Mosfilm's general director and also a filmmaker, producer and screenwriter, the studio aims to limit piracy and illegal downloading by giving access to legal licensed video content.

 Filmmaker Mitchell Johnson, whose company Abamedia has worked on various Russian documentary and archival film projects, believes the project is also significant in terms of Russia’s cultural diplomacy.  “This is a very intelligent and timely move on the part of Mosfilm and YouTube, and a win for the U.S.-Russia relationship,” he told  “Not only does it allow Mosfilm to demonstrate to the world Russia's high-end cultural and "soul capital," but at the same time, Mosfilm creates a value-proposition with the millions of Russians across the globe by using a high-tech and legal content platform.”

 Johnson and others also argue that Mosfilm’s new YouTube channel provides a way to reconnect Russia’s tech-savvy, post-Soviet generation to their rich cinematic heritage. In a recent Wall Street Journal article, Alla Verlotsky, founder and president of the New York-based Seagull Films, which programs and distributes Soviet and Russian cinema, noted how many younger Russians were raised on Hollywood movies that flooded the country’s theaters after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Verlotsky sees the YouTube channel as a way for them to discover classic Russian movies.

 How do you think such access to classic Russian movies benefits both Russians and non-Russians? Which films do you recommend from the collection?



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