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