It’s been a disappointing year for Russian film. Only a handful made it into any major international festivals. Although one, A Long and Happy Life by established festival favourite Boris Khlebnikov, participated in the Berlin Film Festival in February there were no Russian films in the main competitions at Cannes, Venice or Rome. Moscow-based film critic Anton Sazonov picks five new productions from both established and new directors that he predicts will fare better next year.
The Hope Factory
Director: Natalia Meshchaninova
Potential festivals: Sundance, Berlinale
Director's bio: Natalia Meshchaninova first achieved acclaim with School, a thought-provoking television series about a Russian high school that sparked widespread public debate about education in the country. Meshchaninova, who was trained in documentary film, went on to make Dick Dick, a live recording of a concert by legendary Russian rock group Leningrad that focused not on the musicians but the band’s fans.
Plot: The Hope Factory is reminiscent of Federico Fellini’s I Vitelloni, only instead of the Adriatic Coast, the story takes place in the harsh climes of Arctic Russia. The main character, Sveta, is a teenager from the grim industrial city of Norilsk who dreams of escaping her hometown.
What you need to know: The film, in the words of the director, is somewhat “anti-patriotic” and was therefore refused funding from the Ministry of Culture.
Director: Ilya Naishuller
Potential festivals: Unknown but international distribution is likely in the spring or summer of 2014
Director’s bio: Although he is just shy of 30, Ilya Naishuller is already making waves in Hollywood. Naishuller, who doubles up as the frontman for Moscow punk band Biting Elbows, was compared to Quentin Tarantino following the release of a music video for Bad Motherfucker this year. Director Darren Aronofsky took to Twitter to praise Naishuller for a video “well done”. The video, which boasts 17.6 million views on YouTube, caught the eye of producer Timur Bekmambetov and quickly led to an invitation to direct a full-length feature in the same style. A second music video, The Stampede, also did well with four million views on YouTube.
Plot: The full plot of Naishuller’s debut, Hardcore, is yet to be revealed. What’s known is that South African actor Sharlto Copley, star of Oscar-nominated sci-fi flick District 9, will take the lead role in the film, which will be set in Moscow in 2014. Copley will play a mute and murderous cyborg called Henry while his nemesis, Akan, will have telepathic powers.