Saturday, 13 December 2008

Vardan Hakobyan: Platon - Платон (2008)

Director: Vardan Hakobyan
Writer: Vardan Hakobyan (screenplay)
Stars: Pavel Volya, Yelizaveta Lotova,Evelina Bledans

In various vibrant situations in Moscow Platon feels like a fish in the water. He is successful, handsome. He knows Moscow well, and Moscow knows him. Platon makes big money working on people’s instincts. Connections, women, money: he has everything. And everything is wonderful until he meets love ...

Friday, 28 November 2008

Bulgakov’s Morphia from Aleksei Balabanov

Aleksei Balabanov’s twelfth picture Morphia based on Mikhail Bulgakov’s autobiographical “Notes of a Young Doctor” goes on general release in Russia today.

The script had been written by the famous actor and director Sergei Bodrov Jr., who tragically died in an accident in the Caucasus Mountains due to a glacier slide in 2002.

“I took up this scenario because it had been written by my friend Serezha Bodrov. We had discussed various projects with him and wanted to do a lot together, but unfortunately we had not had enough time. I decided to continue what he did not have a chance to finish” - the film director said to journalists.

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Oleg Pogodin: Man of East aka Invincible - Непобедимый (2008)

Invincible (2008)

Director: Oleg Pogodin
Writer: Oleg Pogodin
Stars: Vladimir Epifantsev, Sergei Astakhov, Harry Borg

Invincible (2008)

Yegor Kremnyov is a Russian special intelligence agent. During his last mission, which was supposed to be simple and safe, all of his accomplices were killed. But the guy that they were to have captured turned out to be the secretary of the fugitive oligarch Sorkin – Mikhail Shering, who has been on the wanted list for a long time. According to rumors, Shering has secret papers that are of interest not only to Russian intelligence, but also to the powerful West crime syndicate. Now Kremnyov is faced with the difficult task of bringing Shering home. He is surrounded by treachery, conspiracy, ambushes and traps, but nevertheless Yegor plans to deliver Shering on his own. But Kremnyovrcos main trap is the very cargo he is to deliver – Shering. It is not so easy for Kremnyov to avoid the influence of his fellow traveler. This deathly dangerous journey will change them both – both the fugitive Shering and the invincible Kremnyov.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Latest Russian blockbuster fits Kremlin script

Russia's latest blockbuster film hopes to woo big foreign audiences with an epic tale of doomed love set amid the chaos of the Russian Civil War; its politics conveniently chime with a Kremlin-sponsored mood of patriotism.

'Admiral,' which has its world premiere on Monday evening, glorifies Alexander Kolchak, a former naval hero who led White Russian forces into battle against the Bolsheviks in Siberia and briefly became Supreme Governor of Russia before meeting an untimely end at the hands of a communist firing squad.

Despised in Soviet times as a Tsarist enemy of the people, Kolchak is back in fashion as the Kremlin tries to reconnect today's resurgent Russia with its glorious imperial past and bury the 74 years of communism which came in between.

"It's very important we talk about our history, our country, our officers," director Andrei Kravchuk said in an interview.

"If we understand that we had such a history, such people... we can fill ourselves with dignity, and the notion of motherland and patriotism, which can seem worn and tarnished, gains new, concrete, visible meaning."

The film's backers hope that the epic, which opens across Russia this Thursday in a record 1,250 prints, will secure the same success at home and abroad as an earlier hit by the same producers, the 2004 fantasy horror film "Night Watch."

Boasting a $20 million budget -- huge by Russian standards -- "Admiral" portrays Kolchak as a fearless naval commander, loving father, dashing lover and principled leader of the doomed White Russians as they make a final stand in the winter snow.

Official site here.
Trailers here.

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Lev Atamanov: The Snow Queen - Снежная королева - (1957)

Director-producer Lev Atamanov

The Snow Queen (Russian: Снежная королева, Snezhnaya koroleva) is a 1957 Soviet traditionally-animated feature film. It was produced at the Soyuzmultfilm studio in Moscow and is based on the story of the same name by Hans Christian Andersen. The film was re-released with English soundtracks in 1959 and 1998.

1957—Venice Film Festival: Golden Lion in the animated film category
1958—Cannes Film Festival: First prize in the animated film category
1958—Rome: First prize
1958—Moscow Film Festival: Special prize
1959—London (Festival of festivals): Prize for best film of year

Atamanov was one of the founders of Soviet animation art. First he directed animation agitation posters and films. Afterwards he shifted to making children’s films after Russian, Armenian, Chinese, Indian and Danish fairy tales. He was the first director of Armenian animation cinematography. From 1936 he worked at Erevan Film Studio, where he directed the first Armenian sound animation, The Dog and the Cat (Shunn u Katun) after Tumanian’s fable, in 1938, and The Magic Carpet (Kakhardakan gorg) in 1948.

