Saturday, 28 April 2012

Sergey Bodrov, Ivan Passer: Nomad (The Warrior) - Кочевник (2006)

Directors: Sergey Bodrov, Ivan Passer
Writer: Rustam Ibragimbekov
Stars: Kuno Becker, Jason Scott Lee and Jay Hernandez

Never before have Kazakh people waited so long for the arrival of a national film. The press and television reported on the progress of this mega-project during the two years that it was being made. At last, Nomad has been finished. For the first time a Kazakh film has such powerful Western distributors as Wild Bunch for Europe and Miramax for America. These companies are preparing for the film’s broad release worldwide. What else could we wish for? After the film’s premiere in Kazakhstan in July a negative, rather than positive, opinion was formed, although the majority of spectators have still not seen it yet. Why is Nomad being criticized? Has this project been successful?

For 14 years we have lived in an independent Kazakhstan as it was creating its statehood. Nobody will contest that this has been a historically important period in terms of nation-building. We have not only raised our economy and built an effective management structure, but we have also been creating the image of this new country. What is the contribution of Kazakh cinema in this context? Which domestic films have influenced the formation of our national consciousness? Many such films have been made and I would classify them according to three categories:

- films that designate the transition from the Soviet era to independence: basically the early - - films of the Kazakh “New Wave” by Serik Aprymov, Rashid Nugmanov, Amir Karakulov, Abai Karpykov, and Darejan Omirbaev;
- historical films that have opened dramatic markers of our history, such as films by Ardak Amirkulov, Damir Manabaev, Bolat Sharip, and Satybaldy Narymbetov;
- films about our present day that reflect the reality of our daily life. As a rule, these films offer a critical view on reality: Shanghai (1996) by Alexander Baranov, Killer (1998) by Darejan Omirbaev, Zhylama (Don’t Cry, 2002) by Amir Karakulov, or Shizo (2004) by Gul'shad Omarova, and others.

It is hard to overestimate the significance of all these films: they not only reflect our views on life today, but they also fill in important cultural codes about what has happened to us and what the present and future hold in store.

Moreover, during these years several films have been made that carried out the task of nation building to the full. For example, when Bolat Sharip’s Zamanai (1998) appeared, it had all the prospects of becoming a genuine national film because it told the story of the Kazakh people’s return to their homeland. But probably it appeared at an unsuitable moment, in 1998, when there was no operative system for film distribution. The film was lost and has not been seen by audiences. The same thing happened with such films as Serik Aprymov’s Aksuat (1999), Slambek Taukelov’s Batyr Bayan (1993), Satybaldy Narymbetov’s Leila’s Prayer (Molitva Leily, 2002), and many others. As a result, spectators formed a false belief that Kazakh cinema was exclusively aimed at festivals, even though it was the lack of access to a domestic film distribution network that deprived national audiences of our national cinema. ...

Reviewed by Gulnara Abikeyeva© 2006 in KinoKultura

Friday, 27 April 2012

Living takes top prize at goEast

Living (Zhit), the second feature from Russia’s Vassily Sigarev picked up the Golden Lily for best film and the FIPRESCI prize at this year’s goEast – Festival of Central and Eastern European Film in Wiesbaden on Tuesday night (April 24). Produced by Koktebel Film Company, Living presents three intertwined tales of existential loss and mourning. The international jury headed by Romanian film director Cristi Puiu gave the prize for best direction to Bulgaria’s Konstantin Bojanov for his debut Ave, while the Federal Foreign Office’s award ‘for artistic originality which creates cultural diversity’ went to Kirghiz film-maker Aktan Arym Kubat’s Mother’s Paradise, based on a screenplay by Mohsen Makhmalbaf. ...

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Ludmila Savelyeva - Russian Audrey Hepburn

