Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Friedrich Ermler: The Turning Point - Великий перелом (1945)

Directed by : Friedrich ERMLER
Writing credits : Boris CHIRSKOV
Mikhail DERZHAVIN (sen.)
Nikolay KORN
Cinematography : Arkadi KOLTSATY
Production design : Nikolay SUVOROV
Music : Gavriil POPOV
Sound : Nikolay KOSAREV, Aleksandr OSTROVSKY
Companies : Lenfilm
Restauration : Mosfilm (1967)
Release date in Russia : 29/01/1946

Awards: Cannes 1946

Plot synopsis
World War II. German high command accumulates enormous forces for the assault. Soviet troops commanded by General Muravyov repulse the enemy attacks. Soviet army scouts find out the exact day and time of the decisive offensive. Muravyov is determined to forestall the Nazis and plasters the enemy with fire. All is quiet. Will the fascist troops weakened by the surprise fire begin their offensive or put off the attack?
National Grand Prix and Award for Best Script at the 1st IFF in Cannes, France (1946). For this film, the main members of the crew and cast received the Stalin Prize (first class) of 1945: F. Ermler, B. Chirskov, A. Koltsaty, N. Suvorov, M. Derzhavin, A. Zrazhevsky (1946).
Source www.lenfilm.ru

Friedrich Ermler

Born: 13 May 1898 (Rechitsa, Russia, now Rezekna, Latvia)
Died: 12 July 1967 (Leningrad, Soviet Union, now Saint Petersburg, Russia)

Friedrich Ermler, one of the Soviet most undervalued directors of late silent and early sound film era, needs, by many critics nowdays a serious re-evaluation. Originally studied to be a pharmacist, his honest believe in the ideas of Bolshevik's led him to be a member of Red Army during the Russian Civil War, right after which he formally joined the Communist Party. His film career started in 1923, firstly taking screenwriting and acting classes at the Institute of Screen Arts in St. Petersburg and then continued as a director at Lenfilm Studios, where he spent practically his entire career (between 1939 and 1943, Ermler served as an artistic director of Lenfilm Studios). His feature film debut "Scarlet Fever/ Skarlatina" (1924) was a comedy. One of the most outstanding and celebrated works are a remarkably accurate portrayal of everyday life in 1920s Leningrad "Katka's Reinette Apples/Katka-bumazhny ranyet" (1926, co-directed with Edouard Ioganson), and "House in the Snow Drifts/Dom vsogrobakh" (1927), which was based on the short story The Cave by Yevgeny Zamatkin. In 1932, in conjuction with director Sergey Yutkevich, he completed his first sound film "Counterplan/Vstrechnyy/". Among others Elmer's best-known films count "Great Citizen/Veliky Grazhdanin" (1938), the two-part biography of Stalin's slain enemy Sergei Kirov and "Turning Point/Veliky Perelom" (1946), which won Grand Prix at Cannes Film Festival in 1946. Friedrich Ermler is considered a master of psychological realism, treatment of his characters is remarkably evenhanded, their weaknesses and even deceptions understood against a backdrop of fear and deprivation. The interest in elemental things: people's faces in two-shots, the way men put on their pants and boots, houses and bridges at night are the signature marks in all Ermler's work. Over his career, Ermler traveled to Europe (in 1929) and Hollywood (1935) as an ambassador for Soviet films.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Mikhail Romm: Nine Days of One Year - Девять дней одного года (1961)

Nine Days of One Year (1961)

Directed by Mikhail Romm
Written by Mikhail Romm and Daniil Khrabrovitskii.
Cinematography by German Lavrov.
Art direction by Georgii Kolganov.
Music by Dzhon Ter-Tatevosian.
Cast: Aleksei Batalov, Innokentii Smoktunovskii, Tat'iana Lavrova, and Nikolai Plotnikov.

During experiments at an institute for nuclear physics, a young scientist, Gusev, receives a dangerous dose of radiation. At his own risk, he decides to continue the experiments, which could lead to a ground-breaking discovery, but also to his death. The road of scientific prometheanism he has chosen to follow makes him a stranger in his own home and marriage. The existential challenge Gusev faces is compounded by an ethical dilemma of universal significance: what is the meaning of his sacrifice in a world that uses nuclear power for self-extermination?

Nine Days of One Year (1961)
Aleksei Batalov

The film hit the screens in the beginning of 1962 and soon became an emblematic text of the 60s. In it, for the first time in Soviet cinema, the viewer was allowed to enter the fascinating world of nuclear science, a realm hitherto concealed from the eye of the movie camera. The film owed much of its initial appeal to its mise-en-scéne. Most of the footage was shot on location in a research institute for nuclear physics in Siberia. Physicists were, in every respect, the supermen of the 1960s in the Soviet Union, and Romm's film has its own share in their idolization. For a society desperately trying to recover the ideals tarnished in the years of Stalinism, scientific progress offered a much-needed springboard. For Romm, it also offered a new sphere of liminal experience in which human values and ideological positions can be brought into sharp focus and tested for viability.

