“I think that when talking about religious themes on TV, preference should be given to the creation of a separate theme-based channel”

5 May 2009, 18:09 | Interview | 0 |   | Code for Blog |  | 

batruh.jpgInterview with Bohdan BATRUKH, director of B&H Film Distribution and Consulting, official distributor of United International Pictures, Paramount, Dream Works, Walt Dіsney, owner of Kinopalats network.

At the conference “Moral dilemmas of business,” held by the Institute of Religion and Society of UCU on 3-4 April, 2009, in Lviv one of the main presenters was Bohdan Batrukh. His report dealt with moral-ethical dilemmas existing in business, life orientation, and the question where we are and where we are going. The speaker offered love in its Christian sense as the basis of the balance between poverty and wealth. He specifically focused on the question of holiness and art in the modern world. As the participants noted, one could assume that the speaker had theological education.

—Your presentation at the conference “Moral dilemmas of business” resembled that of a speech of a professional theologian. What role does the question of religion play in your life and in particular your work? How much does the fact that you are a believer affect your business?

—I am not a professional theologian. I am even uncomfortable with the definition “professional theologian.” I am a living person, and if there are questions for me, they are serious ones. One has to answer them somehow. I try to answer them frankly within my abilities, for otherwise, why raise them at all? Every person constituting what is called the Church, regardless of their class or profession, has to give answers to questions…

—Our film market is far from what believers would like it to be. What is your internal evaluation?

—Firstly, cinema itself is a very useful phenomenon, as it is a living art, one of the few in the modern world because people can experience films emotionally. Secondly, Ukraine is not in a very good position with respect to filmmaking, as it is a very underdeveloped industry, which requires resources, talent, and a proper order of things. This business in Ukraine should be overseen by the Ministry of Culture of Ukraine. Unfortunately, the Ministry of Culture in Ukraine is a remnant of the Soviet times. Therefore, the institution is absolutely unable to ensure that the Ukrainian film industry can create anything positive.

—Can you, as the owner of Kinopalats network, influence the situation, for example, reject films, which for you, as a Christian, are not good or harmful?

—Yes, we can reject films, which we consider harmful and we do it very often. These include horror films, which are full of excessive violence. As for erotic, we do not have such films. As far as the other criteria, people usually vote with their legs: either they go to a movie or they don’t.

—Have you had situations when interested people wanted to push forward bad films?

—I would not call those films bad. They are not good for general viewing. However, they can be absolutely acceptable for viewing by certain circles, where specialists can analyze types of psychological problems.

—In your speech you said that films containing violence are not always bad. You mentioned the Passion of Christ as an example. There is a lot of violence there, but the film, probably, does not encourage violence.

—As for violence in a film, the fact of its presence itself is not as important as the way it is presented. If a film contains an admiration for violence and for its propagation, this is obviously very dangerous.

—Do you make the analysis, which can help define what the people in Ukraine want to view the most?

—People in Ukraine prefer romantic comedies, and generally, romantic themes: they are the most successful films. These are followed by big epic pictures depicting a certain historic period with its conflicts and questions. Then come fantasy, fairytales, and films about an imaginary world.

—We are now experiencing not only economic crises but also psychological crises for many. Do these crises affect the tastes and needs of the viewer in any sense?

—Since last year, all films have been dubbed into Ukrainian. We feared that viewers would not go to the movies. It was strange, but at the very beginning of the crises, when the situation was so uncertain, sales of tickets increased to a large degree in the eastern regions. This year, the sales of tickets are 70% higher than last year. The 70% is calculated in terms of proceeds, and, in terms of the total number of sold tickets, it is 40%. Mass attendance of cinemas at the time of crises and when all films are dubbed into Ukrainian is very interesting.

—To what, in your opinion, is this fact attributed? Are people very attracted by the Ukrainian language or do they seek emotional relaxation at such a tense time?...

—I think people in eastern Ukraine need things in quality Ukrainian language, as they declare to be Ukrainians but have no access to this language despite the fact they would like to have contact with it, perhaps, to recollect it. One may call it an association with traumatic elements, because they are not proud of the fact that they do not speak the language, they need, so to say, self-expression and to overcome this traumatic barrier. In my opinion, there are up to 70% of such people in Donetsk, and up to 60 % in Odessa, which also constitutes a majority.

—Many people state that the Ukrainian translation became considerably better. In many cases, it is of better quality than the Russian one.

—For instance, in Russia, no one pays much attention to dubbing films into Russian. They have no problem with that, therefore, the dubbing is often performed by amateurs only because it is cheaper. Their dubbing is not of a high level. In Ukraine, on the other hand, it is a matter of principle and no one will economize on that. Professionals are selected. And, perhaps, this difference is due exactly to this reason.

