Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Mirror Film Festival: commemorating Andrei Tarkovsky

The 6th International Mirror film festival dedicated to the prominent Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky will be under way in his native Ivanovo region from May 29 to June 3.

 This year’s festival is marking the 80th anniversary of the grand film maker, the 50th anniversary of his legendary Ivan’s Childhood movie and 40th anniversary of his 1972 Cannes-winning Solaris. According to polls, Solaris is still among the world’s top fantasy films.

This anniversary year requires special events so the organizers of the festival attempted to invite all film makers somehow related to Tarkovsky and his legacy, says the head of the festival, a film reviewer Andrey Plahkov. The organizers invited Turkey’s Nuri Ceylan, Mexico’s Carlos Reygadas and Russia’s Alexander Sokurov and Andrey Zvyagintsev. These directors are still loyal to art house cinema amid mass film industry. Andrey Plakhov promised an extensive program this year

"This year’s festival will be culturally and cinematically diverse. This is done to feel the energy of contemporary cinema that was largely based on Tarkovsky’s works. We are having a special “In the Context of Tarkovsky” program featuring films somehow linked to the director -earlier we showed his favorite films, movies of his time and world classics. But we are running out of such films and thus wanted to include works by contemporary masters that were interrelated with Tarkovsky’s legacy."

The abovementioned directors agree that Tarkovsky has played a big role in their creative development and his influence can be seen in their films-they are not imitations but creative interpretations of Tarkovsky’s legacy, a kind of tribute to the director.

The main competition will feature movies from Europe, Asia, South and North America, says Andrei Plakhov.

"We put a special accent on Latin America selecting movies from Brazil, Chile and Argentine, as it’s a very vibrant region. We also focused on South East Asia as Tarkovsky loved the Asian culture and was closely tied with it throughout his life."

Russia is represented by Sergey Loznitsa’s In the Fog that has recently been awarded with the FIPRESCI prize in Cannes.

All participants will also enjoy picturesque Ivanono landscapes as for the first time they will be staying in the city of Plyos –a beautiful Volga town that was frequented by artists and creative people since 19th century.


Vladimir Mirzoev: Boris Godunov -Борис Годунов (2011) , trailer

Boris Godunov (2011)

Director: Vladimir Mirzoev
Screenplay: Vladimir Mirzoev (based on the play by Aleksandr Pushkin)
Cast: Maksim Sukhanov, Mikhail Kozakov, Andrei Merzlikin, Leonid Gromov

Awards: Special Prize, “Annual Award of the Guild of Historians of Cinema and Film Critics,” Russia, 2011

Selected in the following festivals
- International Film Festival Tarkovski, Ivanovo (Russia), 2012
- Russian film festival in Sweden 'KinoRiurik', Stockholm (Sweden), 2012
- Russian film symposium. University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh (USA), 2012
- Annual award of the Guild of Historians of Cinema and Film Critics, Moscow (Russia), 2011
- Cinéforum ''Automne de l'Amour'', Blagoveshchensk (Russia), 2011
- Window to Europe Film Festival, Vyborg, Vyborg (Russia), 2011

Dealing with classics always requires a delicate balancing act by a director, as it is one of the easiest and, at the same time, most challenging ways to draw attention and criticism. This is especially true if the title is “Boris Godunov,” since the film cannot avoid comparisons to previous texts―Pushkin’s drama and Musorgskii’s opera―both staged hundreds of times―and Sergei Bondarchuk’s film (1986), which became a Soviet classic.
Mirzoev’s film, however, draws a clear distinction amongst these texts and traditions. He has brought the tragedy into a contemporary setting while retaining the original script. The film begins with scenes of modern details: political figures in business suits, Shuiskii talking in a Mercedes, Pushkin making an announcement on TV, and committee members meeting against the backdrop of glittering skyscrapers. Sometimes, though, the contemporary setting evokes anachronistic awkwardness, for example, an illiterate soldier reading text messages on an iphone. While such scenes produce discordant effects between the lines of the past and the modern setting, they also offer a new texture to the traditional text.
Indeed, this device in adapting classics began decades ago and the use of a contemporary setting has already become a cliché marker of the postmodern. What more can be done with classics that the audience knows by heart?