He worked at the “Soyuzmultfilm” studio and directed there a number of fairy films, such as The Yellow Stork (Zheltyy aist) (1950, after a Chinese folk tale, Prize of the International Film Festival in Deli), Scarlet Flower (Alenkiy tsvetochek) (1952, after a Russian fairy tale), and The Golden Antelope (1954, after Indian tales, special prize of the 8th International Film Festival in Cannes in 1955, prizes of the International Film Festival in Belgrade in 1956).

His full-length animation The Snow Queen (Snezhnaya koroleva) (1957, after Andersen’s tale) took the First Prize among children’s films at the International Film Festival in Venice in 1957, was awarded with a special prize at the First All-Union Festival in Moscow and acknowledged as the best film of the year at the IFF in London in 1959.

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Aleksandr Alov and Vladimir Naumov: Flight - Бег (1970)

Running (1970)

Directors:Aleksandr Alov and Vladimir Naumov
Starring: Lyudmila Savelyeva, Aleksey Batalov, Mikhail Ulyanov.
Film was entered into the 1971 Cannes Film Festival.

Film is based on the eponymous play by Mikhail Bulgakov, about defeat of the "White Army" in the Russian Civil War of 1918-21, that caused massive emigration of the upper classes and nobility, called "White Russians".

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Igor Voloshin: Nirvana - Нирвана (2007)

Director: Igor Voloshin
Script: Olga Larionova
Camera: Dmitrii Iashonkov
Design: Pavel Parkhomenko
Costume design: Nadezhda Vasileva
Make-Up and Hair Design: Anna Esmont
Original Music: Aleksandr Kopeikin
Cast: Olga Sutulova, Mariia Shalaeva, Artur Smolianinov, Mikhail Evlanov, Tatiana Samoilova
Producer: Sergei Selianov
Production: CTB Film Company

Reviewed in KinoKultura by Elena Prokhorova© 2008

Igor' Voloshin's debut feature film Nirvana opened in July 2008 to less than half full screening halls, a fact at least partially explained by its doomed competition with Hollywood summer blockbusters, which included Timur Bekmambetov's American debut, Wanted (2008). Nirvana's pre-release performance in festival circuits, however, marks it as a film worthy of notice. The film received a prize at the Kinotavr film festival in the category “Best Debut” and was screened both at the Berlin and Moscow International Film Festivals.
Artsy (or at least “culty”) in style and targeting primarily young audiences, Nirvana follows the nurse Alisa (Ol'ga Sutulova), who leaves Moscow for St. Petersburg in search of a different life. She rents a room in a dilapidated but once grand apartment, next to a couple of “quiet” teenage junkies. Her affair with her neighbor, nicknamed “Dead Man” (Artur Smol'ianinov), leads to violent confrontations with his miniature lover Vel (Mariia Shalaeva), a heavy-duty heroin addict. The girls' mutual hostility, however, transforms into a strong bond, especially when the two have to raise money to rescue Dead Man from his creditor. Having lost Vel, who dies of an overdose after Dead Man betrays her, Alisa “re-unites” with her friend in a heroin-induced Nirvana, and then leaves St. Petersburg. ...
"Nirvana" (2008)

Essentially a conventional story about drug addiction and the redemptive power of female friendship, Russian drama "Nirvana" compels attention for its outrageously over-the-top costumes and makeup, courtesy of Nadezhda Vasiliyeva and Anna Essmont, respectively. Although supposedly contempo-set, helmer Igor Voloshin's debut feature looks at first like some lost 1990s-made cyberpunk effort styled by the late Australian performance artist-cum-designer Leigh Bowery, which is sort of a good thing. Pic takes itself a little too seriously for outright critical acclaim, but it may find a semi-blissful afterlife on the fest circuit and as a cult title on ancillary.

Awards :

Best first film Open Russian Film Festival Kinotavr, Russia, 2008
Best Set Decoration Pavel PARKHOMENKO , Annual award of the Guild of Historians of Cinema and Film Critics, Russia, 2008

Friday, 5 September 2008

The Other Caucasus War - "Captive" (Plenny)

Alexei Uchitel returns to the subject of the Chechen wars with a sensitive look at two Russian soldiers and their Chechen captive.

It's been at least a decade -- from the 1996 release of Sergei Bodrov's "Prisoner of the Caucasus" -- since Russian filmmakers tackled the Chechen conflicts with any degree of sensitivity. True, in between there have been any number of overtly patriotic and nationalistic action films, which used the locations for their own purposes, without really examining the emotional impacts of the war.

So it's welcome to see one of the best directors of the last 20 years, Alexei Uchitel, tackling the subject -- not as a war film, but as a human drama. His new film, "Captive" (Plenny), has been rewarded with international festival acclaim. Like Bodrov's "Prisoner," it succeeds by virtue of its elliptical, understated take on the conflict itself, and by centering on three characters -- two Russian soldiers and their Chechen captive -- and how their interaction develops.

