Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Cruel Romance - Do not tell me about it!

Happy New Year!

Saturday, 26 December 2009

Black Lightning Goes on Screen

The last day of this year will see the new Russian blockbuster Black Lightning produced by Timur Bekmambetov go on screen in Russia.
A top-secret soviet flying car turns an ordinary guy into a Super Hero who initially rescues separate representatives of the humanity and then the entire Moscow, which is about to be exploded by a nasty villain who discovered… a diamond field under the city.
The idea to make a film about the pride of the soviet car industry occurred to Timur Bekmambetov. The first film director is his friend Aleksandr Voitinsky, the music video director and ex-producer of the band Zveri. The second film director is Dmitriy Kiselev, who was in charge of action and visual effects in Bekmambetov’s movies.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Critics Named the Best Russian Film of the Passing Year

From the point of view of Russian critics, the best Russian film of the year 2009 is Vasili Sigarev's drama Wolfy (Volchok). It was awarded the prize of film critics and press – the White Elephant. The awarding ceremony took place in the Moscow House of Cinema.
About 100 feature films released this year contended for the title of the best Russian film of 2009.
The film director of the year is Aleksey Balabanov with his Morphine based on Mikhail Bulgakov’s story. Aleksei Mizgiryov is acknowledged the best scriptwriter (the film Buben, baraban), and Alisher Khamidkhodjaev is recognized the best cameraman (Tale in the darkness (Skazka pro temnotu).
The best actor of the year is Oleg Yankovsky (Tsar), and the best actress is Natalya Negoda (Buben, baraban), who returned to filming after 20 years of “silence”.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Konstantin Khudyakov: On the Upper Scissors (На Верхней Масловке) -2005

Director: Konstantin Khudyakov
Cast: Alisa Freundlich, Yevgeny Mironov, Yevgeny Knyazev, Alena Babenko, Ekaterina Guseva
Video here.

In 2006 actress Alisa Freundlich won Nika award as Best Actress for this film.

Friday, 20 November 2009

Meeting Sergei Soloviev and Tatiana Drubich - 3. Russian Film Festival, London 2009


Russian 3D-Animation Our Masha and Magic Nut Goes on Screen

Film director Yegor Konchalovsky has completed 5-year work on the full-length 3D animated film Our Masha and Magic Nut (Nasha Masha i volshebnyy orekh), a New Year musical fairy tale about first love, strong friendship and true adventures.
The scenario is based on the same-name book, but with some use of Hoffmann’s tale The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. the scriptwriters are popular writers and bloggers Aleksandr Bachilo, Leonid Kaganov, and Igor Tkachenko. ...

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Bumer - Бумер - Boomer (2003)

Boomer (2003)

Written by D. Rodimin, PA Buslov
Director P. Buslov
Operator D. Gurevich
Artist Composer Obedkova W. S. Shnurov
Cast: V. Vdovichenkov, S. Gorobchenko, A. Merzlikin, M. Konovalov, L. Poliakov
Other Cinema "STV", Studio "Pygmalion"
Russia 2003

Pyotr Buslov nominated for Nika Award 2004, Sergey Shnurov Nika Award 2004 for Best Music. Read more about the movie here.

Petr Buslov: Boomer (Bumer) (2003) reviewed by Gerald McCausland ©2003

Monday, 5 October 2009

Awards presented at 5th Zurich film festival, with Russian film winning in international category

The Russian film Wolfy, directed by Vassily Sigarev, won the Golden Eye in the international feature film section....
The Zurich film festival, being held for the fifth time, prides itself on "discovering and promoting independent voices and talent from around the world", and on presenting a number of world and European premieres. This year it screened more than 60 films.

Monday, 21 September 2009

Alexander Proshkin - Miracle - Чудо (2009)

Director: Aleksandr Proshkin
Writer: Yuri Arabov (screenplay)
Stars: Konstantin Khabenskiy, Vitaliy Kishchenko,Polina Kutepova

At 31st Moscow International Film Festival Special jury award went to Alexander Proshkin for film “Miracle” - (Чудо).