Nine Days of One Year

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Vasily Shukshin: There Lives a Fellow - Живёт такой парень(1964)

Directed by : Vasili SHUKSHIN
Writing credits : Vasili SHUKSHIN
Leonid Kuravlev, Lydia Chashchina, Larissa Burkova, Renita Grigoryeva, Nina Sazonova, Anastasia Zueva, Bella Akhmadulina, Boris Balakin, Rodion Nakhapetov, Viktor Filippov, Ivan Ryzhov, Nicholas Fedortsev, Eugene Teterin, Boris Romanov

Cinematography : Aleksandr BORISOV
Production design : Aleksandr VAGICHEV
Sound : Valentin KHLOBYNIN
Companies : Gorky Film Studio
Release date in Russia : 01/11/1964

Vasily Shukshin 25 July 1929 – 2 October 1974

In 1963, working out of the Gorky Film Studios, Shukshin produced his first full-length feature film Zhivet Takoi Paren' ("There Lives Such a Fellow"), which won the Golden Lion of Saint Mark Award at the 16th Venice Film Festival. Other films soon followed, such as Vash Syn i Brat ("Your Son and Brother", 1965), Stranniye Liudi ("Strange People", 1969), and Pechki-Lavochki ("Bench by the Stove", 1972).

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Aleksandr Sokurov: Moloch / Молох - (1999)

Starring: Elena Rufanova, Leonid Mosgovoi, Leonid Sokol, Yelena Spiridonova, Vladimir Bogdanov
Written by: Yuri Arabov, Marina Koreneva
Directed by: Alexander Sokurov

A Dialogue on Sokurov's Moloch Benjamin Halligan

The arrival of Aleksandr Sokurov's Mat' i syn (Mother and Son, 1997) on the international festival circuit was one of the cinematic highlights of 1998; the one-time Russian dissident film-maker - and protégé of Andrei Tarkovsky - had arrived triumphantly on the world's screens.
Praise for the film, "difficult" even by Art Cinema standards, was plentiful and as much from other film-makers as from critics. Musician Nick Cave's confessional piece "I Wept and Wept, from Start to Finish" (The Independent on Sunday, London, 29 March 1998) lent street kudos to the film and it was widely seen and discussed.

The anticipation that greeted Sokurov's subsequent film - Moloch (1999) - still doing the rounds on the international film festivals - soon gave way to bafflement. News of the film's subject matter - Adolf Hitler - had given rise to the suggestion that Sokurov would present a meditation on European fascism from the dying moments of the century of fascism and the first full century of film. Moloch precipitated hopes of a study of the actual figure of Hitler and what drove him to such evil (characters are rarely more "present" than in Sokurov's films), a "meta-history" of the type identified in Mat' i syn and a film with mythic considerations (the term "Moloch" refers to a deity found in several ancient cultures - Greek, Israeli, Cathari - associated with the sacrifice of children.) Perhaps, Moloch would present the antidote to recent Hollywood excursions into this territory. ...

Friday, 20 August 2010

Grigori Aleksandrov and Sergei M. Eisenstein Sentimental Romance - Сентиментальный романс) documentary (1930)

Directors: Grigori Aleksandrov & Sergei M. Eisenstein
Writers: Grigori Aleksandrov & Sergei Eisenstein
Photographed by Eduard Tisse.
Runtime: 20 min
Country: France
Color: Black and White
Sound Mix: Mono
Company: Sequana Films
Avant garde short by Sergei Eisenstein from 1930.

Alexander Proshkin: Trio - Трио (2003)

Director: Alexander Proshkin
Screenplay: Aleksandr Mindadze
Camera: Sergei Astakhov
Composer: Vladimir Martynov
Cast: Andrei Panin, Mikhail Porochenkov, Mariia Zvonareva

Director Aleksandr Proshkin's reputation rests on his television mini-series dealing with great figures (biopics) in Russian culture and science (Mikhailo Lomonosov, 1985; Nikolai Vavilov, 1991) and films that examine pivotal moments in Russian history―the execution of Beriia, bringing to a close the Stalinist era in The Cold Summer of 1953 (1987) and most recently his screen adaptation of Aleksandr Pushkin's famous account of Pugachev's revolt in the 18th century against Catherine the Great (The Captain's Daughter, 1999). In his latest film, Trio, which is set in contemporary Russia, Proshkin takes on a more restrained exploration of intricate human relations.

