Thursday, 31 January 2013

Lenfilm Lives On! The Charm and Curse of Continuity

At the time of writing, Lenfilm studios is threatened with imminent closure and disappearance, making Russia’s, and the USSR’s, second biggest studio a fitting and highly topical subject for a historical retrospective (Kozlov 2012). Previous symposiums organized at Wiesbanden’s goEast festival of Eastern and Central European film have traced a common thread in the cinema of a number of countries. This year, however, in a bold and wildly successful departure, the symposium was devoted not just to the cinema of a single country, but to that of a single city. What’s more, one that no longer exists: Leningrad. Unlike the city, which physically lives on, but under a different name, the Lenfilm studio, initially founded in 1918 as the Petrograd Cinema Committee, has retained its link with Lenin in a Russia where the leader of the Russian revolution is more reviled than Stalin, Hitler, Genghis Khan or even Vlad the Impaler. A powerful symbol of the city’s commitment to cultural continuity, the Lenfilm moniker has apparently become an albatross in a post-Soviet world which values a new kind of forgetting. GoEast’s provocative symposium confronted these issues of identity and tradition in a program that combined intellectual rigor with political relevance.

Yet, despite its newsworthy nature, the rationale for the Symposium was first of all an intellectual one: a sense that all roads lead to, or at least through, Leningrad. Whatever the era or topic, be it the avant-garde, socialist realism, the Thaw, popular and genre cinema of the 60s and 70s, the glasnost era, at each point an analysis of Russian film history comes up against Lenfilm productions, suggesting that the studio made films which are central to the understanding of Soviet cinema. We might quibble of course: it might be argued that the circumstances of the wartime siege meant that Leningrad film was truly cut off from that of the rest of the country and was unable to contribute as much to film history in that period, even if the city’s filmmakers attempted to make an extraordinary documentary about the experience of the blockade, eventually released in a watered-down version, and evacuated Leningrad filmmakers, such as Fridrikh Ermler, made important contributions to Alma-Ata based productions.

But even if we concede that Lenfilm productions played a pivotal role in Soviet film history, then do they share common characteristics? Was there a Lenfilm touch, approach or sensibility? The curators of the symposium, Barbara Wurm and Olaf Möller attempt to argue that the studio tended never quite to fit in to the prevailing ethos, but was avant- or arrière-garde, either anticipating or lagging behind prevailing aesthetic norms. This formulation suggests not a single unifying style or essence in the studio, but a relation or orientation to the norm, to Moscow, and to the time. It might equally be argued, that Lenfilm loosely encompassed a cluster of concerns: above all they tended to address issues of cultural continuity, and the role or place of the intelligentsia, more insistently than other Soviet movies, and often used the Petersburg cityscape in order to articulate these themes, as can be illustrated though a brief historical overview of the studio’s output.

Jeremy Hicks (QMUL) in KinoKultura

Mosfilm Enters its 90s With Some Grump and a Limp

One of Russia's oldest and largest film studios will celebrate its 90th anniversary later this year, and befitting this hefty life experience, it is struggling to keep up with the newest trends. Mosfilm's general director Karen Shakhnazarov spoke last week about its efforts to modernize, but added that its prime years of big studios and movie theaters have flittered away.

Mosfilm Enters its 90s With Some Grump and a Limp

Monday, 28 January 2013

White Tiger' Named Best Russian Movie at Golden Eagle Ceremony

Белый тигр (2012)

Karen Shakhnazarov’s Bely Tigr (White Tiger) was awarded as 2012’s best Russian movie at the Golden Eagle ceremony, which was held at Moscow’s film studio Mosfilm on Jan. 25.

The $11 million World War II drama, focused on the story of a Russian tankman who nearly gets killed when his tank burns down but eventually recovers to fight a mysterious Nazi “White Tiger” tank, was Russia’s contender in the best foreign-language movie Oscar race this year, but didn’t make the long list.

At the Golden Eagle ceremony, White Tiger also picked up awards for the best music, best sound and best editing.

Andrei Proshkin collected the best director award for his movie Orda (The Horde), a period piece set in the 14th century. Last year, the film already brought Proshkin the best director’s award at the Moscow International Film Festival. The Horde was also awarded for the best cinematography, best set design and best costume design, while its writer Yuri Arabov received the best screenplay award.

Орда (2012)

Danila Kozlovsky, the star of Roman Prygunov’s Dukhless (Soulless), was awarded as the best actor, and Anna Mikhalkova collected the best actress award for her role in Rezo Gigineishvili’s Lyubov S Aktsentom (Love with an Accent).

Viktoria Tolstoganovawas awarded as the best supporting actress for her role in Alexei Andrianov’s Shpion (Spy), and Andrei Smolyakov received the best supporting actor award for his role in Pyotr Buslov’s Vysotsky. Spasibo, Chto Zhivoy (Vystotsky. Grateful to be Alive).

Veteran cinematographer Vadim Yusov, who worked with Andrei Tarkovsky and Sergei Bondarchuk, collected a lifetime achievement award.

Friday, 25 January 2013

All Films by Muratova Will Be Shown At the Rotterdam Film Festival

A complete retrospective of films of the director awarded with the "Silver Bear" of the Berlin IFF Kira Muratova will be held as a part of the 42nd International Film Festival in Rotterdam.