Set in the year 1959 and based on a true story, The Miracle explores the notion of faith as the Soviet Union emerged from its most totalitarian and paranoid phase. Stalin is not long dead; Nikita Khrushchev has taken power. Tatiana, a young, attractive woman is suddenly frozen to one spot; she clutches the Icon of St Nicholas, is breathing, but otherwise immobile. Attempts by the local KGB officer and others to awaken Tatiana and remove her from where she stands, fail. Rumours of the frozen girl spread to Moscow. The locals believe it is a miracle and this question of faith prompts a political crisis for the Soviet bureaucrats. A cynical Moscow journalist, Nikolai Artemyev (Konstantin Khabenskiy (Admiral) is sent to investigate, while the local priest is threatened with the closure of his church if he preaches the event to be a miracle. Soviet national significance is at stake, and eventually even the General Secretary, Nikita Khrushchev himself, arrives to take charge in an attempt to remove the woman. Directed by Alexander Proshkin (The Captains Daughter) The Miracle explores a time when the only faith tolerated was faith in the Communist Party. A "captivating and powerful film…a film which delivered on its ultimate aim of capturing the viewers' subconscious," said Russian playwright, Pyotr Gladilin.

Miracle (2009)

Alexander Proshkin was born on March 25, in 1940 in Leningrad.
In 1961, he graduated from the Actor Faculty of Leningrad State Institute of Theater, Music and Cinema, where he studied the course of Boris Zon. From 1961 to 1966, Alexander Proshkin was an actor at Leningrad Comedy Theater. In 1968 he graduated from the director courses with the USSR State Television.
For many years he worked as a director in the main editorial office of the literary and dramatic programs on Central Television, and then at the TV association «Ekran». In 1986, his biographical TV film «Mikhail Lomonosov» brought him All-Union fame, even though earlier, in 1981, Alexander Proshkin made a very interesting film «Dangerous Age» with Alice Freindlikh and Juozas Budraytis in leading roles. In 1988 his movie «Cold Summer ,1953» with Anatoly Papanov and Valery Priemyhov in the leading roles received professional awards, as well as the USSR State Prize (1989).

In 1999, the director shot the film «Russian Revolt» based on Alexander Pushkin’s story «Captain's Daughter».

In 2005, Alexander Proshkin shot 11-part television «Doctor Zhivago». In 2008 he made a screen version of V. Rasputin’s story "Live and Remember".

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Andrei Khrzhanovsky: Room and a Half - Полторы комнаты, trailer (2009)

Director:Andrey Khrzhanovskiy
Writers:Yuri Arabov, Andrey Khrzhanovskiy
Stars:Aleksandr Bargman, Sergey Barkovskiy, Aleksei Devotchenko

A multiple-award-winner in Russia for his animation work, Andrey Khrzhanovsky’s semi-fictionalised biography of Nobel prize-winning poet Josef Brodsky is a lively, dense and richly imaginative portrait not only of a great writer but also of the post-Second World War cultural world of the Soviet Union. Using live-action, documentary and archive footage as well as several types of animation and surrealist flights of fancy and some seven years in the making, Khrzhanovsky’s labour of love will be a festival and arthouse favourite with Russian communities abroad sure to embrace it.

Born in 1940 and considered the greatest Russian poet of his time, the liberal Jewish writer was exiled from his beloved homeland in 1972 never to return. Awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1987, he died an American citizen in 1996. Khrzhanovsky imagines Brodsky returning home and uses the journey as the starting point for his flashbacks with the older Brodsky (Dityatkovsky) on the deck of a luxury liner, reviewing all his life from the early war years when his Navy photographer father (Yursky) was serving in the Far East, while Brodsky accompanied his Red Army translator mother (Freindlich) to various prison camps across the country.

Some of the most touching moments in the film cover his childhood, painting an intimate, cheerful, closely knit family, that never lets their cramped living space or the penury of the lean years sap their spirit. The film freely elaborates on young Brodsky’s flights of imagination at the time, including a magical animated sequence in which Soviet soldiers throw culture out of the window, followed by a whole orchestra’s worth of instruments. ...