Boris Godunov (2011)

Yet Boris Godunov can be viewed from a different perspective. Pushkin’s original play has been staged mostly in traditional costumes and in its historical setting. Mirzoev’s film successfully manages a delicate balancing act, fully negotiating the boundary between past and present, making a significant impact on the history of adaptation―not only of Boris Godunov but of classics as a whole. It diverges completely from the adaptation style of Soviet films and recent television serials in Russia that reproduce the epic past with luxurious historical props or a sequence of plot clichés with elaborate or shocking stylization.
Many critics have interpreted the modern setting of Boris Godunov as a political satire, drawing parallels between the film and the current political situation in Russia. Dealing with plots of dictatorship and political intrigues, the film can be easily pigeon-holed as a parody. The director, however, strongly rejects any interpretation of his work as a satire or allegory. Moreover, Pushkin’s original text had no intention to be a satire.
More here.

Monday, 28 May 2012

In the Fog Wins Prize of FIPRESCI in Cannes

Sergei Loznitsa’s film "In the Fog" took a prize of the International Federation of Film Critics in the main competition at the 65th Cannes Film Festival.

It is the second prize for Russia at the festival: Taisia Igumentseva's short length film "Road To" was awarded in the Cinefondation program.

The feature film "In the Fog" is the only Russian-language film of the main competition of the Cannes Film Festival. The film based on Vasil Bykov’s war story and shot in coproduction with Germany, Latvia, and Belarus is set in Belarus occupied by Germans in 1942.

At the awarding ceremony the film director Sergei Loznitsa thanked the jury and his film crew and mentioned that his new film is an experiment with language and form, which is no less important for him than the content. RIC

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Russian war drama covers Cannes with Fog

Film buffs on the glamorous French Riviera have finally found themselves in the thick of action set during WWII, orchestrated by Russian director Sergey Loznitsa, whose dark latest feature is a hot candidate for the coveted Golden Palm.

The film, based on a novel by Vasil Bykov, had its world premiere at the world's most prestigious film festival, which will close on May 27.

In The Fog is Loznitsa's uncompromising reflection on human nature, and more specifically, the Russian mentality.

Set in 1942, when much of the Soviet Union struggled under German occupation, the drama revolves around a pair of partisans, Burov and Voitik, eager to get revenge for a group of comrades arrested and executed by the Germans. They don't doubt that the only man who could possibly give the partisans away is Sushenya, a rail worker. He was also arrested, but for some reason the Germans decide to set Sushenya free. Sushenya’s treason looks evident to all, including his own wife.

There's a line in Apocalypse Now that goes, “Horror has a face. You need to make friends with horror.” In Loznitsa's film, however, horror seems to have no face whatsoever. The film's director disagrees.

“The main character has got a face. He has no place in the world, though.” Loznitsa told RT that he had wanted to make In the Fog for ten years. But it proved to be difficult to find funding for a film set during the war. The producers Loznitsa turned to didn't think In the Fog had potential.

“The producers asked me, 'who is going to watch a film set during the war?' But I was deeply touched by the novel. I thought there was something special about the story,” Loznitsa said.

The award-winning filmmaker initially made a name for himself as the creator of numerous documentaries.

Born in the former Soviet Republic of Belarus, Loznitsa grew up in the Ukrainian capital Kiev, where he majored in engineering and mathematics. Having moved to Moscow, he embarked on his second profession, that of filmmaker, which he studied at VGIK. ...

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Yuri Korolev: Slove / The Soldier - Slove. Прямо в сердце (2011)

Directed by: Yuri Korolev
Starring: Alex Chadov, Andrew Chadov, Glory Chichivarin, Karina Hidekel

Slove, the debut film by writer, producer, and director Iurii Korolev, who for this film’s release is billed by the Nordic-Teutonic moniker Jürgen Staal, is an interesting mélange of international B-movie action clichés in service of a specific reconfiguration of Russian masculinity.

