Armando Iannucci’s black comedy about the aftermath of Joseph Stalin's death is facing a complete ban in Russia. An advisor to the culture ministry is labelling the film a “planned provocation”.
The Death of Stalin, which aired at the Toronto Film Festival last week, stars Adrian Mcloughlin as Stalin, Michael Palin as the Soviet leader’s protégé Vyacheslav Molotov, and also features Steve Buscemi, Jeffrey Tambor, and Olga Kurylenko. It’s a pointed satire that traces the fighting inside the Kremlin following Stalin's death in 1953.
Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman, said he trusted the culture ministry to exercise responsible judgement when assessing the content of the film, though the country’s chequered past with censorship of all forms is an ominous sign for the upcoming feature, which is due for release on October 20 in Europe and the U.S. The country has a dangerous reputation for the expulsion and murder of journalists, and news as far back as 2013 uncovered the government programme that was initiating the “selective blocking (of) the internet”.
Iannucci is known for his political satire, creating HBO series Veep and The Thick Of It, which mock and scrutinise the American and British governments respectively.
His film comes at a time of increased sympathetic sentiment towards Stalin, encouraged by Vladimir Putin, and demonstrated by a new statue of the Soviet leader, which is being erected in the capital Moscow on September 22 this year. The Guardian reports that Russia's Communist Party has previously called the film “revolting” and “a nasty send-up by outsiders who know nothing of our history”.
Iannucci and Entertainment One Films will await the verdict of Russia’s cultural decision makers while audiences in the west enjoy the movie upon its release next month.
The Death of Stalin is released on the 20th October 2017 on eOne Films (U.K.) and IFC Films (U.S)