—Let us return to the subject of the conference. You have been working in Ukraine for many years now. Do you feel any changes in the area of entrepreneurship? Is Ukrainian business becoming more moral, are wishes of persons who want to be more socially responsible felt?

—Needs are there, but there have not been big changes. In general, in Ukraine these changes are very much associated with how quickly Ukraine will move towards the European Union. I think that only the standards, laws, and principles of the European Union can change something here, in the business environment of Ukraine. First of all, it is a clear definition of the necessary standards, purification, and reform of the court system. These are things, which will make businessmen in Ukraine work honestly; otherwise, the Latin American version will come true in Ukraine and this would be very unpleasant.

—How do you, as a Christian, feel doing business here? Do you not have to compromise your conscience?

—We are in an exceptionally privileged position, because we receive goods from abroad and distribute them in Ukraine in the form, which is fitting for this country. We have no contact with the Ukrainian business as such; we have almost nothing to do with what is going on here, we produce nothing in Ukraine and transport nothing out of Ukraine, etc. We are lucky. I think our situation is exceptional.

—As for Ukrainian filmmaking, do you not use any of its production?

—We show almost no Ukrainian films, we do not make Ukrainian films, even though we may like to do it. We even tried to do it several times, but it turned out to be a very difficult task.

—What is the reason for that: the lack of the state support for the film industry or the bad quality of the products?

—The main reason is that the Ministry of Culture is oriented to interpret budgets and not to be in film production.

—There are many films with a Christian, religious foundation. Are such films popular?

—Yes, very popular. Obviously, many people heard about the film Passion of Christ, which was very well perceived in Ukraine. There are also other films, for instance, Chronicles of Narnia. These are examples of films, where the Church directly organizes attendance of cinemas. There are many such films, not on a massive scale, but a sufficient number. The themes are alive and that is why they are demonstrated in films. Cinema is a rather democratic form of participation in a culture.

—In addition to cinema, you also have good knowledge of the Ukrainian TV market. We do not have many Christian programs so far, but how do you evaluate the ones broadcasted on TV today?

—Firstly, let us draw a distinguishing line between television and individual films. Every film shown by us usually has a budget of more than 50-150 million dollars. This is tremendous amount of money; therefore, no one will risk addressing marginal themes in such a film, which are of no interest to the mass audience, of course. Therefore, these films are of a high level.

Television, on the other hand, to a great extent uses cheap and, consequently, low-quality production. The problems there are of a completely different level, and very often they are very big problems.

As for individual channels or programs of the Ukrainian television, the TV channel Culture, for instance, could be much better. One would like it to be. I am very surprised by the TV channel Hlas, which, in my opinion, is very positively distinguished in the current circumstances of Ukraine. It is very pleasant that this phenomenon exists in Ukraine. I know that there are no such things in other countries. And this surprises me. I saw no such channel in Poland or France or Germany… I think that when talking about religious themes on TV, preference should be given to the creation of a separate theme-based channel, as individual programs are lost on a general channel and are adjusted to the format.

—There exists an idea of the need to change the mass media and in particular TV. Our children grow up to be much more acquainted with the means of communication, in a world of diverse supply through the mass media. How, in your opinion, should one adjust the TV and cinema market for them?

—Talking about themes, I do not think there is a big difference here. The difference lies in the type of media to be used by the youth and children. It is, first of all, the internet. For instance, young people spend a lot of time on games. One should use this resource to show young people things, which would be of much bigger intellectual value to them. All the ways to work with the internet are very important for having contact with the modern youth.

— Thank you for the interview.

Interviewer: Taras ANTOSHEVSKYI.
Lviv, 4 April, 2009

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    • bopa | 8 June 2020, 11:43

      То перераховані факти ви називаєте "фантазиями и ночными кошмарами"? Чому викладену інформацію ви "Очередная статья нижайшего интеллектуального уровня"? У вас

    • Slava43 | 4 June 2020, 13:46

      Це жодна агітація. На Буковині казали :»Мойше герехт, Сури герехт».

    • Slava43 | 4 June 2020, 13:39

      За часів союза, УПЦ підлягала моіковському патріярхату, примусово. Від незалежності УПЦ старалась отримати незалежність від Москви. Тепер, коли Україна має ТОМОС та незалежність то Лавру потрібно

    • Стефан | 2 June 2020, 15:54

      Последние события показали глубокий кризис РПЦ МП, где только отдельные редкие священнослужители твёрдо исповедуют Православную Веру, как схиигумен отец Сергий Романов, которого сейчас травят

    • Рокитне | 2 June 2020, 12:34

      Це добре було б.

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