Lyudmila Savelyeva is a Russian actress and and ballerina known as Natasha Rostova in epic film "War and Peace", a powerful adaptation of the eponymous masterpiece by Leo Tolstoy by director Sergei Bondarchuk.
Ludmila Mikhailovna Savelyeva was born on 24 January 1942, in Leningrad (St. Petersburg). From 1950 to 1962 she studied acting and ballet at the prestigious Vaganovskoe College of Ballet, graduating in 1962 as ballerina. That same year she became member of the Kirov Ballet at Mariinsky Theatre in Leningrad (St. Petersburg). She made her film debut in "Sleeping beauty" (1964). She was making a successful career in ballet when Sergei Bondarchuk's assistant noticed Lyudmila Savelyeva.
Having no experience as an actress she however was invited to Moscow to take part in casting for the film "War and Peace". Savelyeva was screen tested for the role of Natasha Rostova among other Soviet actresses as Anastasiya Vertinskaya, Natalia Fateeva and Natalia Kustinskaya.
"War and Peace" was produced over seven years, from 1961 to 1968. In the beginning her acting career Lyudmila Savelyeva was performing in  ballet as well but finally had to leave the theater as it became impossible to combine both acting and dancing.
She was often asked about this choice as Savelyeva's career in ballet was very promising. She always replied that the character of Natasha Rostova became a part of her life and this made her choice.
And finally Savelyeva shot to fame as Natasha Rostova after the film was released. The image of Natasha Rostova became one of most favorite female characters created in Russian cinema.
Ludmila Savelyeva's natural beauty and effortless style won her numerous accolades from international critics. She was chosen by the Soviet Union's communist government to represent the country at various film festivals across the world. In 1969, Savelyeva was sent to the Academy Awards ceremony in Hollywood to represent "War and Peace" (1967) which won the 1969 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. A few days later, when Savelyeva brought the Oscar back to Moscow, she was met by members of the Soviet government who took the Oscar away from the filmmakers.
After co-starring in a few less successful movies, Savelyeva disappeared from public view during the 90s. She re-emerged after a ten-year hiatus appearing in "Tender Age" (2000) and later appeared in "Anna Karenina" (2009 TV mini-series).
Outside of her acting career, Lyudmila Savelyeva is known as a collector of rare books, having amassed a significant private library. She has been married to fellow actor Aleksandr Zbruyev, and the couple is living in Moscow, Russia.


Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Vladimir Mishukov's Photos of Zviagnitsev's 'Elena' at the Moscow Photobiennale

Vladimir Mishukov's Photos of Zviagnitsev's 'Elena' at the Moscow Photobiennale:


Having missed the photoexhibition at the Moscow Photo-biennale of the photographs of Sokurov's 'Russian Art', I made sure that the Mishukov exhibition on Zviagintsev's 'Elena' was something that wouldn't be missed. The Mishukov photos are something more than a mere record of the shooting of the film 'Elena' and have an artistic power to them in their own right. Mishukov managed to take his photographs at those moments of rest and preparation but some of the photographs of the leading characters capture some simply splendid moments and they give themselves to new readings that may or may not have been in the film. One of the really fascinating exhibitions of the Moscow Photobiennale.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Sergey Ursuliak: Long Farewell - Долгое прощание (2004)

Director: Sergei Ursulyak
Writers: Yuri Trifonov (novel), Sergei Ursulyak,
Stars: Polina Agureyeva, Andrei Schchennikov, Boris Kamorzin

Awards :
Best actress Polina AGREYEVA , Open Russian Film Festival Kinotavr, Russia, 2004
Best actress Polina AGREYEVA , Annual award of the Guild of Historians of Cinema and Film Critics, Russia, 2004
Best Actor in a Supporting Role Boris KAMORZIN , Annual award of the Guild of Historians of Cinema and Film Critics, Russia, 2004
Prize Miron CHERNEKO Sergey URSULIAK , Annual award of the Guild of Historians of Cinema and Film Critics, Russia, 2004
Best directing Festival Russian kino 'Moscow Premier Screenings', Russia, 2004
Best actress Polina AGREYEVA , Festival Russian kino 'Moscow Premier Screenings', Russia, 2004

Sergei Ursuliak (1958- ) describes himself as a “retro-director” [retro-rezhisser]. Indeed, his earlier work—of which the best-known are Russian Ragtime [Russkii regtaim, 1993], Summer People [Letnie liudi, 1995], Composition for Victory Day [Sochinenie ko Dniu Pobedy, 1998]—repeatedly turns to the thematics of the era gone by. A graduate of Moscow’s prestigious Shchukin Theatrical Institute (1975-79), where he studied acting with Evgenii Simonov, Ursuliak became affiliated with the Satirikon theatre for more than a decade (1979-91), then turned away from acting to begin the profession that—in retrospect—he had always wanted to pursue.