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Ermler, Stalin, and Animation: On the Film The Peasants (1934)

By Peter Bagrov (St. Petersburg)

Fridrikh Ermler’s The Peasants is such a strange and unexpected film that it is impossible to decide on how to approach it, especially when the focus will be on such an exotic topic as Stalin’s animated representation. It is unclear where one should begin: with the film itself? with Ermler? with Stalin? or with the animation sequence?
Stalin (let’s start with him) first appeared as a character in feature films in 1937 in Mikhail Romm’s Lenin in October. To be completely accurate, however, we should also include Sergei Eisenstein’s October (1927), although the future “father of the people” appeared only as a face in mass scenes. This was noticed for the first time, I believe, only two years ago by filmmaker and film scholar Oleg Kovalov (117). So the film does not really count. In the cast credits for Lenin in October, Stalin’s name was already in second place, immediately after Lenin’s. The role, however, was only episodic and was performed by a type-cast actor who was discovered in the provinces—Semen Gol'dshtab. [1]

Read more in KinoKultura

Biography and Filmography

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Vartan Akopian: Platon (2008)

Platon, Russia 2008,
93 minutes, color
Directed by Vartan Akopian
Written by Ametkhan Magomedov, Vartan Akopian
Cinematography by Vakhagn Ter-Khakobian
Edited by Margarita Smirnova
Costume Design by Anastasia Nefiodova
Music by Arto Tunçboyaciyan
With Pavel Volia (Platon), Elizaveta Lotova (Liuba), Mukhtar Gusengadzhiev (Abdul), Kseniia Kniazeva (Nastia), Aleksandr Lymarev (Anton).

Reviewed by Daniel H. Wild © 2009 in KinoKultura

Despite its surefooted stylistic confidence and exuberant visual flourish, there is a disconcerting sense of unease at work in Platon, Vartan Akopian’s skillful debut film set in a contemporary world of beautiful fashion models and powerful business men. ...

Friday, 17 July 2009

“One and a half room was enough for victory”

Film director Andrei Khrzhanovsky has returned to Russia from Karlovy Vary with the “Crystal Globe” award. His film-fantasy “Poltory Komnaty, ili Sentimentalnoye Puteshestviye na Rodinu” (“One and a Half Room…”) about the life and work of poet Joseph Brodsky was awarded the main prize of the Karlovy Vary Film Festival in a parallel contest , “East of the West”.
For film critics Khrzhanovsky’s award at the Karlovy Vary film festival was no surprise at all. His work was favourably received at the Rotterdam film forum in December last year, as the press reports said. This time the film goers also showed great interest in his film.
Voice of Russia

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Sergei Bondarchuk

Actor-director Sergei Bondarchuk (R) during the filming of "War & Peace."

Outstanding film director and brilliant actor Sergei Bondarchuk (1920 – 1994) underwent breath-taking, almost improbable rises in his life as well as dizzy failures and disappointments in the end.

Sergei Bondarchuk was born in 1920 in a Ukrainian settlement. At the age of 17 he first appeared on stage. Bondarchuk was already studying at a drama school in Rostov when the war broke out. Then there was battle-front life – in Grozny, Armavir, and Mozdok.

In 1948 he played his first role in “The The Young Guard” (aka Molodaya Gvardia) film, which became his diploma work.

In 1952 Stalin praised actor Bondarchuk for his role in ‘Taras Shevchenko’, and the day after it the actor was conferred on the title of the People’s Artist of the USSR (the highest title people normally got after dozens of years of creative work). In spite of the fact, Bondarchuk would always expand or even sweep away the limitations the communist leaders put for the Soviet cinema.

It is worth mentioning that Bondarchuk’s acting in ‘Taras Shevchenko’ got international acclaim as well – he was awarded at the festival in Karlovy Vary. His debut as a film director was not less successful: the movie ‘Fate of a Man’ (aka Sudba cheloveka (1959)) about a Russian soldier going through the Second World War brought him the Grand-Prix of the Moscow International Film Festival. More...

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Gavriil Yegiazarov: The Hot Snow - Горячий снег (1972)

Hot Snow (1972)

Director: Gavriil Yegiazarov
Starring: George Zhzhyonov, Anatoly Kuznetsov, Boris Tokarev.