The opening sees a Russian army convoy attacked and pinned down in the mountains of Chechnya. Only two soldiers, sniper Rubakha (Vyacheslav Grekunov) and his friend Vovka (Pyotr Logachev), escape and return to their base. Along the way they capture a Chechen rebel, Djamal (played by the Georgian actor Irakly Mtskhalaya).

The script, by Timofei Dekin and acclaimed Russian novelist Vladimir Makanin (based on the latter's short story), doesn't spare any punches -- the commanding officers are corrupt, selling arms to their local opponents. To prevent Djamal's exchange as a hostage and to lead the two Russians to try to rescue their comrades, Rubakha and Vovka take the Chechen across the mountains on a route march. Their communication is slow and intermittent, but contacts develop, which are put under serious stress in the film's denouement. They need him along the way as much as he hopes for their protection, because to shoot him would be only too easy.
The Moscow Times

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Yuri Chulyukin:The Girls - Девчата (1961)

Director: Yuri Chulyukin
Cast: Nadezhda Rumyantseva, Nikolai Rybnikov, Lyusiena Ovchinnikova, Stanislav Khitrov, Inna Makarova, Nina Menshikova

Devchata is a romantic comedy set in an isolated Russian logging camp, c. the late 1950s. A pig-tailed young girl - Tosya (Nadezhda Rumiantseva)- arrives from school with a cooking degree, and joins a group of other women who work in jobs supporting the loggers. Tosya's naivete is reflected in the first exchange we see, where the official who shows her to her quarters seems exasperated when he finds that she has not brought a pillow. Tosya is assigned as a cook for the camp. Once in her dorm-like room, she cheerfully prepares herself a meal of tea and a giant loaf of bread slathered with jam; all of it from her roommates' food stockpile. When the four other girls return after a day at work, they are generally taken by Tosya's youth and good nature. However, one woman is upset that she is eating her food without permission, and a fight ensues. It is in this scene that we first see another characteristic of Tosya: her fierceness. When the dorm-mate makes some rude comments, Tosya throws a boot at her head without hesitation. This trait is also exhibited a short time later, when Tosya enters the dance hall (the girls call it the "club"). At first, no one will dance with her (probably because she is so short), but eventually she begins to dance with another very tall girl who is also passed up by several young men. ...


Monday, 7 July 2008

Famous Russian movie actress Nona Mordyukova dies at 83

The famous Russian movie actress Nona Mordyukova died at the age of 83 late on Sunday. Mordyukova, the People's Artist of the USSR, died in hospital. She had suffered from many illnesses, the worst of which was diabetes, Mordyukova's sister Natalya told Itar-Tass.

Nona Mordyukova was born in the village of Konstantinovskaya of the Donetsk region in Ukraine. In 1950 she graduated from the State Institute of Cinema and began working in a theatrical studio. In 1949 she had received the State Award of the USSR for her role of Ulyana Gromova in a film titled "The Young Guard" based on a novel of the same name by Soviet writer Alexander Fadeyev. In 1973 Mordyukova won the State Award of the Vasilyev brothers for her roles in films "Zhuravushka" and "The Collective Farm Director".

Her most outstanding roles were in films "Yekaterina Voronina", "The Volunteers", "Balzaminov's Marriage", "The Kinsfolk", "Mother", etc.

The editorial board of the British encyclopedia "Who is Who?" has included Mordyukova in the list of most outstanding actresses of the 20th century.

Thursday, 22 May 2008

Where Will Be Twilight Watch Shot?


Well-known film director Timur Bekmambetov is getting ready to film the third Watch, another sequel of the blockbuster Night Watch.

The film to be titled Twilight Watch or Dusk Watch is already in preproduction, Fox International Productions reports.

It remains unknown yet, where the story will be set, what the plotline will be and whether Morgan Freeman will play the head of American Watch in the would-be blockbuster. It was informed earlier that the film might probably feature Brad Pitt.

In addition to that, the author of the Watches Sergei Lukyanenko pointed out that the film may as well be shot in Russia.

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Alexey Uchitel - Rock (1988) documentary feature film

From: Arclog66

Кино / Kino - Спокойная ночь / Good Night

Footage has been taken from famous documentary about russian underground music during Perestroyka - "Rock" by Alexey Uchitel.

A diploma from the forum of the International film festival in Berlin. Shown at the Sundance Festival (U.S.A.).

