In spite of calls to ban the film by religious conservatives, Russia's Ministry of Culture has cleared for release Alexey Uchitel's contentious upcoming historical drama Matilda, which depicts an affair between Nicholas II and ballerina Mathilde Kschessinska.

Yesterday the ministry released a statement confirming that it had issued a screening certificate for the film with a 16+ certificate. According to the head of the ministry's film department, Vyacheslav Telnov, Matilda complies fully with the law.

However, although the film has been cleared for release across Russia, individual regional authorities will be able to ban it on their territory. This will surely be music to the ears of Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, who had previously appealed to the Culture Ministry to ban the film in Chechnya. In addition, authorities in neighbouring Dagestan have expressed their disapproval of the film.

This development brings a level of conclusion to the seemingly never-ending saga surrounding Matilda, which centres on ballerina Mathilde Kschessinska and her relationship with Nicholas II. The unreleased film has been the subject of considerable controversy and criticism both from representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church and government officials. Bishop Tikhon (Shevkunov), often referred to as the personal confessor of Russian President Vladimir Putin, dubbed the movie “slander” in its portrayal of Nicholas II, while earlier this year Russian State Duma deputy Natalia Poklonskaya collected 100,000 messages and signatures from citizens and officials against the film.

The premiere of Matilda is scheduled for 6 October 2017, while it is reported that Yekaterinburg-based director Sergiy Aliyev is preparing to release a film to counter the version of events depicted in Matilda, entitled The Lie of Matilda.

Source: Paper (in Russian)

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