The Russian city of Sochi is taking a break from its Olympic preparations this summer to showcase the best young Russian filmmakers at the Kinotavr Film Festival, running June 2-9. Headlining the festival, Russia’s biggest, is President Vladimir Putin’s favorite film director, the veteran Stanislav Govorukhin.
The festival’s most anticipated premieres are all from young directors, and are very much in the arthouse tradition.
Alexander Veledinsky’s The Geographer Drank His Globe Away (Geograf Globus Propil) stars Night Watch actor Konstantin Khabersky as a high-school teacher in the city of Perm, while Andrei Stempkovsky’s The Delivery Guy (Raznoshchik) tells the story of a young man who delivers pizzas while trying to pay for his father’s expensive medical treatment.
Another premiere, Alexei Fedorchenko’s Celestial Wives of the Meadow Mari (Nebesniye Zheny Lugovykh Mari), focuses on fantasy tales about the Mari people, a Finno-Ugric ethnic group living in Russia.
Kicking off the festival at the June 2 Opening Gala was Weekend, Govoroukhin’s homage to French auteur Louis Malle. In Malle’s 1958 French noir thriller “Ascenseur Pour L’échafaud” (Lift to the Scaffold) – itself adapted from a pulp novel of the same name by Noel Calef – an ex-paratrooper teams up with his mistress to murder her industrialist husband.
The film was instrumental in inspiring the French “New Wave”, in which Malle was a key player.
In Weekend, whose screenplay was written by Govorukhin, the stage moves to 21st century Russia, but the film retains the aesthetics of Malle’s classic, being shot in atmospheric black-and-white.