Thursday, 19 November 2015

Stanislav Govorukhin: The End of a beautiful epoch - Конец прекрасной эпохи (2015)

The end of a great era (2015)

Director: Stanislav Govorukhin
Writers: Sergei Dovlatov (story), Stanislav Govorukhin (screenplay)
Stars: Ivan Kolesnikov, Svetlana Khodchenkova, Fyodor Dobronravov

The end of a great era (2015)

With the term “beautiful epoch”, the author means those ten eventful years following the death of the Leader. The word “beautiful” is meant ironically, because this decade, of course, saw both good and bad things. Nevertheless, what a time it was! How many hopes there were!.. What a sense of an approaching festivity!... How many events! Remember!.. The Twentieth Party Congress... The first satellite!.. Man in space!.. With Pushkin’s words: “How the Russian heart throbbed at the word ‘Fatherland’.” And the miracle of art! Wherever you look, suddenly... and the tremendous literature!.. A brilliant galaxy of poets!.. New theatres... The great cinema!...

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Pyotr Chardynin: Mirages - Миражи (1915)

Director: Pyotr Chardynin
Writers: Lidiya Charskaya, Ekaterina Tissova
Stars: Arseniy Bibikov, Tamara Gedevanova, Andrej Gromov,Vera Kholodnaya

Black and white, silent, fiction


Monday, 2 November 2015

Sergey Bondarchuk: They Fought for Their Country - Они сражались за Родину (1975)

They Fought for Their Country (1975)

Director: Sergey Bondarchuk
Writers: Sergey Bondarchuk, Mikhail Sholokhov (novel)
Stars: Vasiliy Shukshin, Vyacheslav Tikhonov, Sergey Bondarchuk

Awards :
Nominated, Cannes Film Festival, 1975
Special Prize, International Film Festival, Karlovy Vary,1976
National Prize of Russia, 1977
Prize Brothers Vasilyev for Vadim Yusov (cinematography), 1977

They Fought for Their Country (1975)

It is July 1942, the army is retreating and a small group of exhausted soldiers, the last of their regiment, are defending a plot of land. Tank tracks and wilted grass are all a part of the surrounding scenery, making the struggle even more depressing for the soldiers. From Oscar winning director Sergei Bondarchuk (War and Peace) this is a powerful Biblical tale, portraying an absurd clash between the earth and the inhuman war machine, a metaphor of confrontation, eternal life and evil forces.

Ella Manzheeva: The Gulls - Чайки (2015)

Seagulls (2015)

Director: Ella Manzheeva
Cast: Evgeniy Sangadzhiev

 Awards : Best first film Open Russian Film Festival Kinotavr, Sochi (Russia), 2015

Seagulls (2015)

The Gulls tells the story of Elza, who lives in a small town in the Republic of Kalmykia on the Caspian Sea. Another year comes to an end, it’s cold and the steppe is covered in a thin layer of snow. When her husband, who makes a living from illegal fishing, asks her one night what she did during the day, she lies. She wasn’t at her mother’s, but at the bus stop. She thought of leaving – to find out what it might be to escape the infinite expanse of her dreary small world. But she didn’t dare; instead she stays and withdraws into herself, unconcerned by who might see. One day, her husband doesn’t return from a dangerous boat trip. It is said that a fisherman only returns if he has a woman waiting for him and that seagulls are the souls of the missing.

Olga Narutskaya: Tamara Alexandrovna's husband and daughter - Муж и дочь Тамары Александровны (1988)

Director: Olga Narutskaya
Writer: Nadezhda Kozhushanaya
Stars: Aleksandr Galibin, Anna Bazhenova, Valentina Malyavina

Alexander Galibin

Teenaged Katia (Anna Bazhenova) has been living in Moscow with her divorced mother Tamara, but when her mother has to go to the hospital for an operation, she briefly moves in with her boyish father Valeri (Aleksandr Galibin), whom she hasn't gotten to know very well before this. At first he is delighted to have a new playmate, and their reunion is delightful. It looks as though she might stay with him for a good while. However, he soon finds the responsibility of having another person in his life too wearing, and asks her to move back in with her mother. Meanwhile, Katia has been exploring her feelings for the opposite sex, but she has chosen the wrong boys and is nearly raped. She flees, but the frustrated boys seek out and savagely beat her father.