A brief opening sequence shows a tranquil domestic setting, in which three young brothers are huddled on pillows in their living room while they are being trained by a stern father in the art of perseverance and concentration required by long-distance snipers. These brothers are Grisha, Sergei and Aleksei Ronin, who grow up to become soldiers in an elite Border Guard unit. In an intense firefight with Central Asian drug smugglers, Grisha is killed. Having been dismissed for disobeying orders during the skirmish, Sergei becomes a police captain in the St. Petersburg police force. “Zorro,” as Sergei now calls himself, has his own particular rogue way of policing, which does not endear him to his superiors.

On a furlough from his Border Guard unit, Aleksei visits his brother Sergei. He assists his brother in a mission to arrest a second-rate Mexican drugs and casino gangster, who is attempting to muscle into the local market after failing to branch out into US territory. Aleksei attracts the attention of two powerful officers in the Ministry of the Interior, Colonel Savelii Kotov and his high-ranking bespectacled adjutant Ludwig Karlovich Wingen. They offer him a position as a sniper for the Ministry, so that he can continue his job of killing people in the “civilian world” for the sake of justice. Aleksei has doubts because his task would be “too obscure”—there are no clear-cut enemies and he does not consider himself “entitled to determine their fates.” How, he asks the Colonel, would they be “different from the bandits” if he shoots them without trial?

Kotov, however, knows how to manipulate Aleksei’s ethical reservations to his advantage and secretly instigates the release of the Mexican gangster. In the face of such an obvious travesty of justice, Sergei questions his chosen profession and Aleksei changes his mind, now convinced that his services as an assassin for the Ministry are necessary. Aleksei is given a call sign “Slove” (rhymes with “love” and pronounced “Slav”), apparently an invented portmanteau contraction of the English phrase “soldier of love.”

Reviewed by Daniel H. Wild © 2011 in KinoKultura

Friday, 18 May 2012

Movie Review: Elena

Movie Review: Elena - Huffington Post (blog):


Movie Review: Elena
Huffington Post (blog)
Though billed as a Russian film noir, Elena skimps on the noir, and more's the pity. Instead, it's a disciplined, controlled and ultimately disappointing drama of family tension and murder. The crime does not go unpunished, but the punishment seems ...
Pick of the week: A class-war thriller from Putin's RussiaSalon
SIFF 2012: 'Elena' and 'Hemel' [Reviews]Film Equals
'Elena': A Femme Fatale, In The Rubble Of PerestroikaNorth Country Public Radio
Wall Street Journal -GreenCine -ARTINFO
all 11 news articles »

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Top 20 Soviet Films

20. Needle (drama) - Rashid Nugmanov
19. Ballad of a Soldier (war) - Grigori Chukhrai
18. Arsenal (drama) - Alexander Dovzhenko
17. The Color of Pomegranates (avant garde) - Sergei Parajanov
16. Amphibian Man (science fiction) - Vladimir Chebotaryov
15. The Pokrovsky Gate (comedy) - Mikhail Kozakov
14. The Ascent (drama) - Larisa Shepitko
13. Aelita (science fiction) - Yakov Protazanov
12. The Asthenic Syndrome (comedy) - Kira Muratova
11. By the Bluest of Seas (comedy) - Boris Barnet
10. The End of St. Petersburg (drama) - Vsevolod Pudovkin
09. An Unfinished Piece for a Player Piano (romance) - Nikita Mikhalkov
08. Dersu Uzala (drama) - Akira Kurosawa
07. Siberiade (drama) - Andrei Konchalovsky
06. War and Peace (epic) - Sergei Bondarchuk
05. The Cranes Are Flying (drama) - Mikhail Kalatozov
04. Ivan the Terrible (epic) - Sergei Eisenstein
03. Come and See (war) - Elem Klimov
02. Man with a Movie Camera (avant garde) - Dziga Vertov
01. Solaris (science fiction) - Andrei Tarkovsky

Monday, 14 May 2012

Vasily Sigarev: Living - Жить (2012)

Director Vasily Sigarev
Cast Yana Troyanova, Olga Lapshina, Alexei Filimonov, Yevgeny Sity, Anna Ykolova

Awards :
First prize, Festival of Central and Eastern Film , Germany, 2012
FIPRESCI Prize, Festival of Central and Eastern Film , Germany, 2012
Best directing, Open Russian Film Festival Kinotavr, Russia, 2012
Guild of Historians of Cinema and Film Critics Prize, Open Russian Film Festival Kinotavr, Russia, 2012

Three years ago, Vasily Sigarev's debut feature Volchok (Wolfy) won a clutch of festival awards. His follow-up Zhit (Living), which has won the best film and international critics awards at Wiesbaden's goEast festival of central and eastern European films, confirms his emergence as a talent to be reckoned with. Living is in the Russian tradition of high seriousness, its theme the presence of death in life, no less.

