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This year’s program features 14 Australian premieres and two retrospectives with five films, including an homage to its authentic Russian roots and to mark the bicentenary of the 1812 defeat of Napoleon, an 1812 retrospective comprising five films – including the 1969 epic War & Peace.


The second is a Chekhov retrospective with two awarding wining films: The Duel and the comedy Unfinished Piece for a Player Piano, in true Chekhovian style.

Highlights in the program include Vysotsky. Thank God I’m Alive, the highest grossing film at the Russian Box Office in 2011. This is a biopic based on the life and death of one of the USSR’s most beloved singer-songwriters, Vladimir Vysotsky. The film explores the man behind the legend and the cult of personality that surrounded one of Russia’s original rock stars. Directed by acclaimed crime film director, Petr Buslov (Bummer) and written by Vysotskiy’s son, it has been critically acclaimed and loved by the fans that worship the legend of Vysotsky’s music and personality. Vysotsky, the movie, a realistic and grim insight into the corruption that existed in the 1970s Soviet Union. “Powerfully directed, brilliantly acted, controversial, gripping and uncompromising. New Russian cinema at its best!” says the program.

"spy thriller that is full of twists, comedy and suspense"

Opening film is Spy: Based on popular mystery writer Boris Akunin’s spy novel the setting is a beautiful utopian Moscow in autumn 1941. In the lead up to the outbreak of WWII a deadly battle looms between two opposing secret services. The young Lieutenant Dorin is brought into the intelligence service by virtue of his boxing skills and perfect German. Under the tutelage of Major Oktyabrsky he is enlisted for an operation to capture the extremely dangerous Fascist spy known as Wasser. Hitler’s secret plan is to misinform Stalin of Germany’s plan to attack the Soviet Union. But the Soviet counterintelligence is successful in thwarting his intent. That is until it becomes clear that there is a mole in the organisation. This is a historical film but in a steam-punk futuristic setting and a storyline in the great tradition of the spy thriller that is full of twists, comedy and suspense.

"special event"

Another special event will be 1812 - made in 1912, this film has become known as one of the greatest pieces of pre-Soviet cinema. The silent film tells the story of the Patriotic war of 1812 when Napoleon attempted to invade Russia. This joint French and Russian film sparked major excitement in Moscow at its premier screening and continues to entertain audiences throughout the world today. The 32-minute silent film was the point of origin for some of the more advanced camera techniques used today. 

And if you want BIG cinema, the Festival offers Sergei Bondarchuk’s epic 7-hour marathon adaptation of Tolstoy’s classic War & Peace. It surpasses all else on scales of grandeur, ambition, exacting details and expense. This multi-award winning masterpiece (including the 1969 Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film) is rewardingly obsessive in its accurate depiction of Tolstoy’s tale of five families set against the magnificently described background of Napoleon's invasion of Russia in 1812. 

"a super-spectacular"

Bondarchuk has created a super-spectacular that puts all modern computer generated effects-laden films to shame. “It is breathtaking to witness the 40 minute re-enactment of the battle of Borodino, staged with 120,000 men and 800 horses, the looting and burning of Moscow, the fairy tale ballrooms and grandeurs of pre-1812 elegance. Perhaps the greatest movie ever made of the greatest tale ever written, War and Peace is also the most expensive film ever made with a budget of $US560 million (in adjusted figures),” say the organisers.

"highly anticipated celebrations"

“Every year, the Russian Resurrection Opening Night Parties stand out as the most highly anticipated celebrations, awash with pure Ruski high spirits, entertainment and hospitality. Each capital city will again play host to these legendary nights of wonderful Russian filmmaking, delectable tasty treats and compulsory dancing delights,” say the organisers.

Published August 9, 2012

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Chauvel Cinema, Paddington & Event Cinemas, Burwood
30 August – 12 September

Palace Cinema Como
5 – 16 September

Palace Centro
7 – 16 September

Greater Union, Manuka
14 – 19 September

Cinema Paradiso
19 – 26 September

War & Peace


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