Based on the novel by Yuri Bondarev.
Battle of Stalingrad - the beginning of radical change in the Great Patriotic War. Panzer General Manstein armada rushing to the rescue encircled troops of Field Marshal von Paulus, opposes Army General Bessonov. The main shock took over the artillery battery Drozdovskoye battalion, consisting of recent graduates of military academies, has not fired in combat. After a fierce battle on battery power left one gun and a few half-dead men. But the enemy did not work.

Aleksandr Abdulov Biography

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. More...

Pavel Lungin - Biography

His very first film “Taxi-Blues” released in 1990 came as a true revelation and a subject of controversy and slam-bang discussion; it was marked with the special prize of the Cannes film festival. His recent work, “The Island”, a most piercing drama, cannot but leave a lasting impression. Pavel Lungin is a well-known Russian film-director for some reasons dwelling in Paris.

Pavel Semyonovich Lungin was born in Moscow on July 12, 1949. His mother, Liliana Lungina, is famous for her brilliant Russian translations of Astrid Lindgren’s books. His father, Semyon Lungin, a well-known script-writer, wrote scenarios (with his co-author Ilya Nusinov) for such popular movies as Agoniya (Agony, 1981), Vnimanie, cherepakha! (Attention, Turtle! 1970), Dobro pozhalovat (Welcome, or No Trespassing, 1964), and others. More...

Official site

Friday, 29 May 2009

Sergei Solovyov: Anna Karenina - Анна Каренина (TV mini-series) (2009), trailer

Director: Sergei Solovyov
Writers: Sergei Solovyov, Leo Tolstoy (novel)
Stars: Tatyana Drubich, Oleg Yankovskiy, Yaroslav Boyko


In terms of the sheer number of cinematic adaptations, Anna Karenina ranks close behind Shakespeare’s Othello: by my count, it has twenty four screen incarnations, a vast majority of them produced in the US and UK, dating from 1910 to Sergei Solov’ev’s most recent venture, a television mini-series fused into full-length feature. This history, together with the fact that the version reviewed here is the English-language one intended for worldwide distribution, makes it impossible to map the film in easy terms of fidelity and tradition. As Christian Metz asserted as early as 1977, evaluating an adaptation against a literary “original” is a meaningless exercise devoted to clashing phantasms in the reader’s or viewer’s imaginations; Robert Stam, more recently, demonstrates that it obscures the rich dialogic set of relations between the literary and film medium (Metz 12; Stam 55).

Saturated with deep color and attempting as comprehensive a view of the nineteenth-century “loose baggy monster” of the novel, the movie communes not so much with the 1967 Soviet production but rather with the globalized genre of Masterpiece Theater on the one hand and, on the other, the Hollywood epic(the most recent Karenina of the latter type was released in 1997, directed by Bernard Rose and starring Sophie Marceau and Alfred Molina as Anna and Levin). What makes Solov’ev’s version stand out—and simultaneously, constitutes some of the more frustrating moments of viewing it—is the attempt to do something new with film form and language.

Just like literary fidelity, the criterion of historical authenticity haunts all period dramas based on “great books.” In terms of costume and sets, in fact, the film falls short: although lavishly appointed and panoramically filmed, the appearance of people and places seems overdetermined and occasionally anachronistic. The dresses, for example, look synthetic and machine-styled; the preponderance of the national flag in virtually all public places, including the skating rink, speaks more of the (post)-Putin than the Tolstoyan era; and poorly-heated nineteenth-century houses could not possibly support so many tropical plants in corridors and stairwells.