Known internationally as a playwright (an early work was produced at London's Royal Court theatre), Sigarev based Wolfy on one of his stage plays. With Living, he starts from cinematic scratch, weaving three stories together, none of them connected though the characters share the same wintry space (a small town in the director's home province of Yekaterinburg, in the Urals).

A man cycles out to a river bank and vanishes, presumed drowned. Artyom (Alexei Filimonov), his young son, longs to see him again. Two young people, post-punk, Grishka (Yana Stoyanova) in white-dyed dreadlocks, Anton (Konstantin Gatsalov) something of a prankster, decide to get married, but after the wedding Anton is savagely beaten up and dies. Galya (Olga Lapshina), a middle-aged woman, is separated from her two daughters who are killed in a road accident as they are being returned to her.

For a film called Living, there's an awful lot of dying going on. Or is there? After the initial devastation, after her railing at the priest who married them - "What's the point of love if we're all going to die anyway?" - the grieving Grishka finds Anton returning to her. At the burial of her daughters, Galya is convinced they are still breathing and returns to the cemetery at night to dig them up. Soon they are supping together around the kitchen table. And by the end of the film, sure enough, Artyom's father is sitting on the landing, waiting for his son to join him. There are moments when Sigarev appears to be flirting with the supernatural visitation genre, but it's clear finally that what interests him is the power of the bereaved to conjure up, at least in their minds, images of the dear departed. The death of those we hold closest is perhaps the greatest trial that we have to bear in life, and what these characters have in common is their struggle to come to terms with their loss.

The film isn't really saying anything new about how we deal with death and audiences may quibble with (or alternatively be impressed by) the overlay of metaphysical brooding, but Sigarev keeps his stories grounded in the realities of provincial life, maintaining our interest until providing catharsis - after a fashion - for his characters.

The harshness of life in today's Russia is presented in the usual bleak terms, though less oppressively than usual, and Sigarev is well served by Alisher Khalidkhodaev's cinematography and an excellent cast.

From Hollywood Reporter

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Alexander Proshkin: Redemption - Искупление (2001) - Trailer

Director: Alexander Proshkin
Writer: Fridrikh Gorenshtein
Stars: Karina Andolenko, Sergei Dontsov, Natalia Gandzyuk

In the West, Aleksandr Proshkin is mainly known for his 1988 hit The Cold Summer of ’53 (Kholodnoe leto 53-ego), the first film to engage with the fate of the Gulag returnees and the wave of crime (real or perceived) that flooded the country following Stalin’s death in March of that year. Characteristic of the new openness of the Gorbachev era, Cold Summer proved to be an eye-opener for many and an exciting film to watch. Rather than having the villains captured by the police, Proshkin decided to assign the role of “good guy” to an ex-convict, a “traitor of the fatherland,” and resolve the conflict in a classical shoot-out. Although it would be inappropriate to speak of a happy ending, the hero’s personal fate still being highly uncertain, the dividing line between good and bad is still easy to distinguish. Called a “Western” on more than one occasion (e.g., Dobson 2009: 1-2), Cold Summer comes close to satisfying our sense of poetic justice.


Set in an anonymous town in the western part of the Ukraine during the winters of 1945 and 1946, Expiation is doubtless a more demanding film, both in terms of plot development and as a statement of Soviet reality in the late 1940s. Many scenes become clear only upon a second viewing and even a denunciation in the style of Pavlik Morozov turns out to be less straightforward than one would expect. In an interview in Moskovskii Komsomolets, Proshkin has explicitly urged his audience not to judge his heroine too harshly, but to duly consider the circumstances under which she was forced to live (Khokhriakova). Indeed, viewers preferring neatly defined categories of “good” and “bad” characters as in Cold Summer, will struggle to make sense of the heroine and her sometimes contradictory behavior.