The band was formed in the summer of 1981 in Leningrad, USSR (now St. Petersburg, Russia) as punk rock band Garin i giperboloidy (after Aleksei Nikolaevich Tolstoi's novel Giperboloid inzhenera Garina, published in English as Engineer Garin and His Death Ray) by Tsoi, Aleksei Rybin and Oleg Valinskiy. A year later the name of the band was changed to Kino (Russian for "cinema"). Since rock music was considered "anti-Soviet", Kino, like the other rock bands, performed only in semi-underground clubs and at musicians' apartments (kvartirniks).
In the summer of 1982, Kino's first album 45 (named for its length in minutes) was recorded as a collaboration with the the band Aquarium. The album was slowly distributed through underground channels and gave a new fame to the group.
The band's first real hit was the album Noch ("night") released in 1986; the six songs from the album were included in the Red Wave: 4 Underground Bands from the USSR compilation disc released in the U.S. in 1986.
Due to the beginning of the Perestroika era, the band emerged from the underground, and the 1988 album Gruppa krovi (Blood Type) together with the movie Igla (The Needle), which starred Tsoi, brought the band to the pinnacle of popularity.
During the next two years the band released another album and did shows in the USSR and abroad, attracting enormous audiences, until August 15, 1990, when Tsoi died tragically in a car accident near Riga. The tape with the vocal track for the new album survived the accident. The album was completed by the rest of the band and released in 1990 without a title, though it is always cited as Chornyy Albom (The Black Album) since it has a wholly black cover.
The band's popularity in the Soviet Union was so extraordinarily high that after Tsoi's death, the words "Цой жив!" ("Tsoi lives!") and "КИНО" appeared on various public surfaces throughout the country. Writing these words became a kind of a memorial ritual among fans of the band. Even today the slogan occasionally surfaces in urban graffiti.
All Kino songs were written by Viktor Tsoi. His lyrics are characterized by a poetic simplicity. The ideas of liberty and democracy were present (one song was named "Anarchy") but, on the whole, the band's message to the public was not overly politically charged. Their songs largely focused on life, death and love. Daily life is embedded in Kino's vocabulary (for instance, there is a song about the elektrichka, a commuter train many suburbanites use daily).

Monday, 5 May 2008

Grigori Kozintsev - Hamlet - Гамлет (1963)

Hamlet (1964)

Innokenty Smoktunovsky, Mikhail Nazvanov, Elsa Radzinya, Yuri Tolubeyev, Anastasia Vertinskaya, Vadim Medvedev, Vladimir Erenberg, Stepan Oleksenko, Igor Dmitriev, Grigory Gai, Reino Aren

Special Prize at the Venice IFF, 1964
Special Jury Prize at the San Sebastian IFF, 1965
Prize at the San Francisco IFF, 1966
Prize of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA), 1966

Monday, 21 April 2008

Faina Ranevskaya in Cinderella - Золушка (1947)

Director: Hope Kosheverova, Michael Shapiro
Actors: Janina Jeimo, Alexei Konsovsky, Erast Garin, Vasiliy Merkur'ev, Faina Ranevskaya, Helen Junger, Barbara Myasnikov, Klimenkov Igor, Sergei Filippov, Rumnev etc.

Faina Ranevskaya
August 27, 1896 – July 19, 1984

If you ask in any street of any Russian town who Ranevskaya was, in 99 per cent of cases you’ll hear, “She was a legendary actress, of course!”, and only a tiny 1 per cent will remember that’s also the name of a Chekhov character. Her talent, charm, wit, sharp tongue and – for the time – unbelievable straightforwardness earned her the absolute love and adoration of the public. She never played a single leading role in a play or a movie, but she was so brilliant even in her cameo appearances that generation after generation remember Faina, while the faces of those in the leading roles faded from people’s memories decades ago. ...

Friday, 11 April 2008

Vladimir Menshov's Oscar-Winning film “Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears” to be Continued

Film director Vladimir Menshov is thinking about a new film project, namely the sequel of his much-spoken-of and Oscar-winning lyrical comedy Moskva slezam ne verit (aka Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears) (1980).
As the director says, there is some entrepreneur who is willing to finance the film under the title "Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears - 2". Mr. Menshov has already given his tentative agreement.
“I am pleased that the picture is so popular that it is even becoming a legend - Vladimir Menshov said - It is nice that people are waiting for it to be continued”.
Москва слезам не верит went on general release in 1979 and still remains a cult movie. After all, the potential viewers are bound to be attracted to the same-name would-be sequel.

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Cult Actress Nadezhda Rumyantseva Passes Away

People’s Artist of Russia Nadezhda Rumyantseva has died, aged 78, in Moscow. Her wonderful charm, humour and inimitable sincerity had created favourite characters for many admirers of Russian cinema.

Nadezhda Vassilyevna Rumyantseva was born on September 9, 1930, in Potapovo Settlement of Smolensk Region. After school she entered Lunacharsky State Theatre Arts Institute and then the All-Union State Cinema Institute. The small height of the actress at once determined her type as a travesty.