A far bolder engagement with the concept of period, however, redeems these details by making Solov’ev’s Karenina qualitatively different from its predecessors. The film strives to recuperate cinema itself as a thing of the past, a notion often lost in the dichotomy between a nineteenth-century literary work and the expectations of contemporary spectatorship. Rather than construct a so-called realistic rendition of Tolstoy’s narrative by using every innovative technique of continuity, the film reaches back to the structural and metaphorical repertoire of the silent age. First—and this is an ironic moment when the dictates of the mini-series fit the experience of early cinema in a surprisingly complementary way—it condenses the eight-part novel into a five-part numbered sequence, each of which is given a descriptive title such as “Snowstorm” or, in the best tradition of dark romances, “An Awful Woman.” Apart from these titles announcing every part, the film actively uses intertitles: displayed as text quoted from the novel, they act as both explanatory devices and fillers. Intertwining reading and viewing is a particularly self-conscious gesture towards the problem of adaptation, but the effect is marred considerably when yet another device enters the fray. Adding the interjection of the narrator’s voice, through the patently latter-day medium of the voice-over, is a little too much (meta)text for the viewer who is just beginning to enjoy the experiment.

Reviewed by Anindita Banerjee © 2009 in KinoKultura

Friday, 22 May 2009

Mikhail Kalatozov: The Unsent Letter aka The Unmailed Letter -Неотправленное письмо (1959)

Director: Mikhail Kalatozov
Writers: Grigori Koltunov, Valeri Osipov (screenplay),
Stars: Tatyana Samojlova, Yevgeni Urbansky,Innokenti Smoktunovsky

Soviet drama film directed by Mikhail Kalatozov. It was entered into the 1960 Cannes Film Festival.

You can now watch the film, with English subtitles, here.

Thursday, 30 April 2009

Leonid Bykov: Only Old Men Are Going to Battle - В бой идут одни «старики» (1973)

Directed by Leonid Bykov.
With Leonid Bykov, Sergei Podgornyj

Only «Old Men» Are Going to Battle is a 1973 Soviet film directed by Leonid Bykov. Note that the old men does not mean elderly, but rather as experienced fighters. Film is dedicated to World War II pilots.

The film as well as its leading role by Leonid Bykov was awarded with the First Prize of VII All-Union Cinema Festival in Baku. In 2009 film was re-released with the recolorized and remastered version by Igor Lopatenok (supervisor). There's evidence that Leonid Bykov wanted to make the film in color but the color tape was very scarce at that time. Screenplay by Leonid Bykov, Yevgeni Onopriyenko and Aleksandr Satsky. Original Music by Viktor Shevchenko, conductor - I. Klyuchayev, sound - Nina Avramenko. Cinematography by Vladimir Vojtenko. Runtime 92 min. Production by Dovzhenko Film Studios, colorization by Grading Dimension Pictures.

Monday, 20 April 2009

Pavel Chukhrai: The Thief - Bop (1997)

Director: Pavel Chukhrai
Cast: Vladimir Mashkov, Yekaterina Rednikova, Misha Philipchuk

Film was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film and won the Nika Award for Best Picture and Best Directing. Also winner of the International Youth Jury's prize, the President of the Italian Senate's Gold Medal, and the UNICEF Award at the 1997 Venice Film Festival.

