Controversial film about Russian czar cleared for release

Russia's Culture Ministry says that a controversial historical film about the last Russian czar's affair with a ballerina has been cleared for release.

"Matilda," which is about Nicholas II's relationship with Matilda Kshesinskaya, has drawn virulent criticism from some Orthodox believers and hard-line nationalists, who see it as blasphemy against the emperor, glorified as a saint by the Russian Orthodox Church.

Critics have pushed for banning the film, which is set to be released on the centennial of the 1917 Bolshevik revolution. Ramzan Kadyrov, the Kremlin-backed regional leader of Chechnya, has recently joined the movie's opponents.

Director Alexei Uchitel has rejected the accusations and prominent Russian filmmakers have come to his defense.

On Thursday, the Russian Culture Ministry announced that the film has received official clearance.