RUSSIAN RESURRECTION! 2005 - PREVIEW
GRIPS YOU BY THE HEART
One major reason why Russian cinema is so engaging is that the subject matter is always dramatic, powerful, and drawn from the heart of Russian society, says Nicholas Maksymow, the director of Russian Resurrection!, the second festival of films from his homeland.†
In recent years there has been a resurgence in Russian cinema with many films making their mark on the international stage. Russian film and its filmmakers have survived the momentous social and economic changes of the early 1990s with great success Ė producing Academy Award winning films such as Nikita Mikhalkovís Burnt By the Sun, and other nominees including Bodrovís Prisoner of the Mountains and Pavel Chukhraiís The Thief. More recently, The Return won the coveted Venice International Film Festival and Our Own, the Moscow International Film Festival. Alexander Sokurovís Russian Ark became an internationally critically acclaimed cinematic achievement that featured over 2000 cast members and was shot in one continuous take.
Over the last three years Russian cinema has become a vital cultural component, because of its accessibility to everyday Russian people. Since the onslaught of capitalism, live theatre in Russia, though still brilliant and visually mesmerising, has become expensive cultural entertainment for the nueveau riche. Cinema on the other hand, continues to this very day to serve classes of all society. The local film industry is steadily growing, thanks to the financial support of the Agency of Cinematography and Culture of the Russian Federation.
Russian films (unlike Hollywood films) are poignant. They relate closely to the fortunes of people, closely depicting life experiences and illustrating the uniqueness of what it is to be Russian. As in the Soviet era, films today address subject matters that relate to Russian society using a sense of comedy through tears.†
Ryazanovís classic Soviet feature Irony of Fate, has similar comedic overtures to the more recent films of Todorovsky, including The Lover and My Stepbrother Frankenstein. Yet at the same time, all three films bring to the forefront deep and emotional tragedy. If a Russian film is not about the comedic-dramatic interplays of society and culture, it will be about history and/or the Second World War. No other filmmaking nation can depict the brutality and horrors of war with such stark realism, as Soviet and Russian cinema.
To this end, it is not surprising that all three classic films screening as part of the World War II retrospective at the 2005 Russian Film Festival have all been nominated for an Academy Award. The films are The Dawns are Quiet Here, A Wartime Romance and Ballad of a Soldier.
The line-up of new films for this year is also undeniably strong. Driver for Vera won the coveted Golden Rose for Best Film at the 2004 Russian Film Festival, Kinotavr; the controversial Papa won the Audience Award for Best Film at the 2004 Moscow International Film Festival. The festival will also feature a teenage, coming of age drama, Moth Games, and the winner of the 2004 Best Film at the Moscow International Film Festival, Our Own - recently described as the film Saving Private Ryan was trying to be.†
"a vital, passionate voice"
Valeri Todorovsky, director of the Audience Favourite from last year, The Lover, will be in Sydney to present his latest and exceptionally moving feature, My Stepbrother Frankenstein, as this yearís Opening Night Film. Also coming to Sydney is Alexey Uchitel whose latest feature, Dreaming of Space, won the 2005 Best Film Award at the Moscow International Film Festival.†
Russian cinema is a diverse world of film providing a vital, passionate voice that examines its society with humour and frankness.†
(Russian Resurrection! will be held in Sydney over four days from Wednesday September 7 to Sunday September 11, at Greater Union Bondi Junction and Greater Union Burwood; The Festival will then move to Melbourne where it will be held exclusively at Cinema Nova, Carlton from Wednesday 14 to Sunday September 18, 2005.)
Published September 1, 2005
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My Stepbrother Frankenstein