The Thief is a story of hero worship that recounts what happens when a young boy chooses the wrong role model. It's also an examination of the way a person's impressions of the world change from childhood to adulthood, and how the simple innocence of a 6 year-old's outlook is doomed to mutate in the face of life's harsh realities. The Thief relates the memories of Sanya, a forty-something Russian who looks back on his early years with an unbiased eye. His voiceover narration is sparse, giving us the bare details of time, place, and background, and reminding us of how uncertain our childhood recollections are. Director Pavel Chukhrai uses this perspective to present a child's point-of-view filtered through the vision of an adult. It's 1946 Russia, and the war is over. A young woman, Katya (Yekaterina Rednikova), collapses in the roadside mud and gives birth to a baby boy. Her husband, injured in combat, has been dead for six months. The child, whom she names Sanya, will never know his real father (although he has mystical visions of a ghost-like apparition), and his life is destined to be one of poverty, disappointment, and despair. Six years later, when Sanya (Misha Philipchuk) and his mother are traveling across Russia by train, they encounter Tolyan (Vladimir Mashkov), a dashing soldier who sweeps Katya off her feet and charms young Sanya. By the time the train ride is over, the three have become a makeshift family, with Katya posing as Tolyan's wife and Sanya as his son. Tolyan is a little too rough to be the ideal father figure, but he forms a bond with the boy and teaches him some difficult lessons, emphasizing his belief that winning is everything and that respect is earned only through fear. Katya's idyllic "marriage" doesn't last long, however. Shortly after she, Tolyan, and Sanya move into a communal apartment, she discovers his source of income – he's a thief. And, while Tolyan thinks of his occupation as nothing more than a means to provide for himself, Katya sees the misery those thefts bring to his victims. As the trio flees from town to town to avoid the authorities, Tolyan's lifestyle begins to exact an emotional price from Katya. For her sake and her son's, she wants to leave Tolyan, but she can't find the courage to do so because she has nowhere else to go. The conclusion of The Thief delivers a blunt and telling blow that offers one plausible explanation for why children act violently. What's most important about this key scene is the matter-of-fact manner in which it is presented. Chukhrai gives it no greater significance than any other moment in Sanya's remembrances. This approach highlights the tragedy of lost innocence. The Thief is characterized by three strong performances. Vladimir Mashkov fashions Tolyan into a character who is frightening, charming, and likable at the same time. Yekaterina Rednikova gives a poignant portrayal as the luckless Katya. The real discovery, however, is young Misha Philipchuk, one of those rare child actors who is capable of giving a completely natural performance. Philipchuk displays Sanya's joy, anger, frustration, and pain as if they were happening to him. One wonders how Chukhrai was able to coax such a believable portrayal from the least-experienced member of his cast. ...

"The Thief" is one of those metaphor-driven movies, promising an inevitable epiphany in which its veiled meaning suddenly hits you like a proverbial ton of bricks. Not that it's heavy-handed, but it's not exactly subtle either. A 1997 Academy Award nominee for Best Foreign Language Film, "The Thief" is on the one hand a carefully observed, beautifully acted and moving evocation of life for a World War II Russian war-widow and her young son, and their encounter with a charismatic petty thief. But it is also a blunt and powerful allegory of the motherland herself and the conflicted emotional state of a nation under a harshly paternalistic Joseph Stalin. Told from the point of view of a 6-year-old boy (the adorable Misha Philipchuk), the literal story revolves around Sanya and his mother Katya (Ekaterina Rednikova) and the handsome stranger they meet on a train in 1952. Dressed in the dashing uniform of a soldier, Tolyan (Vladimir Mashkov) immediately catches Katya's eye and-after a feverish coupling on the platform between jostling train cars-the two decide to cast their lot with each other. Masquerading as husband and wife in order to get a better shot at a communal apartment, Katya and Tolyan soon settle in to what looks like the beginning of financial prosperity, with their apparently cozy domesticity shattered by increasingly frequent bouts of spousal abuse and frighteningly stern child-rearing. Furthermore, it rapidly becomes apparent that Tolyan's cash flow comes not from any military paycheck but from the five-finger discount he gives himself at the market and in his neighbors' apartments. Around this time is when the self-proclaimed "Daddy" removes his shirt to reveal the tattoo of Stalin on his chest to little Sanya (just in case there were any lingering doubts as to whom the criminal represents in this morality play). Although he badgers the boy cruelly and enlists his aid in the commission of dangerous robberies, Tolyan does demonstrate a genuine concern for his foster son's well-being. The two begin to develop a familial relationship of sorts, with a bond forged not only out of respect, but fear. What happens next is history, both literally and figuratively. ...

Monday, 13 April 2009

Cult Movie The Needle (Igla) to be Continued

Rashid Nugmanov, the director of The Needle (Igla) (1988), which features the famous rock musician Viktor Tsoi, is working on the remake of this cult movie.

“The film will include scenes from the original Igla; all the shots with Viktor Tsoy and the film plot will remain in it. Yet, it is going to be an independent movie. It will give explanations to certain scenes, the development of characters will be shown” - Rashid Nugmanov pointed out.