This biographical detail oddly replicates a core concern of Ursuliak’s most recent film, the melodrama Long Farewell, based on Iurii Trifonov’s 1971 novella, the third of the latter’s Moscow trilogy. The patterns and aspirations of human experience over a lifetime, their inaccessibility and resistance to preliminary stocktaking, if I may cite another of Trifonov’s titles [1], leave the characters of both the writer’s novellas and Ursuliak’s film in a state of permanent suspension.

A young actress at the Moscow Drama Theatre, Lialia Telepneva (Polina Agureeva), makes a career for herself that leads to a love triangle involving her common-law husband—the intelligent, but unproductive historian-writer Grisha Rebrov (Andrei Shchennikov)—and a mediocre, but increasingly successful, older playwright Nikolai Smolianov (Boris Kamorzin). For the viewer unfamiliar with Trifonov’s work, it would appear at first as if this were Telepneva’s story. As the film develops, it increasingly becomes the story of Grisha Rebrov’s emancipation. And finally it becomes—“all along,” as it were—a story about the unreliability of any preliminary appraisals in life. [2] Lialia breaks off her relationship with the playwright Smolianov; Grisha leaves her (and Moscow) for a new life, and a disjuncture of twenty-odd years finds them passing in the street without recognizing each other. [3] By now, Lialia—Liudmila Petrovna—has been forcibly retired from the theatre; she is a middle-aged ex-actress with a husband and son. Her life resembles that of her mother, Irina Ignat'evna, with its queues, domestic gossip, and materialistic pragmatism. Grisha Rebrov has become a successful scriptwriter, a fate that in some respects echoes one stage of Trifonov’s own career. [4] Life had rendered this couple unrecognizable to each other, or perhaps they had never recognized each other from the outset.

In this respect, Ursuliak aptly captures Trifonov’s interest in change both through time and through layers of psychological depth, these two categories being consistently interwoven in Trifonov’s work. Ursuliak likewise shares Trifonov’s curiosity about the ways in which—organically, without any discernible change—humans and the sites they inhabit are inevitably rendered foreign to the eye. The city of Moscow, in this manner, becomes a global metaphor for the human psyche over time: where, in earlier years, a rich variety of dahlias were tended in greenhouses, advanced pragmatism dictates that high-rise apartment buildings will be planted. As in Trifonov’s work, Ursuliak’s film is uninterested in the political events of his 1952 setting. [5] Their common focus instead is the flow of time. For this task, Lialia and Grisha are a perfect couple: she has an extended, live-in family, but no history; Grisha has no one left in the world, yet he is a historian, moreover, a historian with a deep and nuanced memory of his own family history. Accused by his rival Smolianov of having no roots [pochva], Grisha refutes this implicit ethnic slur with his own civic account of pre-revolutionary and revolutionary roots: a Polish grandmother exiled to Siberia; a serf great-grandfather; a St. Petersburg music teacher; a young rebel-student, expelled from the tsarist-era university for political activities; a kantonist [6]; a Civil War veteran, and so forth—an honorable catalogue of resistance to imperial rule.

Reviewed by Nancy Condee©2005 in KinoKultura

Friday, 20 April 2012

Russia in Tribeca Film Fest

A Russian film maker, Alexei Fedorchenko, has flown to New York, where the international 2012 Tribeca Film Festival opened on April 18th . He wants to present his new work to the New York audience.

Fedorchenko has already taken part in the world film forums. Moreover, his films, including the mystic film “Pervye na lune” (“First on the Moon”) and the ethno-psychological drama “Ovsyanki” (“Silent Souls”) were awarded medals at the Venice Film Festival. To become a participant of the Tribeca Film Festival, the Russian film director had to pass a serious contest regarding the selection of ideas. The organizers, after they decided to draw up a special project - an international almanac - sent a certain concept to many film directors in many countries. Although the concept was that of hooliganism and extravagance, it served as an attraction for film makers, Alexei Fedorchenko said in an interview with the Voice of Russia several minutes before flying to New York.

"The authors of the above-mentioned concept have put forward about 30 proposals, and some of them were very funny. For example, one character is named Mickey Mouse, and another one wears shoes for step dancing. And one more thing here. In accordance with this concept, the main character should lack one tooth. All these clauses are funny but they give boost to your fantasy," Alexei Fedorchenko says.

Thus, having used his fantasy - extraordinary at times, judging by his former works - in full measure, Alexei won the contest! By the way, American Harmony Korine and a film maker from Poland, Jan Kwiecinski, have also become the participants of the international almanac “The Fourth Dimension”. They both have presented their 30 to 40-minute short stories. Fedorchenko’s short story is titled “Khronoglaz”.

