WITH a variety of genres on show at the Russian Film Festival, there’s a bit of everything for any cinema goer looking to expand their knowledge of Russian films. Daniel Driscoll fills you in on the festival and lets you know about some of the films worth catching.
The Russian Film Festival returns for its 11th year and is the largest celebration of Russian cinema outside of Russia. On show will be a lineup of 20 films from a variety of genres, showcasing the best of Russia’s film industry.
Originally established to support the growing Russian film industry and to showcase the talent of Russian filmmakers and actors on a global scale, the Russian Film Festival has grown to be a regular celebration of Russian film as part of the Melbourne cinema calendar. The growing popularity of the festival will also see it showing in New Zealand for the first time.
The festival showcases some of the best films to come out of Russia’s film industry and pays homage to the finest examples of the country’s vibrant movie culture.
This year’s Festival will also commemorate the 90th anniversary of Mosfilm – Russia’s inaugural film studio with six retrospective features and 14 brand new films showing. A host of genres and styles will be on offer with drama, horror-fantasy, action and even a 3D cartoon on show so if you’re a fan of Russian cinema then the event is not to be missed.
Nicholas Maksymow, the Festival’s Managing Director had this to say about the festival:
“I am proud and honoured to share the best of Russian cinema with Australian & New Zealand audiences. With over 65,000 people having attended the event since our 2003 commencement, it seems Australians really do appreciate what the Russian film industry has to offer. I can’t wait for them to experience the wonderful films we have sourced for our 2014 programme.”
To help you sort out what to catch, we’ve taken a look at what’s on offer and chosen a selection to help you decide!
The Festival will open with Vasilisa, a sweeping romanticised story of 19th century Russia.
Set in Napoleonic times, the film features lavish costumes, large scale battle scenes, an evocative score and a love story between Ivan, a nobleman, and Vasilisa, a beautiful serf. Part action, part romance, it’s the perfect date film!
Test tells the story of the first nuclear bomb test, conducted at Semipalatinsk, in northeast Kazakhstan in 1949. A father and daughter live in the steppe and their routine life remains uninterrupted. The father goes to work and the daughter stays at home. One day something appears far on the horizon – an explosion.
Featuring virtually no dialogue, director Alexander Kott had this to say about his film: “This film is for those who love looking, for those who remember that the cinema is, before all, an image. And when cinema was invented, it was without words.”
Stalingrad retells the story of the epic battle between Russian and German forces that turned the tide of World War II.
A band of determined Russian soldiers fight to hold a strategic building in their devastated city against a ruthless German army led by Kapitan Kan (Thomas Kretschmann). The film will be screening in 3D, enhancing the sheer scale of the battle in contrast with the human drama of the ground combat.
VIY is a big budget dark fantasy loosely based on writer Nikolai Gogol’s classic tale of gothic horror. It was released earlier this year in Russia and was a hit with audiences.
At the beginning of the 18th century, cartographer Jonathan Green (Jason Flemyng) undertakes a scientific voyage from Western Europe to the East. When he passes through Transylvania he finds himself in a small, strange village lost in the Ukrainian backwoods. His troubles begin when he finds out that the evil the village has kept hidden from the world is waiting for an appropriate oppurtunity to awaken.
Dersu Uzala forms part of the retrospective program at this year’s festival. Winner of the 1976 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, this cross production between Japan and Russia (then the Soviet Union), is directed by the legendary, Akira Kurosawa.
Set in the Far East of Russia, it is a moving portrait of friendship and the difficulties people sometimes face in adapting to life changing around them. Dersu Uzala sees an elderly guide who at the turn of the 20th century, agrees to shepherd a Russian explorer and a troop of soldiers through the wilderness. Using his local knowledge, the guide is able to save his party from being harmed by the dangers that lurk in the vast region.