Monday, 6 April 2009

Pavel Lungin: Lilacs - Ветка сирени (2007)

Lilac branch (2007)

Director: Pavel Lungin
Stars: Liya Akhedzhakova, Oleg Andreyev,
Igor Chernevich

In Russia, film biographies have been anything but conventional. When turning to the “biopic,” as this popular genre of moviemaking is known today in Hollywood, Russian filmmakers have typically opted for stylization over standard narrative. As far back as 1934, Georgii and Sergei Vasil’ev’s seminal Chapaev portrayed its Civil War hero in a humorous, yet strident manner that helped establish Socialist Realism on the Soviet screen, while Eisenstein, in both Aleksandr Nevskii (1938) and Ivan the Terrible, Parts I and II (Ivan Groznyi, 1944-58), fashioned a biographical treatment of Russia’s bygone leaders in the ominous shadow of Joseph Stalin.  Several decades later and under less restrictive circumstances, AndreiTarkovskii’s Andrei Rublev (1966) offered an elliptical form of film biography, as disparate episodes with little biographical specificity constituted this epic look at the eponymous 15th-century icon painter. More recently, in His Wife’s Diary (Dnevnik ego zheny, 2000), Aleksei Uchitel’ has delved into the stormy domestic life of Russian writer Ivan Bunin and his travails as an émigré in southern France, Iurii Kara has explored the tragic years of the engineer Sergei Korolev (Korolev, 2007) or Andrei Kravchuk has turned to the life of Admiral Kolchak (Admiral, 2008), while Pavel Lungin’s Tycoon (Oligarkh, 2002) offers a loose, semi-veiled biography of powerful Russian businessman and media tycoon Boris Berezovskii. 

Lilac branch (2007)

Lungin’s Lilacs examines the life of the renowned Russian composer Sergei Rachmaninoff. Jumping back and forth between Rachmaninoff’s later years as an émigré in the United States and his youth in pre-Revolutionary Russia, Lungin utilizes narrative techniques linked to the Hollywood biopic—most notably, detailed period-piece scenes of turn-of-the-century Russia and 1920s America that dramatize recognizable events from the composer’s life—to probe Rachmaninoff’s creative malaise in the U.S. as well as his earlier rise as a Romantic composer and pianist in Moscow and St. Petersburg. Throughout Lilacs, we encounter crucial events from Rachmaninoff’s biography, including the unsuccessful debut of his first symphony, his dabbling with psychotherapy under the guidance of renowned Russian physician Nikolai Dahl, his controversial and somewhat tumultuous marriage to his cousin Natalia, and his extensive touring of the U.S. in the 1920s, as arranged by Fred Steinway of the famous piano-producing family. But not so fast! Despite the familiar events from Rachmaninoff’s life and a soundtrack replete with Rachmaninoff’s music, Lungin concludesLilacs with a startling disclaimer: “The main hero and the events of the film constitute an artistic invention and have been used only for the creation of the film. They do not represent any particular person and do not reflect events from this person’s life.”

Reviewed by Tim Harte © 2009 in KinoKultura

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

2-ASSA-2 (2АССА2) -Trailer

Director: Sergei Solov’ev
Scriptwriter: Sergei Solov’ev
Cinematography: Iurii Klimenko
Art Director: Sergei Ivanov
Sound: Pavel Ivushkin
Editing: Rinat Khalilullin
Music: Sergei Shnurov
Cast: Tat’iana Drubich, Sergei Makovetskii, Iurii Bashmet, Aleksandr Bashirov, Anna Solov’eva, Olesia Sudzilovskaia, Sergei Shnurov, Ekaterina Volkova
Producer: Sergei Solov’ev
Production company: Cinema-Line

Sergei Solov’ev: 2-ASSA-2 (2009)reviewed by Lilya Kaganovsky © 2009

Sergei Solov’ev’s 2-ASSA-2 opens and closes with sequences taken from his original classic cult film ASSA (1987). In the opening shots, we once again see the singer Viktor Tsoy of the rock group Kino take the stage to perform his famous “We Wait for Change” [My zhdem peremen]. The camera pushes in on Tsoy’s face and suddenly there’s a background shift—and now we see Tsoy performing at a rock concert at the Zelenyi Theater and millions of Kino fans holding up lit matches. The year, we are reminded, is 1987; the place, Moscow, USSR. The power of this scene, when we first saw it in the late eighties as the closing moments of ASSA, lay in part with the performer and performance, with a new attention to youth culture, and also to the possibility of change. Though many of the film’s characters did not survive to the end, the film nevertheless offered the viewer a glimmer of hope, a kind of renewal for a nation poised on the edge of an abyss.

