|Industry||Animated motion pictures|
|Founded||10 June 1936|
|Headquarters||Dolgorukovskaya St. 23a,
Moscow, Russia 103006
(film fund: same address, postal code: 127006)
|Key people||Ernest Rakhimov (film fund director)|
|Products||Animated motion pictures
|Owner(s)||Ministry for Culture of Russia|
|Employees||Of creative studio:
123 as of April 14, 2007 (it is unclear whether this number includes contractors)
Soyuzmultfilm (Russian: Союзмультфильм, translated as Union Animation Film) is a Russian animation studio based in Moscow. Over the years it has gained international attention and respect, garnering numerous awards both at home and abroad. Noted for a great variety of style, it is regarded as the most influential animation studio of the former Soviet Union. The studio has produced 1530 films during its existence.
It is currently divided into two studios: "Creative union of the "Film studio "Soyuzmultfilm" («Творческо-производственное объединение «Киностудия «Союзмультфильм») and the Soyuzmultfilm Film Fund («Фильмофонд Киностудии «Союзмультфильм»).
History during the Soviet era
The Studio was founded on 10 June 1936 under the name Soyuzdetmultfilm (Союздетмультфильм – abbr. from Union Children's Animations). The name was changed to Soyuzmultfilm on 20 August 1937. Initially comprising only a few scattered workshops, Soyuzmultfilm grew quickly, soon becoming the Soviet Union's premier animation studio. The studio produced exclusively traditional animation until 1954, when a "puppet division" was founded and the first stop motion-animated film released. The puppet division would later also make cutout-animated films.
During the Soviet era, the studio employed a maximum of over 700 skilled labourers and released an average of 20 films each year (the highest number was 47, in 1973).
Over the next five decades, many Soyuzmultfilms contained characters who would eventually become an integral part of Soviet culture, such as Winnie-the-Pooh (Винни-Пух), Crocodile Gena (Крокодил Гена), Film, Film, Film (Фильм, фильм, фильм), Karlsson-on-the-Roof (Карлсон, который живёт на крыше), The Musicians of Bremen (Бременские музыканты), Three from Buttermilk Village (Трое из Простоквашино), Nu, pogodi! (Ну, погоди!), Hedgehog in the Fog (Ёжик в тумане), and The Mystery of the Third Planet (Тайна третьей планеты).
The variety of animation styles and the unprecedented degree of artistic freedom given to its many animators made Soyuzmultfilm perhaps the most diverse of the world's major animation studios.
Soyuzmultfilm's creativity was fueled in part by the unique conditions of the Soviet Union which made it possible for the studio to disregard the commercial appeal of its films. Because animators were paid by the Academy of Film regardless of how well or how poorly their products sold (though they were not, in fact, "sold"), they were free to pursue their artistic vision without giving a thought to finances.
The collapse of the Soviet Union brought to a close the golden era of Soyuzmultfilm. New economic realities made it impossible for the government to support the studio any longer. In 1989, Soyuzmultfilm was made into a leased enterprise (expiring after 10 years) and forced into the capitalist marketplace.
Although the studio survived, it shrank dramatically, losing nearly 90% of its staff and releasing only a few films. One early misfortune happened when the Russian courts transferred the studio's puppet division building (in a legal decision involving many other buildings) to the Russian Orthodox Church. Before the animators could react to this turn of events, an Orthodox Cossack squadron, accompanied by religious locals, broke into the building with swords unsheathed for the purpose of exorcism and began throwing out the "satanic puppets animated with the blood of Christian babies". No studio employees were allowed to come in and salvage any item, despite the presence of much expensive equipment and a whole library of puppets.
The main reason for the collapse, however, was the studio's deliberate dismantling by the new top management and the illegal selling off of its assets for personal gain (see: – in Russian). In 1992–1993, Sergei Skulyabin was elected president.
Films by Jove controversy
In 1992,[not in citation given] the studio signed a deal with the American company Films by Jove, owned by Russian immigrant actor Oleg Vidov and his American wife Joan Borsten. It was the first international offer that the studio had received. The deal stipulated that Films by Jove would be granted the rights to 547 of the most popular classic studio films for a period of 10 years in all territories except the CIS; as part of the return, Soyuzmultfilm would receive 37% of the net profits. Films by Jove restored many of the films and released many of them on television, video and DVD in the United States and Europe, albeit usually with dubbed voices and changed music.
According to current director Akop Kirakosyan, the original deal seemed promising at the time but turned out to be "deadly" for the studio. The expected payouts never materialized because Films by Jove never posted any net profits; all of the money officially went to things like new soundtracks, lawsuits and anti-pirating measures.
Whether either deal was legal was debated in court, with the Soyuzmultfilm Film Fund (see section below) claiming that because the company's lease on its possessions would have expired in 1999 (at which time ownership would have automatically reverted to the government if no new lease were signed), Soyuzmultfilm had no authority to issue rights that lasted beyond that timeframe. Joan Borsten presented a different story. In the end, the Russian courts sided with Soyuzmultfilm and the American courts sided with Films by Jove.
