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Valery Todorovsky will be a special guest of this year’s Russian Resurrection Film Festival, which is screening a retrospective of his films among a broader program including Legend No 17, the true story of ice hockey legend Valery Harlamov, which has become the highest grossing Russian film of all time.

Harlamov’s dream, determination and sporting abilities saw him rise to the top of the sport which changed the standing of ice-hockey in world sport. Director Nikolai Lebedev has assembled an all-star cast (Daniil Kozlovsky, Oleg Menshikov, Vladimir Menshov, Roman Madyanov); Lebedev and lead actress Svetlana Ivanova will be attending Sydney and Brisbane’s Opening Night. 

Premieres at this year’s festival include:
Boris Hlebnikov’s A Long and Happy Life, is about Sasha, a toung man from the city turned farmer who decides to help his fellow villagers protect their land from the state. But getting caught up in someone else´s fight could end up costing him everything.

The film takes us into rural Russia, a glimpse of raw reality at lives scratching at survival. Despite the contemporary technology – computers, mobiles – the mindsets are not so modern. Adapting the hand held camera style of Western cinema, director Hlebnikov nonetheless loves long steady shots as if to say ‘look at this and think about it’. He builds a slow burn as the story unravels as it grows more intense. Terrific performances from all, not just Aleksandr Yatsenko as Sasha. (Nominated for the Golden Bear at Berlin, 2013. 

Viktor Shamirov’s bittersweet lyric tale, set to the music of Tariverdiev (Irony of Fate – a 1970s Soviet cult classic); remembering the good old days, a time when the “irony of fate” could literally comfort and reassure oneself for a new and happy life in the new year.

The Todorovsky program includes:
Under Moscow Nights (1994), inspired by the famous romantic story of murderous love, “Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District”, unfolds in the Perestroika period Moscow suburb. Katia types manuscripts for Irina, her husband's mother and a successful writer of romance novels. Strange and deadly things begin happening at the family summer house which calls the attention of a judge who is extremely familiar with Irina's writing. This award winning film shows how a wife finds her life transformed after a torrid affair in this story of murder.

The Lover (2002) explores the complexities of grief. It tells the heartbreaking story of two men’s love for the same woman. One of them is a University Professor, the other an ex-military man. A common tragedy unites these two completely different people. The film won the Russian Guild of Film Critics Award for Best Actor (Oleg Yankovsky), the Jury Prix for Best Script and Best Photography at the San Sebastian International Film Festival and screened at numerous festivals around the world including the 46th Regus London Film Festival and the Toronto International Film Festival.

My Stepbrother Frankenstein (2004) tells the story of Yulik, a Moscow scientist who’s peaceful family life is shattered when he receives a letter from Pavel, an ex soldier claiming to be his illegitimate son. When Yulik and his family finally take Pavel into their lives, his presence begins to change them all dramatically; Pavel at times looks and acts like the “monster” of Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein and when his scientist father finally exiles his “creation” there are devastating consequences for them all. In this film Todorovsky aims to illustrate that confronting situations can happen to anyone, however the indifference can be broken.

Love (1992) reveals a time in Russia heavily influenced by anti-Semitism and neo-Fascism. It follows the journey of two Moscow students as their lives change radically when one of them falls for a Jewish girl whose family is being persecuted by anonymous anti-Semites and is preparing to immigrate to Israel.

The beautifully shot and fast-paced drama Vice (2007) is vaguely reminiscent of Steven Soderbergh’s Traffic (2000), tracking the fall from grace of beautiful young things seduced by a world darker and craftier than they could ever imagine. Young ambitious Denis lives in Rostov-on-Don with his beautiful girlfriend Masha, enjoying small time fame and notoriety as a local DJ. Never satisfied, his yearning for the big time takes Denis into the underbelly of drugs, crime and corruption, and soon his life is no longer his own.

Maksim Matveev is excellent as Denis, as are all the supports, in what is a striking look into contemporary Russian life on the edges. (Not dissimilar in many respects from the back streets of Los Angeles, really….) Todorovsky packs a punch with his acid style in this film, his characters dangerous, his story compelling. 

Hipsters (2008) is a colourful musical set in Soviet Russia in the 1950s. Mels (Anton Shagin) is a member of the Komsomol, the youth wing of the Communist Party. Polina is a Stilyagi or Hipster, a group of youths who stand out from the rest of their grey clothed comrades with their flashy colourful clothes and love of Jazz and American Culture. As Mels starts to hang out with the local Hipsters we are taken on a song and dance extravaganza that explores what people will do for love; the love of music, the love of freedom.

Reflecting on Hipsters Todorovsky remarks, "Things considered normal in other countries need to be won here through struggle. There were times when walking around in coloured socks was a heroic deed. And this is not a problem of today, but an eternal problem."

This is What's Happening To Me, Vice, Hipsters

Published June 27, 2013

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A Long and Happy Life

Chauvel, Paddington 
& Event Cinemas, Burwood
24 July - 7 August

Palace Como
3 July - 14 July

Palace Centro
25 July - 4 August

Palace Electric Cinema
16 July - 21 July

Cinema Paradiso
1- 11 August

Palace Byron Bay
2 - 4 August

My Stepbrother Frankenstein

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