Monday, 2 March 2009

Aleksei Balabanov: War - Война (2002)

Directed by Aleksei Balabanov
Produced by Sergei Selyanov
Written by Aleksei Balabanov
Starring Ian Kelly
Aleksei Chadov
Music by Vyacheslav Butusov
Cinematography Sergei Astakhov
Editing by Marina Lipartiya
Distributed by Intercinema Art Agency
Release date(s) March 14, 2002
Running time 120 minutes
Country Russia
Language Russian

War (Война) is a 2002 Russian film by Aleksei Balabanov about the realities of the Second Chechen War starring Aleksei Chadov and Ian Kelly.

Cult Russian director Balabanov's Voina is likely to have a parallel existence—revered as a tribute to the late actor Sergei Bodrov Jr and despised as a piece of nationalist, warmongering propaganda. Andrew James Horton unravels the film in Kinoeye:

That Aleksei Balabanov's latest film Voina (War, 2002) will have good festival mileage is almost a foregone conclusion. After all, his previous films have all been festival hits, despite questions about the director's increasing nationalism, the film is partially in English, which will aid international exposure, and Voina is a tribute to its one of its supporting actors, the late Sergei Bodrov Jr, who died in an avalanche in the Caucusus on 20 September 2002 at the age of 31.

Barely a month after Bodrov's death, though, and the subject of Balabanov's film, the war in Chechnya, has been thrown into the international limelight by the dramatic hostage-taking drama at a Moscow theatre orchestrated by Chechens demanding an end to the war. With the controversial end to the siege, which ended in nearly 130 hostages being killed by the gas used by special forces to immobilise the captors, many commentators outside of Russia, and a rather smaller number within, have questioned Vladimir Putin's strong-man tactics in dealing with the republic and called for more dialogue to take place. Putin, then, will in some respects welcome Balabanov's film, as it is a plea for uncompromising milatarism in dealing with the Chechen people. ...

Aleksey Chadow won a prize as best actor at Montréal World Film Festival in 2002.

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Eldar Riazanov: The Garage - ГАРАЖ (1979)

Garage (1979)

Director: Eldar Ryazanov
Writers: Emil Braginskiy, Eldar Ryazanov
Stars: Liya Akhedzhakova, Iya Savvina, Svetlana Nemolyaeva

Garage (1979)

The members of a Soviet cooperative have pooled their money to have a badly needed parking garage built. But it turns out that the garage will have four fewer spaces than planned. In brutal Soviet style, the four least-well connected members are evicted from the cooperative in a mock vote, losing their entire investment. But one member, Malayeva, does the unthinkable. As if taking on the entire corrupt Soviet system, she quixotically locks down the meeting room and throws away the key. Chaos reigns through the night until the privileged are forced to negotiate for the first time in their lives. >>>

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Aleksandr Ptushko: Sadko - Садко (1952)

Directed: Aleksandr Ptushko
Written: Konstantin Isaev
Camera: Fedor Provorov
Score: Nikolai Rimskii-Korsakov (from the opera Sadko)
Composer of Original Music: Vissarion Shebalin
Sound: Viktor Zorin
Costume Design: Ol'ga Kruchinina
Effects: Sergei Mukhin
With: Sergei Stoliarov, Alla Larionova, Mikhail Troianovskii, Nadir Malishevskii

One of the most difficult years for filmmaking in the Soviet Union saw the production of Aleksandr Ptushko's film adaptation of one of Russia's most beloved heroic tales. National folklore was one of the very few sources from which artists of any genre could create free from the stifling control of state ideology. The choice of material was more than simply a strategic detail in the story of this film's success. Ptushko's 'Sadko' brings to life a virtual catalouge of narrative devices, plot twists, and cultural values that have characterized both popular and high culture throughout Russian history. This fact cannot be overestimated in considering the success of this film, one of the most genuinely popular films of its time among Soviet audiences.

You can watch the movie here.