Russian cinema defies government ban by screening ‘The Death Of Stalin’

Armando Iannucci's 2017 satire is currently being screened in one Moscow theatre, prompting a visit from police today (January 26)

A cinema in Moscow has defied the Russian government by screening the film The Death of Stalin – despite it being banned in the country.

The Thick Of It creator Armando Iannucci’s 2017 satire, which starred the likes of Steve Buscemi, Michael Palin and Paddy Considine, told the story of the power struggle in the Soviet Union in the immediate aftermath of dictator Joseph Stalin’s death in 1953.

The film was unsurprisingly the subject of a Russian ban, with one report in September claiming that a high-ranking advisor to the country’s culture ministry had denounced The Death of Stalin as “a planned provocation” with potential to “incite hatred”.

However, the Pioneer Cinema in central Moscow began showing The Death of Stalin yesterday (January 25), and had been selling tickets to screenings up until February 3.

The defiance of the ban resulted in the arrival of Russian police to the Pioneer Cinema earlier today. Officers refused to give a reason for their visit to the cinema when questioned by reporters.

Cinemagoers who managed to see The Death of Stalin at the Pioneer Cinema gave mostly positive reactions to the film when asked by BBC Russia.

“It really is extremism to ban such a film,” one woman remarked, while another simply said: “This film has to be seen”.

Earlier this month, the BBC drama McMafia was criticised by the Russian Embassy in the UK for depicting Britain “as a playground for Russian gangsters”.