The Film Festival in Rotterdam will take place from January 23 to February 3. The program includes all 20 movies by Muratova that were created over 50 years of her career – from her first joint work with Alexander Muratov "Near the steep ravine" (1962) and to her last film "Eternal Homecoming. Casting” (2012), which participated in the official competition of the Rome International Film Festival in November 2012.


Boris Khlebnikov`s Film Is Included In the Competition Of the Berlin Film Festival

Alexander Yatsenko

The film "Long Happy Life" by the Russian director Boris Khlebnikov ("Free Floating", "Crazy Help" and "Until the night parts us") will be shown within the frame of the main competition at the Berlin Film Festival. 

The film tells about a former businessman Sasha who left the city and became a farmer. The main parts in the film are performed by the actors who worked with the director many times before: Alexander Yatsenko, Eugeny Sytyi and Anna Kotova.

The cameraman of the film is Pavel Kostomarov who won the prize "Berlinale" in 2010 for his work on "How I Spent This Summer".


Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Sergei M. Eisenstein: Battleship Potemkin - Бронено́сец «Потёмкин» (1925)

Battleship Potemkin (1925)

Considered one of the most important films in the history of silent pictures, as well as possibly Eisenstein's greatest work, Battleship Potemkin brought Eisenstein's theories of cinema art to the world in a powerful showcase;his emphasis on montage, his stress of intellectual contact, and his treatment of the mass instead of the individual as the protagonist.

The film tells the story of the mutiny on the Russian ship Prince Potemkin during the 1905 uprising.

Battleship Potemkin (1925)

Director: Sergei M. Eisenstein, Grigori Aleksandrov
Producer: Jacob Bliokh
Production Company: Goskino
Actors: Alexander Antonov , Vladimir Barsky , Grigori Aleksandrov , Ivan Bobrov, Mikhail Gomory , Andrei Fait , Vladimir Ural

Awards :
1926 . - Gold Medal at the International Exhibition of Decorative Arts in Paris (Sergei Eisenstein).
1926 . - Prize for best film of the year the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts ( Sergei Eisenstein ) .

Film Battleship Potemkin
you can watch
Creative Commons license: Public Domain

Thursday, 10 January 2013

'The King's Speech' Writer David Seidler Adapting Pushkin's 'Queen Of Spades'; Pavel Lungin To Direct

Despite taking home the Academy Award last year for Best Original Screenplay, David Seidler's writing credits are nowhere near as impressive as you'd imagine for an Oscar-winning writer of his age. The oldest ever winner of the Original Screenplay Oscar had found himself mostly writing TV movies in recent years, and his most notable credit came back in 1988 with Francis Ford Coppola's "Tucker: The Man and His Dream." But winning such a big award for "The King's Speech" opens a lot of doors, and it makes sites like this one pay attention to what the writer's next project might be.

ScreenDaily reports that Seidler is working on an adaptation of Alexander Pushkin's "Queen of Spades" for the Russian Art Pictures Studio. "Queen of Spades" is a nineteenth century Russian short story of a man becomes obsessed with the tale of a woman who lost a fortune playing cards but won it all back with the secret of three winning cards. Cannes veteran Pavel Lungin ("Taxi Blues," "Luna Park," "The Wedding") is attached to direct the film, which will feature music from the Russian composer Tchaikovsky (who based an opera on the short story) and has an estimated budget of around 12 million euros.

 More here.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Russia's film renaissance hasn't left home

Russia's film renaissance hasn't left home: 

Russia's film renaissance hasn't left home

Russia Beyond The Headlines

Can new Russian films crack the American market? Or are they doomed to fail, always fated to be interpreted as “foreign films” and therefore doomed to art house cinemas? These are questions for which many Russian cinephiles would like answers.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Viktor Shamirov: This is what happens to me - Со мною вот что происходит (2012)

To me this is what happens (2012)

Director: Viktor Shamirov
Writers: Yuriy Kutsenko, Viktor Shamirov
Stars: Yuriy Kutsenko, Viktor Shamirov, Aleksandra Petrova

Awards :
Special Prize International Film Festival : Pacific Meridians, Russia, 2012
Best actor Gosha KUTSENKO , Viktor SHAMIROV , Festival "Vivat Kino Rossii", Russia, 2012
First prize Honfleur Russian Film Festival, France, 2012

Alexander Petrov (II)

“This is what happens to me” is a lyric story, written by Viktor Shamirov and Gosha Kutsenko. The movie is presented as a film without a plot but which captures the lyricism of rushing through time, set to Tariverdiev’s music.

Alexander Petrov (II)

Tariverdiev’s music creates the mood of the film. The main theme is the one from the film “Irony of Fate”. Composer’s wife and a keeper of his musical heritage Vera Tariverdieva allowed using the melodies in Viktor Shamirov’s movie. “I liked the idea, I like people who brought it to life. Many people use Mikael’s music and they often do it in a wrong way. This movie seems to express nostalgia. They did need Tariverdiev’s music”.

Олеся Железняк, Гоша Куценко

The script was written in 2007, but the film wasn’t made because of the crisis. The idea of a movie has changed since that time. The elements of thriller have disappeared, new emotions and new experience are there now. Co-producer of the film Georgi Shabanov says: “It’s an author’s film; it’s the desire of Viktor Shamirov and Gosha Kutsenko to tell their personal story and to devote it to their parents”.

More here.