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The cartoon “Smeshariki” is known by most Russian children. It has survived Russia’s troubled animation industry, which is mostly dominated by western cartoons.
But today most Russian children watch western cartoons of the past, and a few modern ones.
[Olga Kalugin, Parent]:
"Over the past few years we were watching something like ‘Tom and Jerry’, ‘Gummy Bears’, ‘Ghost Busters’. I cannot even remember any domestic ones."
Animators point out that the industry is going through a crisis. Only three or four domestic cartoons are being screened in Russian cinemas each year. And there are more western cartoons being shown.
The Moscow studio "Pilot" says that production is limited because of a budget deficit. Funding comes from the Ministry of Culture. But the studio has not received any funding for eight months. And the staff has had to come to work without getting paid.
[Sergei Merinov, Director of "Pilot" Studio]:
"Everybody is trying to survive somehow, and still doing something. People are working for the idea, without a salary for months. But frankly, I think it's wild."
The studio "Space of Ideas" had some success with its animated series. But they are not ready to produce cartoons for children. They are not profitable for TV channels, because advertising to children is prohibited during broadcasts, according to Russian law.
It is also difficult to show domestic cartoons in the cinemas. Screenings are booked for foreign productions months in advance. The big screen cartoon format is quite challenging for most animation studios because of a limited budget and a shortage of talent.
Russian animators say the industry desperately needs government support. It should incorporate the promotion of animation on television and update media technology.
NTD, Moscow, Russia