Friday, 31 May 2013

Konstantin Lopushansky: The Role - Роль (2013)

Director: Konstantin Lopushansky
Starring: Anastasia Sheveleva , Maxim Sukhanov , Leonid Brain , Maria Yarvenhelmi

"The Role"  is about a brilliant actor in revolutionary Russia who takes on the greatest role of his life -- the role of another man. Influenced by the ideas of symbolism and the Silver Age, he decides to slip into the life of his doppelganger – a revolutionary leader in the new Soviet Russia. First intrigued, then obsessed, he flings himself into the role and lives it to the hilt… even when the play of the life he is writing heads towards a tragic finale. Based on true incidents in the lives of Russia’s symbolists, this gripping film explores how far one man will go for the role of a lifetime.

In one of the opening scenes of Konstantin Lopushanskii’s The Role, a Finnish psychoanalyst discusses his patient, the émigré Russian actor Nikolai Evlakhov, with the actor’s wife. The doctor concludes that he cannot understand what motivates Russians. It’s as if, he muses, they all live as though they are characters in a Dostoevskii novel. Lopushanskii’s film is framed around this diagnosis, offering what the critic Elena D’iakova has called “a master class in the Russian Revolution” (D’iakova 2013).

The Role debuted at the 35th Moscow International Film Festival and created a minor stir among critics when it failed to take home any awards, particularly for Best Actor. Writing in Sobesednik, the writer Dmitrii Bykov opined that the festival’s jury got things wrong by not rewarding Maksim Sukhanov’s performance because they did not want to be reminded that movies can be art (Bykov 2013). It is not hard to understand why Bykov and others cried foul. Lopushanskii’s Role is a fascinating film about acting, an intriguing statement about the boundaries between life and art in Russian culture, and even a profound meditation on the 1917 Revolution and subsequent Civil War.

The film tells the fictional story of Nikolai Evlakhov (played by Maksim Sukhanov), a great Silver Age actor who fled from the Bolsheviks and who settled in Vyborg, Finland. By 1923, when the film opens, Evlakhov is restless and, as his wife worries, possibly unhinged. The actor has turned down a variety of roles, refused to meet with foreign backers, and is instead preoccupied with a new project: the attempt to embody Nikolai Evreinov’s declaration that every actor should make a theater out of life. Evlakhov has become obsessed with the legendary Red Army commander, Ignat Plotnikov, with whom he bears a remarkable resemblance. The actor has purchased Plotnikov’s archive and smuggled it across the border. He has studied the life contained within it extensively and has hatched a plan to return to his homeland to “play” a resurrected Plotnikov. He desires, as one Russian critic noted, to transform himself from a decadent aesthetic to an ascetic revolutionary (Arsen’ev 2013).


Konstantin Lopushansky: The Ugly Swans - Гадкие Лебеди (2006)

Directed by Konstantin Lopushansky.
Based on the novel of the same name by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky.
Cast: Gregory Hlady, Leonid Mozgovoy, Aleksey Kortnev

The Ugly Swans (2006)

Awards: Grand-Prix of the Ravenna Nightmare Film Festival (Italy)

The script for «The Ugly Swans» is based on the story about so called ghost town where the boarding school for gifted children was located. A young and frightfully strange generation was growing up there, infinite number of commissions and special services scrutinizing closely this anomaly were chasing around. A hero, who had to carry out his own investigation, appeared against these events. But that was only his excuse. He arrived to this town just to save his child. The fight between the characters arose not for the certain children but for the form of the Future that had to be chosen by the mankind.

Friday, 24 May 2013

Russian Director Pyotr Todorovsky Dies at 87

Russian director Pyotr Todorovsky died in Moscow on Friday at 87.

Todorovsky, a World War II veteran, began his career in cinema as a director of photography. He photographed several classical Soviet films, including 1956’s Vesna na Zarechnoy Ulitse (Spring on Zarechnaya Street), directed by Marlen Khutsiyev and Feliks Mironer.