"This is a short story about a scientist who has invented a time machine - the so-called “eye of the time”, or “khronoglaz”. Besides, there is a love story there – the personal love story of that scientist."

Fedorchenko shows us an evident looser who is trying to find a day in his past when he was happy but his attempt proves a failure.

In this year’s programme of the Tribeca Film Festival Alexei Fedorchenko is the only Russian taking part. There is one more film - “Russian Winter” that was made by a Swedish film maker, Petter Ringbom. It is about the concert tour of the well-known American singer John Forte in Russia.

The Tribeca Film Festival came into being 11 years ago, and over the past 11 years Russian film makers have never been the winners. However, Russian film goers show a great deal of interest in the Tribeca Film Festival – the festival of author’s cinema – that was established by the prominent Hollywood actor and film director Robert De Niro in commemoration of the September tragedy of 2001 in New York. The almanac “The Fourth Dimension” will be shown at the Moscow International Film Festival this summer. ...

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Internet gives Russian cinema a bigger audience

April 2012 marked the third time that the Double Dv@ Internet Film Festival, organized by Rossiyskaya Gazeta, has given first-time film directors a chance to make a name for themselves. Eight debut features by Russian directors will be available online on the Rossiyskaya Gazeta website from April 11 to 18. Each day of the festival will focus on a new film, which will appear on the site at 3 p.m. Moscow time (7 a.m., U.S. East Coast) and will be available for viewing for 48 hours. The online audience will be able to rate the films on a scale of one to 10 and share their opinions directly with the filmmakers.

According to the festival’s organizer, Rossiyskaya Gazeta film critic Valery Kichin, more than 70 directors have made their debuts in the festival over the past two years, yet many pictures have gone unnoticed.

This is not a new trend: many of the films produced during the post-Soviet era have not received the publicity they deserved. The main reason for this failure is that distributors were not sure that independent films of this kind would generate profits. As a result, few prints of the films were made and these were shown only in Moscow.

“When large distributors gave up on us, we became more audacious,” said Sergei Loba, director of “Shapito-show,” which is taking part in the competition program of Double Dv@.

“We issued 50 copies and earned more than $1 million. If we have two or three experiments of this kind, our distribution system will become more flexible. We are working on the idea of funding from individual donors, anticipating our cinema possibly finding itself in a severe crisis. Independent authors need this festival very badly in order to build up their popularity. They need to make use of any chance they have to communicate with the viewer, using any channel possible.”

This year’s Double Dv@ debuts come from directors of different generations. In addition to the competition program, which shows films made by up-and-coming directors, this year’s festival featured the debut films of such great Russian directors as Andrei Konchalovsky, Vladimir Menshov, Sergei Solovyov and Karen Shakhnazarov.

“We are making films for our viewers – there is no other way for us. The main problem for Russian cinema is currently not the viewer, but the lack of cinemas – an independent film has no chance of getting into the cinema. There are almost no cinemas willing to show non-blockbusters,” said Sergei Oldenburg-Svintsov, director of the film “Golubka,” which was shown in the competition program. “However, viewers have been changing for the better owing to the Internet. There are movie blogs, film discussions… People listen to what others have to say. Some Russian viewers told me that they saw “Golubka” after their British friends advertised the film. It turned out that they showed my film in the UK with English subtitles. I knew nothing about it.”

In the 1990s, the few movie theaters that were still operating in Russia were empty, but Russia is currently one of the key markets for many film distributors. “I guess the main reason is that people are becoming sincere and sensitive, they need someone to talk to, they are tired of the lies on TV – so, as soon as directors started making films suiting their mood, people went back to the cinema. This Internet festival is exceptionally important for development of young cinema,” said actor Alexander Korshunov.

People are hardly likely to trade the big screen for isolated viewing on their desktops, yet Internet exhibitions and live Internet shows make it clear that young Russian cinema needs to develop new platforms in order to survive. ...

Russian film to be screened at Tribeca Film Fest

The film Chronoeye by Russian director Alexey Fedorchenko is part of the program of the Tribeca Film Festival which is opening in New York on Wednesday.

Chronoeye is the story of a Russian time traveler whose expectations for seeing the past stifle his ability to live in the present.

Among 89 films on the program is The Russian Winter by Swedish director Petter Ringbom, which chronicles a concert tour of Russia made by American singer John Forte after he served a 7-year sentence in prison for storing drugs.