Reviewed by Vladimir Strukov©2004:

Monday, 16 August 2010

"Inadequate people" in new Russian films

The Russian film festival “A Window on Europe”, bearing in mind its motto “Forecast for Tomorrow”, has reached the conclusion that time has come for “Inadequate People”. The film with this title was awarded nearly all the festival’s prizes in Vyborg near St. Petersburg on the 15th of August.
“Inadequate people”, a romantic comedy by the film director Roman Karimov, was awarded the Grand-Prix, a diploma of the Guild of Film Critics for the best debut and a special prize for the best actors’ couple. The film shared, probably, the most valuable prize – the audience’s sympathies with another film. It means a very convincing victory. Apart from other things, the success of the film demonstrates the significant tendency of ousting depressing plots and turning to life-assertive motifs, unconstrained humour and natural intonations in Russian films of the latest years.
A 30-year-old man, living through the middle age crisis, arrives in Moscow and finds the job of a translator at the editorial board of a glossy magazine. His girlfriend met a tragic death, so to resume his mental balance, he even visits a psychologist. But he will be saved not by the specialist but by a charming schoolgirl who takes lessons of English from him. She is also living through a crisis, the crisis of growing up.
This is the plot of the film “Inadequate people” by Roman Karimov.
The film director says that his main character makes a fresh start in a new city, meets new people and even a new love without realizing it at first. The two young people grow closer and closer to each other and finally decide they want to be together. It is a very simple film, - Roman Karimov says and adds that his plan was to make a film with a small budget and with a happy end, that is an enjoyable film. He wrote the script himself. ...

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Sergei Gerasimov : Young Guard - Молодая гвардия (1948)

Directed by : Sergey GERASIMOV
Writing credits : Sergey GERASIMOV
Sergey GURZO
Viacheslav TIKHONOV
Cinematography : Vladimir RAPOPORT
Production design : Ivan STEPANOV
Music : Dmitriy SHOSTAKOVICH
Sound : Nikolay PISAREV
Companies : Gorky Film Studio
Release date in Russia : 11/10/1948

A two-part 1948 Soviet film directed by Sergei Gerasimov based on the novel of the same title by Alexander Fadeyev. In 1949 a Stalin Prize for this film was awarded to Gerasimov, cinematographer Vladimir Rapoport, and the group of leading actors.
The film was also the highest grossing Soviet Film of 1948 with approximately 48,600,000 tickets sold.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

First Russian 3D film to be promoted on government funding

Nearly half of the funding for The Dark World, the first 3D Russian film, will come from the government budget, Central Partnership CEO Ruben Dishdishyan said on Friday.
Central Partnership, Russia's largest film distributor, has received funding for seven films from the State Cinema Development Fund as Russia continues to pipe money into its film industry.
"The budget for the film is about $6 million," Dishdishyan said. "The promotion will cost about $3 million, the government share of this amount will be 30-40%."
However, not the entire film will be in 3D - only 20 minutes out of 100 have been converted from traditional 2D, Dishdishyan said.
The conversion has cost Central Partnership four million rubles ($132,000) - a measly amount for Hollywood perhaps, but a substantial one for Russia's inchoate 3D enterprise.
Converting the entire film into 3D would be too costly and too long in the bargain, Dishdishyan said.
Central Partnership Creative Director Sergei Bondaryov said the company "understands the skepticism of the audience and will warn them."
"We are going to have surveys after the shows and ask the audience what their impression of the partial 3D has been," he went on.
The Dark World, a story about a group of teenagers who awake evil powers in northern Russia, will hit the big screen on October 10.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

The first Moscow International Film Festival

On August 3, 1959, the first Moscow International Film Festival opened.
As a matter of fact, the festival was born in 1935, on Stalin’s personal order, and was conducted by the outstanding Soviet director, Sergey Eisenstein. First prize was awarded to “Lenfilm” movie studio with its releases of “Chapaev”, “Maksim’s Youth”, and “The Peasant”. Second prize went to French director Rene Clair for his anti-fascist “Le Billionaire”, and third place was occupied by the Walt Disney Company with its “Three Little Pigs”, “Mickey the Conductor”, and “Penguins” cartoons. The statement read that, “Cartoons by Walt Disney are the paragon of art, thanks to high artistic quality, graphics, and exceptional musicality.” Successful though it was, the festivals were never again held under Stalin.
The modern version of the festival was revived in 1959, under Nikita Khrushchev, after he launched a campaign of peaceful co-existence with the capitalist world in 1956. The next year, Moscow hosted the first Youth and Student Festival, followed by the revived Film Festival, with the motto “For humane cinematography, peace and friendship among people!” no other time could have been better for the festival to open, for both political and artistic reasons. Firstly, the post-Stalinist, “thawed”, Soviet Union had become an attraction for foreigners. Many films, which never made it to other festivals, were on display in Moscow. Secondly, it was the gate to the 1960s, bringing the revival of cinematography, as the movie industry worldwide gleamed with new outstanding names.
In Soviet times, the Moscow Film Festival was distinguished from others as having the largest number of films on display. Along with the actual contest, it also offered a number of minor contests for beginning directors, as well as various conferences, seminars, and creative labs.