Hedgehog in the Fog Hedgehog in the Fog

Soyuzmultfilm, probably the most famous state-owned studio in animation history, is going private.

Eighty-five years after its founding, the Moscow-based studio has been turned into a joint-stock company. At least 75% of shares will be put up for sale, with the government retaining the rest. Yuliana Slashcheva has been appointed chairman of the board of directors of the new company, and Boris Mashkovtsev has been named general director.

The studio was most recently constituted as a Federal State Unitary Enterprise (a type of state-owned corporation). Commenting on the change, Slashcheva said:

[This kind of entity], which was relevant several decades ago, has lost its effectiveness today. If in the turbulent 1990s … the state prioritized enhanced control over especially valuable assets, now it is interested in the progressive development of a number of enterprises, increasing their economic efficiency, and [an] actively growing animation industry is no exception. SMF Studio [Soyuzmultfilm] intends to become a significant player in the world market in the coming years, and in the conditions of the Federal State Unitary Enterprise, the conclusion of large partnerships both on the national and international markets is an impossible task.

The Russian federal state will retain the rights to works created at Soyuzmultfilm between 1950 and 2003, which the studio will be able to use on a licensing basis. The company will own works created after 2003.

Soyuzmultfilm is responsible for many classics of world animation over the decades — particularly in the Soviet years, when state funding for the arts was at its peak. It produced works by acclaimed auteurs like Yuri Norstein, Ivan Ivanov-Vano, Lev Atamanov, and Nina Shorina. Its archive of classic Soviet films is known as the “golden collection.”

Following a decline in production during the post-Soviet turbulence of the 1990s, the studio was reconstituted as a Federal State Unitary Enterprise in 2002. It has since remained active in animation production, with an emphasis on children’s films and series.

Lately, Soyuzmultfilm has also been expanding its activities outside production. Initiatives include the development of an animation cluster in the eastern territory of Khabarovsk Krai and the creation of “Soyuzmultparks,” multimedia hubs inspired by the studio’s history and works.

Image at top: Yuri Norstein’s “Hedgehog in the Fog” (1975)

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