Head of Russia's Oscar Committee Calls for Giant Bomb/Official Selection to Withdraw on Account of It Sucks

burntbythesun2_300.jpgYou think the Oscars selection process gets political here? Just imagine sitting in the room when Russia's national Oscar committee grudgingly voted for Nikita Mikalhkov's enormous critical and commercial bomb, Burnt by the Sun 2: Citadel (Utomlyonnye solntsem 2: Predstoyanie), to become the country's official foreign language selection. Filmmaker and committee head Vladimir Menshov so strongly opposed the pick of the $45 million flop that he's now lobbying publicly for the film's director to pull out of the race.

Burnt by the Sun 2: Citadel is an expensive period war sequel to 1994's Burnt by the Sun, a 1930s-set Stalinist Russia drama that won Mikalhkov the foreign language Oscar. The sequel picks up during World War II, but critics panned it for various offenses including bad acting, illogical retconning, and an inane script. With a production budget of $45 million, Burnt by the Sun 2: Citadel only made $8.2 million back at the foreign box office when it opened in the spring of 2010. (A third Burnt by the Sun is reportedly in the works.)

"Even if we ignore the fact that audiences and critics hated the film, Citadel is part of a series," Menshov said in the Moskovskiye Novosti daily, via The Hollywood Reporter. "How can anyone who is out of the context make any sense of it?"

Mikalhkov has yet to oblige Menshov and withdraw from the Oscar race, but would you? Besides, terrible films wind up with Oscar nominations and wins every year. Granted, they're usually in technical categories (Norbit, Heaven's Gate - looking at you), not in major categories. And it's not like Burnt by the Sun 2 has gotten past the official selection stage to the shortlist or an actual nomination, which is really unlikely now.

But Menshov taking a stand against bad movies sets a noble example, and a good question; should a filmmaker decline a shot at an Oscar nod just because most everyone in the world hated their movie? And which bad Oscar nominees from the past deserve to have been pre-emptively taken out of the race on account of bad reviews and terrible returns?

While you mull it over, take a gander at the trailer for Burnt by the Sun 2: Citadel. (It's in Russian, but you get the picture.)

· Controversy Erupts Over Russia's Oscar Entry [THR]


  • Eren Odabasi says:

    Russia's submission this year is Burnt By The Sun 2: Citadel, which is no longer in the works, has been completed and submitted. All three Burnt by the Sun films are complete. They are:
    Burnt By the Sun 1994
    Burnt by the Sun 2: Exodus 2010 - the trailer posted belongs to this film.
    Burnt by the Sun 2: Citadel 2011 - this is the submitted one.
    The films are very confusingly titled as the latest part 2 is actually number three. Exodus ends very abruptly and does not make much sense without Citadel. (Not that it means anything after you watch all three!) This is why it is also named as "2". But it is the third film really. They're like Matrix 2 and 3, except Burnt couple are both horrible.
    Except the title confusion, all the comments on the films, the submission and the protest are accurate.

  • KevyB says:

    "They're like Matrix 2 and 3, except Burnt couple (?) are both horrible." Did you see Matrix 2 and 3? They are both horrible too!
    As far as I'm concerned Russia can submit a crappy movie every year. It's not like they're known for their great cinema anyhow.

  • The Pope says:

    Ex-squeeze me? Russian is not known for their great cinema? How about we talk you through this slowly: Dovzhenko, Pudovkin, Vertov, Kuleshov, Eisenstein. Yes, the very minds that helped define and refine the grammar of film. Then more recently, you have Tarkovsky, Mikhalkov, Sokurov.
    Or maybe I missed it and you were being ironic.

  • 2+2=5 says:

    Considering the fact that Mikalhkov (a personal friend of Putin) is the head of Russian Film academy and pretty much controlling everything related to filmmaking in Russia, the selection of his movie is not surprising.
    The guy decides how to spend national cinematic budget coming from taxpayers, and of course takes big chunk of it to his own production company, so he is kinda like a cultural dictator.
    I suggest to Menshov to start an uprising, sending fresh film students as suicide stink bombers to Mikalhkov's headquarters and calling NATO to drop tons of rotten tomatoes on his villa in the name of artistic freedom. Viva la resistance!

  • KevyB says:

    1) Most of those were SOVIET filmmakers, which is quite different from RUSSIAN, or is the history of film now more important than real history?
    2) Furthermore, the sentence was obviously written in the present tense, as in "It's not like they ARE known for their great cinema anyhow." In the last 14 years, the country has received ONE Oscar nomination. Mikhalkov's Burnt by the Sun, the only Russian movie to win, is 17 years old and hardly in a conversation of current cinema. Not that Oscars mean quality, but nobody knows any of the other submitted films.
    3) "Known" is a shortcut for "well-known". It means that more than film nerds need to know about it. The most recent Oscar nominee is Mikhalkov's "12", which is certainly not "known" by more than a handful of Americans. "Known" would probably include the not-at-all-recent Burnt by the Sun and Sokurov's Russian Ark (9 years old). And even those are pushing the envelope on the word.
    4) "Known" also means, "in comparison to others". Just because Washington isn't "known" for its potatoes, it doesn't mean it doesn't grow them. Idaho is just more known for it. Russia is not known for its cinema because there are dozens and dozens of countries who are BETTER KNOWN for their cinema.
    Russia IS KNOWN for caviar, vodka, failing at capitalism, killing journalists, stroganoff, crappy technology, Siberia, Sputnik, the ballet, and mail-order brides. It IS NOT KNOWN for cinema.