From 1948 to 1950 Rumyantseva played onstage of the Central Children’s Theatre. In that period she also filmed in Navstrechu zhizni (The Encounter of a Lifetime) (1952) and Alyosha Ptitsyn vyrabatyvaet kharakter (Alesha Ptitsyn Cultivates His Character) (1953). In 1955 Nadezhda Rumyantseva got engaged in Theatre Studio of Film Actor.

The image of Tosya in the famous lyrical comedy Devchata (The Girls) (1961) by director Yuri Chulyukin became the hallmark of the actress. No less successful was the film Koroleva benzokolonki (Queen of a Petrol Station) (1963).

Along with cinema she also succeeded as a TV host of children’s programmes. Characters of numerous popular animations speak with the voice of Nadezhda Rumyantseva.


Saturday, 5 April 2008

Analysis Of The Movie Gloss


A Mosfilm, Andrei Konchalovsky Production Center (Russia)/Studio Canal, Cadran Prod. (France)/Motion Investment Group (Belgium) production, in association with Backup Films. (International sales: Fortissimo Films, Hong Kong.) Produced by Jeremy Burdek, Nadia Khamlichi, Adrian Politowski. Directed by Andrei Konchalovsky. Screenplay, Konchalovsky, Dunya Smirnova.

With: Yuliya Vysotskaya, Ilya Isaev, Irina Rozanova, Olga Arntgolts, Yefim Shifrin, Andrei Noskov, Aleksandr Domogarov, Ela Sanko, Yuris Lautsinsh.
(Russian, English dialogue)

Nothing succeeds like excess in "Gloss," a pointed, if overlong, contempo fairy tale by 70-year-old Russian vet Andrei Konchalovksy about the victory of style over substance. Pic entertainingly charts the rise and rise of a plucky seamstress from provincial Russia through the labyrinthine and equally flashy worlds of fashion, politics and crime. Helmer's name no longer has the cachet it radiated back in the '80s, but still has enough to attract fest allure. International commercial prospects would be increased by a 15-minute trim.
In the town of Rostov, ambitious seamstress Galya (Yuliya Vysotskaya) works in a clothing factory. As the story begins, her photo has just appeared in a local newspaper's sexy advertisement. Dreaming of becoming a supermodel and living a fantasy life of tropical islands and lingerie, Galya taps her thuggish b.f., Vitya (Ilya Isaev), for train fare and heads to Moscow.

There, Galya marches into the offices of Top Beauty magazine, run by an editor (Irina Rozanova) who makes Meryl Streep's character in "The Devil Wears Prada" look like Shirley Temple. While admiring Galya's chutzpah and her gifts of lobsters and handicrafts, the editor gives a withering appraisal of the wannabe's chances before ignoring her....

Friday, 4 April 2008

Nikita Mikhalkov: Oblomov (Several Days in the Life of I. I. Oblomov) - Несколько дней из жизни И. И. Обломова (1979)

Director: Nikita Mikhalkov
Script: Alexander Adabashian, Nikita Mikhalkov
Camera: Pavel Lebeshev
Music by: Eduard Artemyev
Cast: Oleg Tabakov, Yuri Bogatyryov, Andrei Popov, Yelena Solovey, Avangard Leontiev, Andrei Razumovsky, Oleg Kozlov, Yelena Kleshchevskaya, Galina Shostko, Gleb Strizhenov, Yevgheny Steblov, Yevghenia Glushenko, Nikolai Pastukhov, Fedya Stukov, Anatoly Romashin

Oxford’s Golden Shield for Best Directing (Nikita Mikhalkov) at the Oxford IFF, 1980
Oxford’s Silver Shield for Best Actor (Oleg Tabakov) at the Oxford IFF, 1980
Oxford’s Silver Shield for Best Actress (Yelena Solovey) at the Oxford IFF, 1980
Oxford’s Silver Shield for Best Photography (Pavel Lebeshev) at the Oxford IFF, 1980
First Prize at the International Week of Authors Films in Benalmaden, 1982
Best Foreign Film of 1981, by the decision of U. S. National Council of Film Critics, 1981

The Russian film version of Ivan Goncharov's 1859 novel, ''Oblomov,'' begins and ends with the sight of a child running rapturously in search of his mother, even though the book's bestknown image is that of a grown man who won't get out of bed. The shift is most appropriate, because Nikita Mikhalkov's film places its chief emphasis on the innocently dreamlike aspects of the story.

Sections of Goncharov's novel can be read as social satire - the title character is a wealthy landowner, and his laziness is legend. And yet it is the book's rambling fantasy passages that sound its most eloquent note, as the sweet, sluggish Oblomov imagines the possibilities life might hold for him if ever he could shake off his torpor. While Goncharov left no doubt about the essential goodheartedness of this becalmed character, Mr. Mikhalkov makes the point even more strongly. His Oblomov is as gentle and guileless as a child. ...