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Elena Hazanov: Puppet syndrome - Синдром Петрушки (2015)

Parsley Syndrome (2015)

Director: Elena Hazanov
Writers: Alena Alova, Dina Rubina 
Stars: Kirill Frolov, Chulpan Khamatova, Aleksey Lyubimov

Best music Mikael TARIVERDIEV , Open Russian Film Festival Kinotavr, Sochi (Russia), 2015

Parsley Syndrome (2015)

Since his childhood Petya has been fascinated by the puppet theatre, but even more so by a living girl: Liza. Petya creates Liza, like Pygmalion made Galatea: he becomes her father, friend, and husband... Only if Pygmalion met the challenge of bringing a stone to life, Petya faces another problem: Liza is already very much alive. She never completely obeys him and never fully belongs to him... “Puppet Syndrome” is a story of the all-consuming love of a creator for his creation.

Read: Kinotavr 2015. Fourteen Shades of Gray

Saturday, 31 October 2015

Aleksei Fedorchenko: Angels of the Revolution - Ангелы революции (2014)

Angels Revolution (2014)

Director: Aleksei Fedorchenko
Cast: Dar’ia Ekamasova, Pavel Basov, Georgii Iobadze, Konstantin Balakirev, Oleg Iagodin, Aleksei Solonchev

Awards :

Prize Cine-Club Federation of Russia Moscow International Film Festival (MIFF), Moscow (Russia), 2015
Best directing Open Russian Film Festival Kinotavr, Sochi (Russia), 2015
Guilde of Russian Director Prize Open Russian Film Festival Kinotavr, Sochi (Russia), 2015

Darya Darya Ekamasova

In 1934, Red Army soldiers and NKVD agents bloodily suppressed an uprising in Kazym, a town of Khanty and Nentsy in a newly established autonomous region of Western Siberia. It was the culmination of a series of actions by the state against local native populations who had protested the imposition of recent collectivization measures. The event, for decades unwelcome in the Soviet historical narrative of course, finally found its dramatic commemoration in Oleg Fesenko’s Red Ice. The Saga of the Khanty of Iugra (Krasnyi led. Saga o khantakh Iugry, 2009), an adaptation of Eremei Aipin’s story The Virgin Mary in Bloody Snows (Bozh’ia Mater’ v krovavykh snegakh, 2002). Fesenko offers an engaging, if quite traditional, treatment of the historical event as a clash of civilizations, replete with a doomed love affair between a Khanty girl and a Soviet political “missionary.” The didactically transparent message is relayed by the director’s sudden cut from rich and colorful scenes of local rites and rituals in a Khanty village to the brute arrival on screen of a “steel monster,” an agit-train, signaling a shift in the state’s approach to a more intrusive and unforgiving encounter with the locals. The civilization of the “noble savages” inexorably draws the recent parvenus into friendly relations, and the latter end up defending them against the Red Army and NKVD that were sent from Ekaterinburg to crush the rebellion. The spiritually rich Khanty culture is contrasted with the weak (in some scenes, physically weaker) Soviet culture, which is only able to prevail by using the overwhelming brutalities available in the modern age. The Soviet response is incommensurate with the actual Khanty threat, the film tells us, as an airplane is sent to bomb the Khanty rebel outpost back to the (ice)-age. In an especially heavy-handed metaphor, the airplane strafes innocent wolf-cubs trailing their mother in the snow.

Angels Revolution (2014)

Like Fesenko’s film, Aleksei Fedorchenko’s Angels of the Revolution draws inspiration from the Kazym rebellion, but easy comparison and pat moralizing stop there. Fedorchenko had initially intended to adapt for screen Denis Osokin’s enigmatic cycle of tales Angels and Revolution (Angely i revoliutsiia. Viatka 1923, 2001), but was dissatisfied with his initial screenplay attempt, entitled Notes of a Chekist (Zapiski chekista). He finally decided to combine the two works in a film about the Kazym rebellion “in which individuals will speak in the magical language of Denis’ heroes” (Kichin 2015). With his earlier First on the Moon (Pervye na lune, 2005), Fedorchenko sought to reclaim some of the utopian spirit of the imaginative avant-garde projects of the 1920s (Prokhorov 2006). In Angels of the Revolution, he returns to this theme explicitly, creating a realm of often ineffably surreal and magical moments that seek to capture the essence of the two civilizations that exist alongside each other for this short period in the early 1930s. The Khanty myth of the cat goddess and the fantastic tales that inform their beliefs are set alongside the Bolshevik fairytales the avant-gardists tell themselves. These scenes often have a Wes Anderson-esque visual and acoustic whimsy about them, and create images that linger in the mind’s eye well after the scene: dogs in angel wings suspended above a red dirigible or floating Bolsheviks watched by white-winged angels.

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