Todorovsky made his directorial debut in 1962 with the drama Nikogda (Never) and he became an important director rather late in his career. In 1981, he made the popular melodrama Lyubimaya Zhenshchina Mekhanika Gavrilova (The Mechanic Gavrilov's Beloved Woman). It was followed by Voyenno-Polevoy Roman (Wartime Romance), a melodrama set during WWII, which was shortlisted for the best foreign language film Oscar in 1985 and brought the Berlin Film Festival’s best actress Silver Bear to lead Inna Churikova.

Wartime Romance (1983)

Todorovsky’s next movie was the 1989 box office champion Interdevochka (Intergirl), centered on prostitution, which for many years was a taboo topic in the Soviet Union. The movie brought Yelena Yakovleva, the lead actress, the Russian award Nika and the best actress award at the Tokyo International Film Festival, where the film also collected the Special Jury Prize.

Todorovsky’s last film was 2008’s WWII drama Riorita. He also scored most of his films.

The Hollywood Reporter:

Alexei Balabanov: Last master of a bygone era in film

Iconic Russian film director Alexei Balabanov passed away on May 18, 2013. He is best known for his portrayal of Russia in the 1990s, particularly in his films Brother and Brother 2.

Balabanov was born on Feb. 25, 1959 in the Urals city of Sverdlovsk (now Yekaterinburg) and earned a degree in foreign languages. He fought with the Soviet army in Afghanistan, an experience he drew on for his films War and Cargo 200. In 1990, after completing an advanced training course in scriptwriting and filmmaking, Balabanov settled in St. Petersburg.

Balabanov’s first important production was Happy Days, shot in 1991. Constructed from the debris of the Soviet Union, the film heralded a new era in Russian cinematography. In a sense, Balabanov’s films are comparable to the works of western film directors. Certain parallels can be drawn between his movies and the early work of Quentin Tarantino in their shared taste for crime, violence and a scarcely justified passion for atrocities.

One of Balabanov’s most scandalous movies, Of Freaks and Men, which provoked mixed feelings in even the most sophisticated film fans, can only be compared to The Idiots by Lars von Trier and 120 Days of Sodom by Paolo Pasolini.

However, Balabanov is a purely Russian film director in spirit, who is also a product of his time. He never cared for the glory of foreign film festivals, preferring to express his love of his country and the views of a true Russian Orthodox Christian. All of his films were about Russia. He once said: “I don’t like festivals. They are boring. I don’t know anyone in the government. I don’t keep in touch with anyone. I live in St. Petersburg, and I don’t hang out anywhere. All I do is make films. It’s a good thing if they like them upstairs too. What’s the harm in that?”

Although Balabanov was frequently perceived by film critics and the public as a master of black humor and glorifier of violence, his films were not limited to crime dramas. He worked in a wide range of genres, completing 14 feature films, including the situational drama Brother and its sequel, Brother 2.

More here.

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Director Alexey Balabanov Died

Russian film director Alexei Balabanov has died near St. Petersburg of an “attack” at the age of 54.
During the filming of his latest movie, "I want" Balabanov said many times that his days are numbered, and this will be his last work.

Alexey Balabanov has gained wide acclaim of mass public thanks to his tough action movies about Russian mafia. Why bandits? “People have always watched and will watch films about bandits” – says the film director in his interviews. “I create films in turn: popular – unpopular… and it is not deliberately, it just happens this way.” Soon Balabanov is going to release a new (non-bandit) film, and time will show, if it is popular or not. Anyway, all of his films, whether obviously aimed at love of masses or not, are not devoid of significant ideas and powerful impact on the viewer – that is what makes Aleksei Balabanov interesting.

Alexey Balabanov was born on February 25, 1959 in Sverdlovsk (now Yekaterinburg). In 1981 he graduated from Translation Faculty of Gorky Teachers’ Training University. From 1983 to 1987 Alexei worked as an assistant of a film director at Sverdlovsk film studio. Later Balabanov studied at the experimental course “Authors’ Cinema” of the High Courses for Scriptwriters and Film Directors, graduating in 1990.