U.S. Federal Court found that the Russian government has twice tried to invalidate Judge Trager's August 2001 summary judgment decision in favor of Films By Jove and transfer the copyrights to a library of 1,500 animated films, which Films by Jove licensed from Soyuzmultfilm Studios in 1992 to a new state-owned company. The judge found evidence of "continued actions being taken by the Russian government and judiciary to influence the outcome of this United States litigation with the purpose of depriving plaintiff Films by Jove of its right to distribute the animated films in the United States and elsewhere outside the former Soviet Union." The voulminous and very thorough decision further noted that, "In the case at bar, expropriation of the property of an American company by an act of a foreign sovereign is unquestionably against the public policy of the United States."
On 11 April 2007, Russian businessman Alisher Usmanov announced that he was in the final stages of negotiating a price with Films by Jove to buy back the collection. A source close to Usmanov said that Films by Jove's initial price was $10 million, while Usmanov is willing to pay "several times less", as he considers that the rights already belong to Soyuzmultfilm and that he himself is only buying the physical film prints. In September 2007, the deal was finalized, and Usmanov handed everything over to Russian state children's TV channel Bibigon.
In 1999, Soyuzmultfilm came back under the control of the government. A government edict on 10 January 2003  divided the company into two separate companies. The separation was finalised on March 1, 2004.
The rights of all Soyuzmultfilm films before March 1, 2004 belong to the "Soyuzmultfilm Film Fund", headed by Ernest Rakhimov, and its official mission is restoring and marketing them. The mission of the "Creative union of the "Film studio "Soyuzmultfilm", headed by Akop Kirakosyan, is to create new films (anywhere from 3–7 short films a year) and to eventually privatize itself (currently, 100% of its stock is owned by the Russian Ministry of Culture).
The next year, Soyuzmultfilm created an animated opening title for the children's TV show Ulitsa Sezam.
In August 2013, the studio relocated to Moscow's Design Bureau of Film Equipment, after spending 68 years in their former premises. According to artistic director Michael Aldashin, "Everything must be decided within a year. There are too many technical and bureaucratic problems, but we are clearly moving." Aldashin also cited the limited space in the premises as a factor behind the move.
As of 2013, Soyuzmultfilm is contemplating the production of computed-animated and educational films, as well as video games. Since the early 2000s, the studio has worked on the upcoming feature film Gofmaniada. Backed by Mikhail Shemyakin and directed by Stanislav Sokolov, it will be based on the tales of E.T.A. Hoffman. The film will use stop motion animation exclusively and will avoid using computer animation for special effects. The first 20 minutes were screened on November 20, 2006, in St. Petersburg, and the full film is planned for a 2015 release.
Animators & directors
- 1942 Fox, Hare and Cock (Лиса Заяц и Петух)
- 1944 The Stolen Sun (КРАДЕНОЕ СОЛНЦЕ)
- 1946 Spring Melodies (Весе́нние мело́дии)
- 1947 The Humpbacked Horse (Конёк-Горбуно́к)
- 1947 To You, Moscow (Тебе́, Москва́!)
- 1949 Wonderful Bell (Чудесный колокольчик)
- 1950 When Christmas trees are lighted (КОГДА ЗАЖИГАЮТСЯ ЕЛКИ)
- 1950 Who's first? (Кто первый?)
- 1951 The Tale of the Dead Princess and the Seven Knights (Сказка о мёртвой царевне и о семи богатырях)
- 1952 The Scarlet Flower (А́ленький цвето́чек)
- 1952 Kashtanka (Каштанка)
- 1952 The Snow Maiden (Снегу́рочка)
- 1953 Flight to the Moon
- 1954 The Golden Antelope (Золота́я антило́па)
- 1955 The Enchanted Boy (Заколдованный мальчик)
- 1956 The Twelve Months (Двенадцать месяцев)
- 1957 One in a faraway kingdom (В не́котором ца́рстве)
- 1957 The Snow Queen (Сне́жная короле́ва)
- 1958 Beloved Beauty (Краса́ ненагля́дная)
- 1958 Cat's House (Кошкин дом)
- 1961 Chipolino (Чиполлино)
- 1962 The Story of a Crime (Исто́рия одного́ преступле́ния)
- 1962 The Wild Swans (Ди́кие ле́беди)
- 1964 Lefty (Левша́)
- 1964 Thumbelina (Дюймовочка)
- 1967 Mowgli (Ма́угли)
- 1968 Little Boy and Karlsson (Малы́ш и Ка́рлсон)
- 1968 The Little Mermaid (Русалочка)
- 1969–2006 Nu, pogodi! (Ну, погоди!)