Roman Prygunov: Indigo - Индиго (2008)

Indigo (2008)

Director: Roman Prygunov
Cast: Ivan Yankovsky, Mikhail Efremov, Maria Shukshina, Artem Tkachenko, Elena Drobysheva, Gosha Kutsenko, Anastasia Ricci, Roman Shmakov, Pavel Sliva, Marius Standel, Pavel Yasenok, Petr Skvortsov, Ivan Mudrov

Indigo is an adventure thriller about ordinary, urban teenagers. But they also are Indigo - people of the future. They feel danger, understand language of animals, read thoughts, and remember their previous reincarnations. But suddenly these children begin to vanish mysteriously, one by one. Their ominous enemies have their own plans for the future. Indigo should fight for their freedom.

Official site here.

Saturday, 22 March 2008

Nika for the best film - Mongol (2007)

By Kirill Galetski
"Mongol," Sergei Bodrov's Genghis Khan biopic, which was nominated for a best foreign language film Oscar but lost out to the Austrian film, "The Counterfeiters," has won six Nika Awards, the Russian equivalent of the Oscars.

The win included film, director (Bodrov), cinematography (Sergei Trofimov and Rogier Stoffers), sound design (Stephan Konken, Bruno Tarri?re, Maxim Belovolov), art direction (Dashi Namdakov and Yelena Zhukova) and costumes (Karin Lohr).

The Best Film prize was awarded by Mikhail Shvydkoy, head of the Russian Federal Agency for Culture and Cinematography, who remarked, "Finally we have lived long enough to see that the state is no longer in debt to cinema. More films are being shot than there are festivals and prizes. Nevertheless, I hope that [Russian] cinema will remain an art and a mission, and will not be exclusively aimed at commercial success."

The other titles nominated for best film were Alexei Balabanov's "Cargo 200," Alexei Popogrebsky?s "Simple Things," Vera Storozheva?s "Traveling with Pets" and Anna Melikian?s "The Mermaid."

"The Mermaid," did garner a win for best actress for Masha Shalyayeva, who had previously won best actress at the Kinotavr Festival, Russia?s key forum for domestic films. "Simple Things" won best screenplay for Popogrebsky?s script. The best actor award went to prolific middle-aged thesp Sergei Garmash for his work in Nikita Mikhalkov?s "12."

Established by the Soviet Cinematographers Union in 1987, the Nikas are the oldest film industry awards in Russia and the former Soviet Union. They take their name from Nike, the goddess of victory and the statuette is modeled after the sculpture of the Winged Victory of Samothrace. In 1990, a special Nika Academy was established to vote on the awards.

Mongol, directed by Sergei Bodrov, (Российское кино )!

From: loveasianfilm
Mongol (2007) - Trailer #2

Friday, 21 March 2008

Anna Melikyan: Mermaid - Русалка (2007)

Director: Anna Melikyan
Writer: Anna Melikyan (screenplay)
Stars: Mariya Shalaeva, Yevgeni Tsyganov, Mariya Sokova

Azerbaijani director Anna Melkian's second feature opens Berlin' Panorama section with a World Cinema Director's award from Sundance and solid box office at home in Russia under its belt (her first, Mars, was also shown in Panorama at Berlin). A coming-of-age fairytale with dark undertones, Mermaid is delivered in a light, bantering tone - a first-person narrative of the life of Alissa (played by Donstova as a child and Shalaeva from adolescence onwards). With the insouciant approach of a young director who doesn't particularly care whether everything in her film makes sense or follows the rules, Mermaid looks certain for international festival and arthouse acclaim. Hailed at home as the Russian Amelie, Mermaid's heroine is Alissa. the daughter of a portly, bouncy woman (Sokova) and a passing sailor who chanced upon her on a deserted beach, bathing in the nude. The sailor is long gone, and Alissa, aged five at the film's onset, lives with her mother and senile granny. She wants to be a ballerina and dreams of meeting her father but both wishes are denied to her. Some of her desires do come true, however - such as her village home being destroyed in a hurricane which forces her mother to move to Moscow. Whether this, and some other momentuous events in the course of the film, are actually Alissa's doing remains an open question until the very end. Once in Moscow, she carries out a succession of odd jobs (including one which involves roaming the streets in a rubber mobile phone) until one night she fishes a young man called Sasha (Tsyganov) out of the river. He turns out to be an upwardly mobile young businessman, successfully selling lots on the moon to people (only the visible side, he stresses) in the daytime, getting drunk in the evening, and conducting an affair with blonde bombshell Rita (Skrinichenko) in between. Alissa falls in love and works some of her (supposed) magic to save him several times, with mixed results. A lively portrait of the transition from childhood to maturity, Mermaid's bemusing, downbeat ending confused many in the Berlin audience but seems simply to represent the end of this transition - the child disappears, the adolescent is no longer there, adulthood sets in. Melikyan's own script doesn't quite provide the material for an almost-two-hour move and the length is felt by the audience despite sterling work from both Dontsova and Shalaeva (in particular). ...