The Tribeca Film Festival which was founded in 2002 by actor and director Robert De Niro to stimulate the recovery of Manhattan after the 9/11 attacks has acquired widespread popularity and become an annual event of particular significance on the world cultural calendar. TASS

Monday, 16 April 2012

Lenfilm on the rocks

Cinema has a prominent place in Russian history. As icons and frescoes communicated stories and lessons of the Orthodox Church to largely illiterate worshippers before the revolution, so film presented the ideology of the Soviet government to its citizens as the new technology was harnessed for the purposes of political propaganda.

At the core of the rising art form were the storied film studios Lenfilm and its slightly younger Muscovite brother, Mosfilm. Lenfilm – founded on the basis of pre-revolutionary studios in Petrograd in 1918, finally adopting its current name in 1934 – is now facing its most difficult period, on the edge of financial collapse. Its governing body, the social council, says 2 billion rubles ($136 million) are needed to put the state-controlled studio back on its feet. While rescue plans are under discussion, the debates are taking a sharp tone as struggles between creativity and profitability grow more acrid.

“These rooms were all occupied back in the studio’s heyday,” a Lenfilm spokeswoman said, walking past empty offices. “The crew of each film had its own room, a workplace for a director and his team.”

The greatness and genius of old Russian and Soviet cinema is still felt at Lenfilm, with its old-fashioned interior and dedicated people.

“If you had come here before everything started to fall apart, things would be humming,” film director Vyacheslav Sorokin said. “There would have been a lot of actors, crew, and directors here.”

The studio’s financial decline, however, has led to the departure of many artists and crew, either to private film companies or to other careers. Having produced many famous, award-winning films such as “Chapayev” and “The Amphibian Man,” and the 1980s television series “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson,” Lenfilm now has four projects on hold due to lack of personnel and a lack of money to pay them. Controversial plans Plans to revive Lenfilm are not lacking, but instead of yielding positive results, they have simply caused more controversy. Studio veterans have greeted the prospect of a public-private partnership with suspicion, since they fear private financing would mean moving the soundstages outside the city and incorporating Lenfilm inside a larger private production company.

Members of the social council, including Sorokin, the director Alexei German, Sr., and the screenwriter Svetlana Karmalita, among others, consider that the only interest of potential investors is the valuable land the studio occupies in the center of St. Petersburg, nearly 3 hectares.

The investment company Sistema is among those who have offered their assistance, but unsuccessfully, due to opposition from the council. Sistema declined to comment, but a source familiar with the discussions told The Moscow News that the company is waiting to see what develops, and has not ruled out the possibility of future participation in the project. For Sistema and other potential investors, only a combination of private and state funding can rescue the studio. ...

Friday, 13 April 2012

Kira Muratova: Passions - Увлеченья (1994)

Director: Kira Muratova
Stars: Svetlana Kolenda, Renata Litvinova, A. Skarga

Selected in the following festivals :
- Odessa International Film Festival, Odessa (Ukraine), 2010
- Moscow International Film Festival (MIFF), Moscow (Russia), 2009
- Berlin International Film Festival : Berlinale, Berlin (Germany), 1994

The blonde’s name is Lilia, the brunette’s – Violetta. The girls are fascinated by the horse races. Young racers are attracted to the girls. Sporting intrigues interlace with love affairs. Horses are taking the racers to the finish, and the winner gets it all… The precisely depicted atmosphere of horse races and a whole world of bizarre, touching, idiosyncratic characters are unveiled in one of the best films directed by Kira Muratova, which became classics of the European cinematography. After its premiere in February 1994, “Passions” have received critic and public acclaim at many European film festivals.
The film was awarded with Jury Prize and Critics Prize at Kinotavr (Russia), and with two Nikas (Russian Cinema Academy Prize) – “for the best director” and “as the best of the year”. ...

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Tarkovsky exhibition opens in Moscow

A large-scale exhibition dedicated to life and work of Russian filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky is opening in Moscow today.

Being held for the first time ever, the Tarkovsky exhibition is timed for the 80th anniversary of his birth and features an impressive collection of books, photos, sketches and posters. Visitors will also see all films by Andrei Tarkovsky, recordings of theatrical productions directed by him, and videos.

Andrei Tarkovsky died in 1986 at the age of 54.