BROTHER (2) with English subtitles


Balabanov started his creative career in “big cinema” in 1991 with directing his first full-length feature Shchastlivyye dni (Happy Days) after his own script. In the same year he became the co-author of the script Pogranichniy Conflict (Frontier Conflict) by the young film director Nadezhda Khvorova.

In 1992 Aleksei Balabanov together with producers Sergei Selyanov and Vasily Grigor'ev established the STV Film Company, which later participated in creation of almost all of his films.

War 2002 with English subtitles

In 1994 the film director released Zamok (The Castle) after the famous novel by Frantz Kafka.

In the same year Balabanov debuted as a producer, with the film Ispoved neznakomtsu (Secrets Shared with a Stranger). Next year he took part in creation of the film almanac Pribytiye poyezda (The Arrival of a Train) (1995) dedicated to the 100th anniversary of cinematography; Balabanov’s segment Trofim won a number of cinema awards.

More here.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Kinotavr Festival to be Opened with Govorukhin's New Film

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Organizers of the Kinotavr Film Festival have announced the competitive program of the film festival.

As the official website of the film festival shows, the Kinotavr will be opened with Stanislav Govorukhin's new work under the title Weekend. The film is based on the detective novel The Elevator to Scaffold by the French writer Noel Kalef. Mr. Govorukhin has transferred the action to Moscow. The leading roles in the movie are played by Victor Sukhorukov, Maxim Matveyev and Alexander Domogarov.

The main competitive program of the film festival has included 12 movies altogether. In particular, works by Alexey Fedorchenko, Alexander Veledinsky, and Taisiya Igumentseva will compete for the Grand Prix of the festival.

The jury of the main competition will be headed by the illustrious film director Alexander Mitta. The festival will be crowned with Dmitry Konstantinov's movie Farewell.

More here.

Monday, 13 May 2013

Russian filmmakers await the 66th Cannes Film Festival

Russian participation in the Cannes Film Festival began when the USSR was invited to the first festival in 1939. France extended the invitation during a period when it held high aspirations of turning the great power into its ally.

However, the first festival never took place. The scheduled date, September 1, 1939, brought the outbreak of World War II.

The Cannes Film Festival resumed in 1946, and the Soviet Union was invited as a victorious nation. “However, the nation’s involvement in the festival was spoiled by technical problems during screenings, and Soviet officials accused the organizers of sabotaging their films. Soviet movies were barely shown at the festival over the four following decades.”

There were, however, a few major Soviet successes in Cannes. Fridrikh Elmer's The Turning Point became the first Russian film to take the Palme d'Or in 1946.

In 1958, Mikhail Kalatozov's The Cranes Are Flying became the second, and also last, Russian film to take the prize.

Many have come close to taking the Palme d'Or since. Andrei Tarkovsky was nominated for the Palme d'Or three times, for Solaris in 1972, Nostalghia in 1983 and The Sacrifice in 1986.

Grigoriy Chukray, like Tarkovsky was also nominated three times, for The Forty-First in 1957, Ballad of a Soldier in 1960 and There Was an Old Couple in 1965.

In the late 1990s, the controversies and intrigues associated with the participation of Russian films came to an end.

Since then, the likes of Pavel Lungin, Nikita Mikhalkov, Alexander Sokurov (nominated for the Palme d'Or five times) and Andrey Zvyagintsev have had a chance to really emerge. In a recent trend, the juries have begun paying more attention to film debuts.

More here.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Ekaterina Klimova

Ekaterina Aleksandrovna Klimova born January 24, 1978 is a Russian film, theater and TV actress, who started her career in 1999.

In 2002, she received Viktor Rozov Award for the Best Actress Under Age 30.
Catherine Klimov (Ekaterina Klimova) - "We're from the future - 2" (2010)
"We're from the future - 2" (2010)

One of her notable roles is Dutchess Natalia Repnina in 2003 television series Poor Nastya.

Catherine Klimov (Ekaterina Klimova) - "Poor Nastya" (2003-2004)
"Poor Nastya" (2003-2004)

Catherine Klimov (Ekaterina Klimova) - "Sins of the Fathers" (2004)
Sins of Fathers 2004