Awards :
Best actress Mariya SHALAYEVA , "NIKA" Prizes, Russia, 2008 First prize Yerevan International Film Festival, Armenia, 2008 First prize Sofia International Film Festival, Bulgaria, 2008 FIPRESCI Prize, Panorama, Berlin International Film Festival : Berlinale, Germany, 2008 Audience Award Days of Russian cinema in Limoges, France, 2008 Best actress Mariya SHALAYEVA , Open Russian Film Festival Kinotavr, Russia, 2007

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Grigori Kozintsev and Leonid Trauberg: The New Babylon - Новый Вавилон (1929)

Novyi Vavilon
(The New Babylon)
USSR, 1929
Directors: Grigori Kozintsev and Leonid Trauberg
Production: Sovkino Studies, Leningrad; black and white, silent; 6 reels, running time: 111 minutes. Released 1929. Re-screened with original score at London Film Festival, 1982.
Screenplay: Grigori Kozintsev and Leonid Trauberg, from an idea by P. Bliakin; photography: Andrei Moskvin and E. Mikhailov; art director: Yevgeni Enei; music: Dimitry Shostakovitch; historical consultant: A. Molok.
Cast: Elena Kuzmina (Louise Poirier); Piotr Sobolevskii (Jean the Soldier); David Gutman (Grasselin); Sophie Magarill (An Actress); Sergei Gerasimov (Lutro, a journalist); S. Gusev (Old Poirier); Janina Jeimo (Therese, a needlewoman); A. Gluchkova (Washerwoman); Evgeni Cherviakov (Soldier in National Guard); Andrei Kostrichkin (Old shop assistant); Anna Zarazhinskaia (Young girl at barricades); Vsevolod Pudovkin (Shop assistant).

 The New Babylon is a metaphorical clash of glittering surfaces and deep social cynicism that marked the climax of Grigori Kozintsev and Leonid Trauberg's experimentations with the conventions of the Soviet silent cinema. Taking their thematic inspiration from the story of the Paris Commune of 1871, the two directors fashioned a highly conceptualized allegory of social strata under pressure that transcends its historical roots to form a sardonic comment on the human condition.
NEW BABYLON, the last truly silent film directed by the team of Soviet filmmakers Grigori Kozintsev and Leonid Trauberg, had an original musical score written for it by Dimitri Shostakovich. It will be shown with music performed by a live orchestra.
NEW BABYLON is both a historical and a revolutionary epic. It is set during the Paris Commune of 1871. Through a series of incidents, it portrays the clash between the Paris workers and the bourgeoisie. The film’s heroine is Louise. She works as a clerk in a luxury store in Paris – the New Babylon of the film’s title. As Louise becomes politicized, she joins the Communards, and ends up dying for her principles and the cause. The script was co-authored by Kozintsev and Trauberg, who then shot the film in Leningrad and Paris.
Jay Leyda, the great historian of Soviet cinema, wrote that NEW BABYLON provides “a consistently magnificent climax to the silent films of Kozintsev and Trauberg. The performances have just the right mixture of warmth and caricature, and the chiefly studio photography is irreproachable. It is a glittering film in which the glitter plays a calculated dramatic role.”
Despite being considered today the culminating achieement of the Soviet silent film era, NEW BABYLON was received with mixed reviews when it was first released. Some critics thought its expressionistic style was too intellectual. Shostakovich wrote a score that made use of French music popular at the time of the Commune. Some of this harks to the popular operetta-style of Jacques Offenbach, but the score also features a highly original arrangement of La Marseillaise. The music did not go over too well at the film’s premiere. Shostakovich’s orchestration was too sophisticated for the orchestra which performed it. Those who attended the premiere simply thought that the conductor was drunk.
Kozintsev and Trauberg are the under-appreciated geniuses of Soviet cinema. Shortly after they arrived and met in St. Petersburg, the 17-year-old Kozintsev and the 21-year-old Trauberg formed what they named the FEKS Studio – the Factory of the Eccentric Actor. This “factory” was to integrate pantomime, circus and commedia dell’arte into a new revolutionary art form. The films made by the FEKS team included “The Adventures of Oktyabrina” in 1924, “The Devil’s Wheel” in 1926, and the great adaptation of Gogol’s short story, “The Overcoat” in 1926. The films brought to the screen unforgettable character-types which Kozintsev and Trauberg found on the city streets, in what they called “bottom of the city barrel.” This expressionist realism in brilliant casting is evident in NEW BABYLON and continued throughout Kozintsev’s career up to his last film, the greatest Shakespeare adapted for film, KING LEAR. ... more

Friday, 29 February 2008

The Queen of the Gypsies - Табор уходит в небо (1976)

Табор уходит в небо (1976)

Director: Emil Loteanu
Writers: Maxim Gorky (stories), Emil Loteanu
Stars: Grigore Grigoriu, Svetlana Toma, Barasbi Mulaye

Табор уходит в небо (1976)

The most attended movie in the Soviet Union in 1976 with 64.9 million tickets sold.

