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Supporting Naum Kleiman and the Moscow Cinema Museum

18.11.2014

Mark Cousins, Tilda Swinton and Thierry Fremaux have issued an open letter to the Russian Prime Minister in order to support Naum Kleiman and the Moscow Cinema Museum. You can support the statement as well.

Naum Kleiman

The entire professional staff of the Moscow Cinema Museum, being 22 employees, including all curators, archivists and film programmers, has resigned from their posts. This happened on 27 October 2014 when the staff felt it impossible to continue their work under the new leadership of Larisa Solonitsyna, appointed on July 1, 2014.

Solonitsyna was appointed as the Ministry for Culture chose not to extend the contract of Naum Kleiman, one of the founders of the Moscow Cinema Museum and its director for over 25 years.

Now Naum Kleiman, who is a member of European Film Academy, is deeply worried about what will happen to the great collection of this unique museum. If you wish to support Naum Kleiman and the Moscow Film Museum, you can do so by signing the following open letter to the Russian Prime Minister from Mark Cousins, Tilda Swinton and Thierry Fremaux. 

You can add your name by an e-mail to p.edelmann_@If you can read this, please upgrade to a modern browser.europeanfilmacademy.org or to s&s@bfi.org.uk

This is the open letter published by Mark Cousins, Tilda Swinton and Thierry Fremaux:

To Prime-Minister of Russian Government,

Dmitry Medvedev

Russian and Soviet films have been amongst the greatest artworks of the last century. We filmmakers and movie lovers around the world – in Europe, America, Asia and elsewhere – have been enriched by them. We watch the films by Sergei Eisenstein and many others and, in doing so, discover particular and unique ways in which this art form can be.

We, of course, cannot be custodians of this heritage, these treasures. We rely on the great Russian film historians to be keepers of the flame of these films, to help us understand why they are priceless.

Those of us who have met Naum Kleiman know that he is the first amongst these scholars. For decades now, he has protected and, brilliantly, presented, the achievements of Eisenstein, Boris Barnet and many other filmmakers. Kleiman and his team at the Moscow Cinema Museum have shown, for a generation now, judgement, generosity and scholarship which is world class, and from which every archive and cinematheque can learn.

We are, therefore, deeply concerned to hear that Kleiman and his staff have been dismissed from the role of keepers of the flame. We do not know all the political complexities of what has happened, but we would like to protest, in the strongest possible terms, against the ill-advised changes in the leadership of film policy in Russia.

Just like in 1968, when filmmakers as diverse as Orson Welles and Carl Theodor Dreyer, wrote to the French government, decrying the dismissal of Henri Langlois, we want to say: this Cinema Museum isn’t only yours, it’s ours too. And we trust Kleiman and his team. They have proved themselves and we can learn from them. Respect their knowledge and integrity, realise how wise you will be to cherish and rely upon it for the sake of the humane business of founding the culture of the future on the profound and incalculably precious roots of the past – and please reverse your decisions.

We call on other filmmakers around the world to endorse or sign this statement, in solidarity and cinephile friendship.

Mark Cousins, Tilda Swinton, Thierry Fremaux

 

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