His first feature film – Ivan’s Childhood – earned Tarkovsky international acclaim and won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival in 1962.

The Tarkovsky exhibition will be open until May 20th .


Tuesday, 10 April 2012

"Women's Stories"

Two Russian films have won the National Film Award for 2011 (April 8th). Both of them are dedicated to the fates of two women: one of them is a historical drama, and the other one is a family drama.
“Zhyla-byla odna baba” (“Once  Upon a Time  There Lived a Woman”)  is the work of a well-known film director Andrei Smirnov and the other one is the film  of Andrei Zvyagintsev “Yelena”.    
Andrei Smirnov says that his film is meant for the Russian audience. That is why he did not present it to international film forums. I did not want it to take part in the contest for the Nika award either, Andrei Smirnov says. However, taking into account the results of secret voting, we should mention here that nearly 700 members of the National Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences of Russia that chooses the best works for the Nika award praised Smirnov’s creation, which received prizes in 6 nominations!
The film director addresses a very serious historical theme that has not been shown properly in former Russian films: the resistance of the Russian peasants to the power of Bolsheviks in the 20s of the last century and peasants’ riots. In the Soviet-era times this was a taboo. .  “As regards the plot, I made my choice when it became clear that censorship had become abolished”, Andrei Smirnov says.
"The idea came into being in 1987, and in 1990 I began writing a script, which I did with long breaks, Smirnov says. While I was engaged in scriptwriting, the Russian cinema was undergoing changes. Thus, I understood that the audience had changed too. New filmgoers were brought up by Hollywood. When my film was still in the making, I understood that the main character should be a woman. An ordinary Russian woman who had survived the nightmare of both the civil war and the social perturbations that followed."
The second winner of the Nika prize is the film “Yelena” by Andrei Zvyagintsev. Last year the jury awarded it a special prize at the film festival in Cannes. It received other awards too.
… A simple story of today: a former nurse decides to kill her husband, who is a rich businessman so that her idling children from the former marriage would be able to inherit what her husband would leave her. Zvyagintsev is turning a simple story of today into a universal tragedy. It seems to me that the ideas of humanism are gradually disappearing from our life.
The Voice of Russia

Monday, 9 April 2012

NIKAs awarded in Moscow

A film by Andrei Smirnov "There Once Was a Country Woman or ‘Broad’”, has received the best Russian film award for 2011 at the NIKA Awards held in Moscow.

Smirnov, who wrote the screenplay for his film, won the award for Best Scenario.

The award for best director of the year was won by Andrei Zvyagintsev, who directed the film “Helen”.

In the category Best Actress two actresses won the award: Nadezhda Markina, who played in “Helen”, and Daria Ekamasova, for her role in "Once There Was a Country Woman."

In the category, Best Actor, the winner was Sergei Garmash, who starred in the movie “House”.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Russia chooses its better films - Once Upon a Time There Lived a Woman by Smirnov won the main prize

Once Upon a Time There Lived a Woman by  Smirnov won the main prize - for best feature film 

Actress Helen Liadov,  the winner as "Best Actress" for the film "Helen"  

A ceremony of awarding the Russian prize in cinematography “Nika” is currently taking place in Moscow.

In his address to the ceremony’s participants and guests, Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev said that the “Nika” award is believed to be very prestigious among filmmakers of the former Soviet states. He believes that such prizes stir the production of high-quality films.

This year, 5 films are nominated for the “Nika” award – “Vysotsky: Thank God I am Alive” by Pyotr Buslov, “Siberia Mon Amour” by Vyacheslav Ross, “Helen” by Andrey Zvyagintsev, “Chapiteau Show” by Sergey Loban and “There Lived a Woman” by Andrey Smirnov. ...

Friday, 6 April 2012

Stories from behind the scenes of Tarkovsky’s films

Stories from behind the scenes of Tarkovsky’s films:
Moviegoers often have no idea how much pain and effort a single scene can take. Here, some insight into the most incredible shots from Andrei Tarkovsky’s films

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Tarkovsky: visualization of soul

“To me, filmmaking has always been a moral occupation rather than a trade,” the outstanding Russian film director Andrei Tarkovsky used to say. He would have turned 80 on April 8.

 “Discovering Tarkovsky was like a miracle,” the acclaimed Swedish moviemaker Ingmar Bergman wrote later. “I sort of found myself standing before a locked door of a room I had been dreaming to enter but had no key to it, while he could move in and around quite easily”. Bergman was not alone in admiring Tarkovsky, who, sadly enough, gained more recognition in the West than at home, something that has happened all too often in Russian culture.