A Goddess, the summit of beauty and love. Rada was her name (Svetlana Toma)... Freedom and crime, love and death... All of these things are in the impressive drama made in 1976 after Maksim Gorky stories. The action takes place in a region near the border of the Russian and Austro-Hungarian Empires, right where Dracula and Sacher-Masoch came from. The film tells a story of a beautiful Gypsy Rada, who appears to have magic powers, a bold horse-stealer Loyko Zobar and their fatal love. There is transgression, tantra, pagan cults, dionysism, dark magic. This story can be named as well a Russian Carmen. Brilliant performance of Emil Lotjanu / Loteanu (director), Eugene Doga (music), Serguey Vronsky (photography), Svetlana Toma (awarded as the best Soviet actress of the year for the part of Rada), Grigore Grigoriu(Zobar), Borislav Brondukov (Buca) and others.

Thursday, 3 January 2008

Favourite of Public Aleksandr Abdulov Passed Away

The popular Russian theatre and film actor Aleksandr Abdulov has died today in a Moscow hospital.
Painful illness, namely lung cancer, distressed the yet young actor – Abdulov was only 54 – in August 2007.

Alexander Gavrilovich Abdulov was born on May 29, 1953 in Tobolsk in theatrical family - his father was the director of theatre in Fergana. Though Abdulov has first entered theater stage, when he was five years old, he did not aspire to actor's career. At school he was into sports, and fond of music. At the insisting of his father, after school he tried to enter Theater School of Schepkin, but it is unsuccessful, therefore, having returned from Moscow, has successfully passed examinations for sports faculty of a local teacher's college. Nevertheless, next year Alexander Abdulov again goes to Moscow and gets into ГИТИС, for the course of I.M. Rayevsky. Actor's film debute in 1974, while still a student, he played a small role of commando Kozlov in Michael Ptashuk's movie "About Vitya, Masha and sea infantry". In 1975 Abdulov's role in student play was noted by the main director of the Moscow theatre of Lenin's Komsomol (Ленком) Mark Zaharov, he has invited the young actor to be in his troupe. Since then Alexander Abdulov's name is inextricably related with Zaharov's theatre. Among Abdulov's most known theatrical works - a role in well-known "LENKOM" theater performance in "Unona and Avos". For the role in play "Barbarian and heretic" he has received Crystal Turandot award and fund of Stanislavsky's prize. In the middle of 70s movie career of the young actor took off as well. However wide popularity has come to Alexander Abdulov only after a role of the Bear in television film "Ordinary miracle" (1978), directed by Mark Zaharov based on Evgenie Schwarz's play of the same name. Another success was a Paul Arsenov melodrama under A.Volodin's play "With loved ones, do not separate" (1979), In which Abdulov played the main male role, Mitya, and the main female role was payed by his then wife - Irina Alfyorova. Uncommon gift allows Alexander Abdulov to play with equal success versatile roles, act in deverse films of various genres and by different directors. Among his most known roles are: Nikita in Tatyana Lioznova's "Carnival", murderer Rober in excentric detective movie "Search for the woman" directed by Alla Surikova, lyrical hero Ivan in Konstantin Bromberg's "Wizards" based on story by brothers Strugatsky. actor of a wide creative range, Alexander Abdulov played in popular comedies : ("Most charming and attractive", "For fine ladies", "Formula of love" by Mark Zaharov, "Anekdotes"), in dramas: ("Keep me safe, my talisman!" и "Lady Macbeth of Mtsensky district" by Roman Balayan, "Above dark water" by Dmitry Meskhiev), in crime adventure "Secrets of madam Wong", detective movie "Ten monkeys" by Stanislav Govorukhin), and in historical costume mini-series ("Naval cadets, forward!" by Svetlana Druzhinina).Especially it is necessary to highlight Alexander Abdulov's works in movies by Mark Zaharov, which immidiately became viewers favorites, and in Sergey Solovjev's films, that became some of thew most noteable ones in 80s & 90s. In 1991 Abdulov began co-operation with director Victor Sergeev, And their first film, a swindling detective story "Genius", appeared one of the most interesting pictures of those years and was one of domestic blockbusters; and criminal melodrama "Strange men of Ekaterina Semenov" has not passed unnoticed either, where Alexander Abdulov stared with Natalia Fisson and Andrey Sokolov. But Victor Sergeeva's other film "Schizophrenia", for which Abdulov himself has written the script, and Alexander Korzhakov was the consultant, didn't fare as well in 1997 ...