Expiation opens with a highly symbolic scene that epitomizes the grimness of life in the Soviet Union just after WW II. Using a pair of pincers, a ten-year-old boy cuts bullets in two and throws them into a camp fire where they explode. His little brother assists him, taking delight in the loud bangs. It soon becomes clear that this is more than a reckless pastime of two vagrant children. The older boy melts the bullets’ jackets to cast his own brass knuckles, a vital asset for life on the street. When his younger brother throws a handful of intact bullets into the flames, the result is stray gunfire that makes passers-by intuitively duck. On this occasion, nobody gets hurt, but eventually the young perpetrator is killed in a freak accident when a group of waifs throws an unexploded German bomb into a mine shaft thereby causing a small, but fatal landslide.

Reviewed by Otto Boele © 2012 in KinoKultura

Alexander Sokurov's 'Faust'

Film Review: Alexander Sokurov's 'Faust'

Making its way to UK cinemas eight months on from its Golden Lion win at last year'sVenice Film Festival, Alexander Sokurov's Faust (2011) has lost little of its enigmatic zeal in the interim period. Critical opinion has been somewhat divided on this final chapter in the Russian director's tetralogy (which includes 1999's Moloch, 2000'sTaurus and 2005's The Sun), yet for all its over-ambition and debatable inaccessibility, this unique take on Goethe's classic tale remains one of the most mesmeric, hypnotic cinematic experiences of the last twelve months.

As with Goethe's original text, Sokurov's adaptation centres on the somewhat lowly character of Faust (Johannes Zeiler), a professor and alchemist who craves knowledge, yet finds himself constrained by the limitations of human understanding. It is his own poverty-plagued existence which leads our protagonist to the town's demonic moneylender Mephistopheles (Anton Adasinskiy), a repugnant, overweight creature who quickly agrees to aid Faust in his quest - in exchange for possession of his eternal soul.

From its magnificent opening shot, tearing through the atmosphere to gaze down from the heavens before reappearing inside a human cadaver, Sokurov's latest work demands to be seen writ large on the big screen. The sheer scale of the existentialist subjects at hand can easily overwhelm, and those not 100% willing to follow the modern Russian master in his dreamlike voyage may well find themselves lost and seemingly abandoned within the opening half an hour. However, those willing to dedicate a little time and patience to the painterly Faust will, like the character of Mephistopheles, find themselves richly rewarded. ...

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Vasily Sigarev

Vasily Sigarev by Giuviv Russian Film Blog:

The award of main prize in the Wiesbaden GoEast festival to Vasily Sigarev's second film Жить (Living) comes after Rotterdam's overlooking this rather new and uncomfortable voice in Russian cinema. If some like Sergei Loznitsa have moved from documentary to feature films, Sigarev's move has been from theatre. This is not unique in these times - both Kirill Serebrennikov and Ivan Vyrypaev - have moved from theatre to cinema (although not permanently). Time will tell whether Sigarev will make the move more permanently. Undoubtedly in theatre he established an international reputation: in the UK alone his play Plastiline was produced at the Royal Court and he also won an Evening Standard Thetrae award. An article way back in 2003 in the Guardian already established his reputation as a powerful voice in theatre .

His move into film was not greeted by everyone. In fact a storm of outrage surrounded the award of best film at the Sochi Film Festival for his film Волчок (Wolfy). He was accused of sensationalism and returning Russian cinema to the bad old days of chernuka. It seems as though this director from the Urals ignored this criticism and according to Novaya Gazeta's film critic Larisa Maliukova has only increased the doses of radical defiance of convention present in his first film Wolfy itself offers a harsh blow to the viewer uncompromising in its bleak portrayal of the absolute indifference of a mother for her child. Whether as Lipovetsky and Beumers argue that this film reproduces patriarchal forms of thought through its sense of horror of female freedom (and freedom as such) or that the film should be read in some other way (as a discourse on the loss and acquisition of innocence as Zara Abdullaeva does) it remains one of the most striking films of the last few years.