Each of Tarkovsky’s films starting from his debut work “Ivan’s Childhood”, a deeply moving tale of a boy confronted by the harsh realities of war, to his last film “The Sacrifice” – won prestigious international awards, often more than one at a time, including a Golden Lion in Venice and a Silver Palm in Cannes.

Tarkovsky’s heritage numbers seven full-length films, among them the historical and religious drama “Andrei Rublyov”, the philosophical sci-fi movie “Solaris” and the autobiographical fantasy “Mirror”. It could have been larger had not his life been cut short at the age of 54 and had he received support and understanding when he was in his prime instead of being ostracized and hunted by the Soviet cultural bureaucracy.

"In each of his films, he stayed true to himself in spite of the incredible difficulties he had to endure and the ideological pressure he came under over each of his films made in the Soviet Union. He was a combatant artist who stood up for his art, says Tarkovsky’s sister Maria, a philologist and a writer."

“A daring talent” – that’s what film director Andrei Konchalovsky, a long-time friend of Tarkovsky’s and co-author of scripts for some of his films, said about him.

"Tarkovsky became a household name as soon as he appeared: provocative, sharp, irreconcilable, uncompromising, and so on and so forth. Andrei’s very first film “Ivan’s Childhood” was a revelation. People throughout the world began looking upon him as a pioneer of a new directing style."

Tarkovsky’s style strikingly expressive, yet profoundly lyrical style combines the hypnotic expressiveness of classical painting, music and poetry masterfully woven into the cinematic canvas. In most of his films we can hear poems written by his father Arseny Tarkovsky. “That was more than cinema,” film director Pavel Lungin remarks. ...

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Andrei Kudinenko: The Joke aka The Prank - Розыгрыш (2008)

Director: Andrei Kudinenko
Writer: Aleksandr Kachan
Stars: Ivan Alekseev, Yevgeni Dmitriyev, Dmitriy Dyuzhev

Selected in the following festivals :
- International debut film festival, Khanty Mansiysk (Russia), 2009
- Cinemania : World Film Panorama, Sofia (Bulgaria), 2008
- Russian Film Festival, Riga (Latvia), 2008
- Cinéforum ''Automne de l'Amour'', Blagoveshchensk (Russia), 2008
- Open Russian Film Festival Kinotavr, Sochi (Russia), 2008
- Russian Film Week in New York, New York (USA), 2008

A remake of Vladimir Men'shov's popular comedy from 1977 of the same title, Andrei Kudinenko's film offers an interesting update on the theme of social relations in the Russian classroom. Unlike its Soviet predecessor, however, the contemporary version of  The Joke spares few clichés in its attempt to prove that Russia can also work within the John Hughes-inspired genre of teen melodramedy. Like other examples of the genre—Pretty in Pink (1986), Can't Buy Me Love (1987), Heathers (1990), Mean Girls (2004), etc. —The Joke draws on a number of familiar character types. To provide a laundry list: Here, we have the rich preppy (Oleg Komarov) and his yes-man (Korbut), the mean girl and her entourage (Tania, Alisa and Ekaterina), the dumb jock (Andrei), the smart, poor girl (Taia), the nerd who wants to be popular (Gera), the authoritarian dad (Komarov's father), the meek teacher (Vera Ivanovna), and of course, the new kid (Igor Glushko). With these ingredients, we need only cook it up in the traditional manner—public humiliation, a love triangle, consumerism, suicide attempt, the triumph of right over wrong and the final reconciliation via the school dance.

Set in an “ordinary Moscow school,” the beginning of  The Joke finds the reputation and social position of the handsome and popular Oleg (Evgenii Dmitriev) in jeopardy. Arriving to his English class late, the new teacher Vera Ivanovna (Iana Esipovich) assigns Oleg a “troika” after he botches an attempt to tell the class what he wants to do after graduation. Oleg is the son of a wealthy businessman who donates money to the school, and expects preferential treatment. To add insult to injury, he is outdone by Igor' (played by Russian hip hop artist, Noize MC), a new student from the Siberian village of Karymkary, who flawlessly talks about his hobbies (books and music) in English, and delights the class and Vera Ivanovna with some freestyle rhymes. ...

Reviewed by Joshua First © 2009 in KinoKultura