- 1969 Crocodile Gena (Крокодил Гена)
- 1969, released 1986 The Glass Harmonica (Стеклянная гармоника)
- 1969 The Bremen Town Musicians (Бременские музыканты)
- 1969 Winnie-the-Pooh (Винни-Пух)
- 1969 Film, Film, Film (Фильм, фильм, фильм)
- 1970 Karlsson Returns (Ка́рлсон верну́лся)
- 1971 Cheburashka (Чебура́шка)
- 1971 Winnie-the-Pooh Goes on a Visit (Ви́нни-Пух идёт в го́сти)
- 1972 Winnie-the-Pooh and the Day of Concern (Ви́нни-Пу́х и день забо́т)
- 1973 On the Trail of Town Musicians of Bremen (По следа́м бре́менских музыка́нтов)
- 1973 The Heron and the Crane (Ца́пля и жура́вль)
- 1973 The Island (О́стров)
- 1973 The Nutcracker (Щелку́нчик)
- 1974 Shapoklyak (Шапокля́к)
- 1975 Hedgehog in the Fog (Ёжик в тума́не)
- 1975 The Box with a Secret (Шкату́лка с секре́том)
- 1976–1991 38 Parrots (38 попуга́ев)
- 1977–1983 The Smallest Dwarf (Самый маленький гном)
- 1978 Three from Buttermilk Village (Тро́е из Простоква́шино)
- 1978 Contact (Конта́кт)
- 1978–1985 At the back desk (На за́дней па́рте)
- 1979 Tale of Tales (Ска́зка ска́зок)
- 1980 Vacation in Buttermilk Village (Кани́кулы в Простоква́шино)
- 1981 The Mystery of the Third Planet (Та́йна тре́тьей плане́ты)
- 1981 Dog in Boots (Пёс в сапога́х)
- 1982 Once Upon a Dog (Жил-был пёс)
- 1983 The Travels of an Ant (Путеше́ствие муравья́)
- 1983 Cheburashka Goes to School (Чебура́шка идёт в шко́лу)
- 1984 Winter in Buttermilk Village (Зима́ в Простоква́шино)
- 1984 The Tale of Tsar Saltan (Ска́зка о царе́ Салта́не)
- 1985 Two Tickets to India (Два билета в Индию)
- 1987 Laughter and Grief by the White Sea (Смех и го́ре у Бе́ла мо́ря)
- 1988 Mountain Pass (Перева́л)
- History of Russian animation
- Dovzhenko Film Studios
- Melnitsa Animation Studio
- Encyclopedia of Domestic Animation – covering all Soviet and Russian animation
- ""Нянане Лмемхе": Ясдэаю Нревеярбеммни Юмхлюжхх | Пюдхн Пняяхх". Radiorus.ru. 2006-07-14. Retrieved 2012-01-14.
- "Бойнбфпт.Тх | Опчпуфй | Пмез Чйдпч Ипюеф Четохфш "Ъпмпфха Лпммелгйа" Об Тпдйох". Animator.ru. Retrieved 2012-01-14.
- Radio interview with Akop Kirakosyan (partially transcribed), 13-04-2007. (Russian)
- "Russian animation in letters and figures | Studies | SOYUZMULTFILM". Animator.ru. Retrieved 2012-01-14.
- Bossart, Alla. 3D-сосиска. Novaya Gazeta. 22-03-2010.
- "Йскэрспю: Феярнйхе Ашкх "Тюапхйх Яйюгнй"". Utro.ru. Retrieved 2012-01-14.
- "бОЙНБФПТ.ТХ | уФБФШЙ | зЕПТЗЙК вПТПДЙО "ртпэбк, "упаънхмшфжймшн"!"". Animator.ru. Retrieved 2012-01-14.
- McNary, David (31 May 1997). "From Russia With Love: Studio City Company to Release Stockpile of Animated Movies". Daily News of Los Angeles.
- "ВЕДОМОСТИ – Чебурашка лучше Фаберже – Алишер Усманов поможет ушастому зверю вернуться в Россию". Vedomosti.ru. Retrieved 2012-01-14.
- "Statement of FILMS BY JOVE INC". Judiciary.house.gov. 2003-03-13. Retrieved 2012-01-14.
- "А.Усманов вернул советские мультфильмы в Россию :: Экономика". Top.rbc.ru. Retrieved 2012-01-14.
- "Oldest Film Studio to Transform". The Moscow Times (5176). 25 July 2013. Retrieved 18 August 2013.
- Official website (Russian)
- Official Youtube channel (Russian)
- List of all Soyuzmultfilm films.
- Soyuzmultfilm Film Fund
- Soyuzmultfilm on Animator.ru
- Soyuzmultfilm at the Internet Movie Database
- Soyuzmultfilm cartoons of the 1940s and the 1950s with Esperanto subtitles
- Satellite picture by Google Maps
- The Cartoon Database's entry on Soyuzmultfilm
- International distributor of Soyuzmultfilm's titles
- In-depth history of the appalling and criminal happenings at Soyuzmultfilm during the 1990s (Russian)
- May, 2006 Interview with Soyuzmultfilm director (Russian)
- condensed history of Soyuzmultfilm in the 1990s (Russian)