Sigarev's new film has also divided critics fiercely. While the president of the Wiesbaden jury Cristi Puiu (the director of 'The Death of Mr Lazarescu')  stated that the film was not just a film but a personal experience, another member of the jury was said to have declared that he or she was ready to give the award to any film of the festival other than to Sigarev's film. This divided opinion between fierce support and fierce antagonism but no indifference is indicative of reactions to Sigarev's work. Hopefully, though, Sigarev will be one of the voices that will become more known to a wider cinema going audience outside of Russia in coming years so that viewers can see for themselves. The accusations of being a pale imitation of Von Trier's work  as well as a narrowly 'sociological' reading of the films may not die away as yet but it seems that Sigarev has proved other critics wrong in their misreading of his powerful works.

Sergei Loznitsa: In The Fog - В тумане (2012)


Director: Sergei Loznitsa
Writers: Vasili Bykov (novel), Sergei Loznitsa (adaptation)
Stars: Vladimir Svirskiy, Vladislav Abashin, Sergei Kolesov

German-occupied Belarus, circa 1942. Four railway workers are accused of sabotaging the tracks. Three are hanged; one is released to his family. Sushchenia, the freed man, finds his liberty illusory. His neighbors despise him as a supposed collaborator; even his beloved wife Anelia thinks her life would have been better had he joined his comrades on the gallows. At least he would be remembered as a hero. Two partisans, Burov and Voitik, come to the Sushchenia home to exact retribution for the unlucky man’s alleged crime. The three go off into the forest, Sushchenia with shovel in hand. After he has dug his own grave, Sushchenia faces Burov, a childhood friend, to be shot. Burov hesitates. In that second, native polizei come upon them, and it is Burov who is shot, while Sushchenia makes a getaway. But Sushchenia returns to help the wounded Burov. While Voitik is away looking for a wagon to transport Burov, Burov dies, yet Sushchenia doggedly stays beside him, to Voitik’s astonishment. Carrying Burov’s body on his back like a cross, Sushchenia and Voitik attempt to reach the partisan unit, when polizei ambush them. Voitik is killed. Alone and in despair over his fate, Sushchenia commits suicide.
Reviewed by Denise J. Youngblood © 2013 in KinoKultura

The talent: Amid a sea of unfamiliar actors -- some of them Russian workhorses, but many of them first-timers -- two names stand out, though both of them are in supporting roles. Romanian actor Vlad Ivanov made a striking impression (and scooped an LA Critics' award) as the surly abortionist in "4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days"; veteran Russian actress Nadezhda Markina's stunning turn in the title role of "Elena" earned a European Film Award nod last year, and will hit US screens next week.

As on his last film (and first narrative feature) "My Joy," Loznitsa wrote the script, while that film's editor Danielius Kokanauskis, production designer Kirill Shuvalov and cinematographer Oleg Mutu are all on board. Mutu, in particular, is a name to note: he's been a key figure in the recent Romanian new wave, having shot "The Death of Mr. Lazarescu," "4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days" (which he also produced) and "Tales From the Golden Age." This is one of two Competition credits for him this year: he also lensed Cristian Mungiu's latest, "Beyond the Hills."

The pitch: Two years ago, celebrated documentarian Loznitsa's fiction debut "My Joy" proved one of the delayed critical successes of the lineup: consensus was slow to emerge, and no prizes were forthcoming, but a number of estimable English-speaking eventually latched onto his brooding, free-form vision of human corruption and barbarism in contemporary Russia. International distributors didn't rush to it (it finally hit US screens last autumn), while the Russian media accused it of Russophobia. His follow-up sounds, on paper, an easier sell. Picking up on the World War II flashbacks of his last film, "In the Fog" is a full-scale WWII drama set in the German-occupied Western frontier of the USSR. After a train is derailed by resistance fighter, innocent rail worker Sushenya is arrested by German officers, only to be set free -- prompting suspicions of treason among his compatriots. Sounds robustly classical enough, with arthouse-crossover potential -- but perhaps Loznitsa has a more radical treatment up his sleeve.

More here.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Countdown To Cannes: Loznitsa


Background: Ukrainian; born in Baranovitchi, Belarus 1964.
Known for / style: My Joy; a career that has primarily (until recently), consisted of documentaries; director of the first Ukrainian film to debut in Competition; extremely long takes with minimal cutting
Film he’s bringing to CannesV tumane (In the Fog), a Russian-language period drama that takes place in 1942, on the German-occupied frontiers of the Western USSR. Sushenya (newcomer Vladimir Svirski) is wrongly accused of collaboration, and in order to save his dignity, he must resolve a difficult moral quandary. The largely-unknown cast also includes Vlad Ivanov, who was in Cristian Mungiu’s Palme-winning 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days.

