Friday, 28 December 2012

Fifteen Realities of Russian Cinema (Kinotavr 2012)

“Kinotavr is the reality of Russian cinema”: this is the bold signature claim of the world’s largest national film festival, held in Sochi each year. The claim is, in fact, as accurate as one might reasonably hope for in the hypertrophic world of festival cinema. Kinotavr, dating from 1990, when Mark Rudinshtein’s non-governmental company Moscow Suburbs first organized the Festival of Unbought Cinema in nearby Podol’sk, was later renamed and moved to Sochi, where it became the primary touchstone for contemporary Russian film. Changing hands in 2005, first to media leaders Aleksandr Rodnianskii and Igor’ Tolstunov, then to Rodnianskii alone, Kinotavr survived the lean years of the mid-1990s to flourish, supported by a board that has included major figures in the financial and media industries. Kinotavr’s artistic success is due in large measure to the efforts of program director Sitora Alieva, who takes seriously the festival’s principle task: to form a viewer who is able to watch a range of films; in her own words, to “constitute the auditorium.”

What could be said about Kinotavr’s 2012 “constitution”? Several elements stand out. First is the intriguing question of genre selection: which genres happen to be included this year? Which are absent? This “counterpoint” of generic presence and absence is an enduringly vexed puzzle: to what extent is that counterpoint the result of successful film submissions and to what extent is it a symptom of the industry’s emergent direction?

Kinotavr 2012 offered fifteen new works: three melodramas, two comedies, two psychological dramas, three almanacs, one adaptation, one New Year’s film, two (what I will describe as) quasi-documentary dramas, and one author’s film. Strikingly absent in this inventory are several traditionally dominant genres—the action film, the historical costume drama, the crime drama—all of which had figured among the submissions, but were not included in the final selection. Absent, too, from this year’s choice were the documentary (in its “pure” form), the musical, and the horror film. Even the author’s film—historically a hallmark of the Russian festival circuit (and Russia’s entry into other global festivals)—was represented by only a single film. By contrast to these lacunae, however, the festival selection included three film-almanacs, to which I pay brief attention below, marking a significant turn in the festival competition.

Review by Nancy Condee (U of Pittsburgh) in KinoKultura

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Russia's 'White Tiger' fails to make Oscars Best Foreign Picture shortlist

Screenshot from "White Tiger" film (image from

Russia's 'White Tiger' fails to make Oscars Best Foreign Picture shortlist - RT:

Russia's 'White Tiger' fails to make Oscars Best Foreign Picture shortlist
The US Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has announced the movies that will vie for the coveted Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. The Russian submission 'White Tiger' did not make the shortlist for the prize. A total of 71 films ...

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Alexander Sokurov's 'Faust' Wins Russian Critics' Award

Alexander Sokurov's 'Faust' Wins Russian Critics' Award - Hollywood Reporter:

Hollywood Reporter

Alexander Sokurov's 'Faust' Wins Russian Critics' Award
Hollywood Reporter
MOSCOW -- Alexander Sokurov's Faust was awarded as the best film at the ceremony for the annual Russian critics' award Bely Slon (White Elephant), which was held in Moscow on Dec. 20. our editor recommends. Bio of Russia's Mark Zuckerberg to Be ...

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Alexey Balabanov’s Film I Also Want Released in Russia

I want (2012)

New work by the most provocative Russian film director Alexey Balabanov - the realistic fairy tale I Also Want - is released in Russia on Thursday.

The main characters of the movie drive to the Belltower of Happiness, which is rumored to be located somewhere between St. Petersburg and Uglich, in a zone of increased radiation and eternal winter. A bandit (Alexander Mosin) learned about the Belltower of Happiness from his companion and told about it to a musician (Oleg Garkusha), who also came to want happiness. Together they stopped by at a hospital for the bandit’s friend - alcoholic Matvei (Yury Matveev). The latter one took with him his aged father. On the road four of them met a prostitute escaped from her procurer, and all together they went to look for the belltower.

According to Balabanov, the plan of the film appeared in autumn last year. It took a long time to write the scenario, but shootings took place quickly.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Russia's 'Kokoko' Attracts Most Viewers at Black Nights Film Festival

Russia's 'Kokoko' Attracts Most Viewers at Black Nights Film Festival 

Russia's 'Kokoko' Attracts Most Viewers at Black Nights Film Festival

The Russian tragicomedy "Kokoko" was the most watched movie at Tallinn's 16th Black Nights Film Festival, which ran from November 12 to December 2. This year's festival featured 266 full-length movies, which is more than most cinemas in Estonia screen ...

Monday, 10 December 2012

Mikhail Segal: Short Stories - Рассказы (2012)

Stories (2012)

Director: Mikhail Segal
Stars: Vladislav Leshkevich, Andrey Merzlikin, Tamara Mironova

Love Novikov (II), Konstantin Yushkevich

GORIN PRIZE FOR BEST SCRIPT Michael Segal, Short stories

Love Novikov (II)

At the beginning of Mikhail Segal’s film, an author approaches a publishing house with a selection of stories and is told there is no market for them. However, as various people open the book, they each find themselves drawn into an imaginary reality. The first story tells of a wedding organiser who can fix anything, including the future, while the second traces a course from petty bribery to political duplicity. In the third, the librarian of the Pushkin Library assists the police with her psychic powers ‘just like on television’, while in the fourth, a middle-aged man’s encounters with a sexually voracious young woman are interspersed with a discussion on the history of the Soviet Union. She loves Animal Planet but knows very little about Trotsky. Segal’s elliptical satire is achieved with precision and style – a nice counterbalance to the dark masterpieces of his contemporaries.
Peter Hames

The film "Short Stories" (2012) Trailer

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Russia's Ivanovo Region acquires Tarkovsky's archives

Russia's Ivanovo Region acquires Tarkovsky's archives
Russia Beyond The Headlines
The archives of Andrei Tarkovsky – the famous Russian director of such renowned films as “Stalker” and “Solaris” – were recently sold at an auction at Sotheby's in London. The auction lot, which included the director's screenplays, book manuscript, and ...