Notable accolades: The majority of Loznitsa’s awards are from his documentary work. Loznitsa is a 
three-time winner of Leipzig DOK’s Silver Dove (2002’sPortrait and The Settlement; 2000’s The Halt), and has won Cracow’s Golden Horn (2008’s Revue) and Golden Dragon (2006’s Blockade). Loznitsa’s fictional debut, 2010’s My Joy, won top prize at two small Eastern-European film festivals.

Previous Cannes appearances: 2010’s My Joy was Loznitsa’s first film at the Festival, playing in Competition. It was the first-ever Ukrainian film to debut in Competition.

        Sergei Loznitsa, by Ray Pride.

Could it win the Palme? In the Fog is Loznitsa’s second narrative film, but at this point his golden prospects aren’t great. My Joy’s reception at the 2010 Festival was decent at best, falling off the awards radar almost instantly. And while Loznitsa is an accomplished documentarian, fiction-features are a different beast entirely. Therefore, in order for Loznitsa to win the hearts of the international press (and solidify his new career as a fiction director), In the Fog has a lot of catching up to do. Luckily, the casting of Ivanov should prove helpful in the long run.
More here.

Friday, 4 May 2012

Prima Ballerina Diana Vishneva May Appear in Alexey Uchitel's New Film

The prima ballerina of Mariinsky Theater Diana Vishneva may play the lead in the new film by famous director Alexei Uchitel. 
The feature film under the title Mathilde Kschessinska will be dedicated to the life of the renowned Russian ballerina.
Kschessinska graduated from the Imperial Theatrical School in St. Petersburg in 1890 and then danced on stage of the Mariinsky Theater until the revolution of 1917, when she immigrated to France. Kschessinska died in Paris in 1971 at the age of 99.
Alexey Uchitel's last work was the film The Edge released in 2010. The Edge was nominated to Oscar from Russia; however, it was not included in the short list of the American prize.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

"White Tiger": a battle with a phantom

The World War II action drama “White Tiger” by Russian director Karen Shakhnazarov will hit Russian screens on May 3rd, a few days before V-Day celebrations. The director describes his “White Tiger” as a war film with elements of mysticism and fantasy. The Voice of Russia’s Rita Bolotskaya reports.

The film is set during the Second World War and tells about a fierce confrontation between a Soviet tank man who miraculously survived and a German tank-phantom known as the White Tiger. The crewless tank-phantom mysteriously appears out of nowhere and vanishes into nowhere, killing soldiers and sowing panic. A Soviet tank man challenges the phantom. The director, Karen Shakhnazarov, who has never made war films before, says that there is something exciting about a man going into battle with a phantom.

Karen Shakhnazarov shared his opinion in an interview with a Voice of Russia correspondent.

"For me, to start filming about war was far from easy. You have to tap a nice story, a story which appeals to you, in the first place, if you want to make it into a film. I found Ilya Boyashev’s war story “Tank Man, or the White Tiger” exciting. It’s a fantasy story within the framework of a war. In order to be able to film about war, one should have this inner feeling that one is prepared for such work. I never filmed about war before. I acted as a producer for Nikolai Lebedev’s film “The Star”, which told about Soviet intelligence agents operating in the Nazi rear. But that was different. Now, I felt I was ready for a war film as well. Also, I want to pay tribute to the memory of my father and his comrades-in-arms who fought against the Nazis."

World War II provides an endless number of plots for film scripts, Karen Shakhnazarov says, and directors will continue to make films about it, even though battle scenes are becoming more and more difficult to mount if you don’t use computer graphics. Most “White Tiger” battle scenes were made without computer graphics thanks to the unique facilities of the Mosfilm Studio. Karen Shakhnazarov, who heads the Mosfilm Studio, says that the studio’s wartime equipment is in good condition and that former military experts are taking good care of it. Many of the studio’s tanks are 70 years old but they never fail and are always put into motion if necessary.