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Russian Films in London

Comedy and drama share billing at 7th Russian Film Festival.

Published: November 20, 2013 (Issue # 1787)



  • Winter Journey directed by Sergei Taramayev and Liubov Lvova took top honors at the 7th Russian Film Festival.
    Photo: For SPT

The 7th Russian Film Festival organized and hosted by the Academia Rossica concluded its eclectic ten-day banquet of contemporary Russian cinema on Nov. 17 with a closing ceremony at the May Fair Hotel in London. The yearly festival brought together a choice selection of the best and most recent in contemporary Russian cinema, documentary and animation to U.K. audiences and Russian expats in London.

For many of those attending, perhaps understandably unfamiliar with the state of the independent film scene in Russia but curious to see for themselves a piece of the abstruse Russian soul away from media headlines of Sochi, Putin and Pussy Riot, the question of what Russian contemporary cinema has to offer was perhaps uppermost in their minds.

Despite the fact that Russias historic contribution to world cinema has been substantial, with names such as Eisenstein, Tarkovsky and Kalatozov easily conjured by the cinephile, Russian cinema remains a fringe of sorts.

Russian comedy films in particular are in need of a resurgence. Indeed, dramas exploring the more intense and strained side of the human lot is what Russia is best known for. The fact that Russian humour can also be difficult for foreign audiences makes it a hard sell. So much so, that during the festival screenings Russian members of the audiences laughed at different scenes than the non-Russian speakers in attendance.

But it was comedy that opened the festival. Bite The Dust, directed by Taisia Igumentseva, is the product of her winning first prize at last years Cinéfondation in Cannes. The film is set in a small rural Russian village where the matter-of-fact announcement of an impending massive coronal emission that will wipe out all but ten percent of humanity leaves the bafflingly unfazed neighbors no better option than to mark their last night on earth with a traditional Russian banquet. Repressed desires for the neighbors spouse, self-resignation to circumstance and personal loss from each characters pasts are suddenly allowed expression during this now-or-never evening.

Winter Journey, directed by Sergei Taramaev and Liubov Lvova, is a controversial and brave film that tells the story of a young classical singer Erik (Aleksei Frandetti), who is preparing to sing an excerpt from Schuberts Winterreise for an important audition, and whose life changes when he meets Lyokha (Evgeny Tkachuk), a pretty criminal from the provinces with an alarmingly self-destructive disposition teetering on the psychotic. The relationship between the two develops over the three days in which the film is set, as Lyokha becomes acquainted with Eriks world amid the underground gay scene populated by unsavoury middle class professionals, a world apart from Lyokhas life of homelessness on Moscows streets.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Oct. 31


Put your grammar and logical thinking to the test in a fun and friendly environment during the British Book Centers Board Game Evening starting at 5 p.m. today. The event is free and all are welcome to attend.



Saturday, Nov. 1


The men and women who dedicate their lives to fitness get their chance to compete for the title of best body in Russia at todays Grand Prix Fitness House PRO, the nations premier bodybuilding competition. Not only will men and women be competing for thousands of dollars in prizes and a trip to represent their nation at Mr. Olympia but sporting goods and nutritional supplements will also be available for sale. Learn more about the culture of the Indian subcontinent during Diwali, the annual festival of lights that will be celebrated in St. Petersburg this weekend at the Culture Palace on Tambovskaya Ul. For 100 rubles ($2.40), festival-goers listen to Indian music, try on traditional Indian outfits and sample dishes highlighting the culinary diversity of the billion-plus people in the South Asian superpower.



Sunday, Nov. 2


Check out the latest video and interactive games at the Gaming Festival at the Mayakovsky Library ending today. Meet with the developers of the popular and learn more about their work, or learn how to play one of their creations with the opportunity to ask the creators themselves about the exact rules.



Monday, Nov. 3


Non-athletes can get feed their need for competition without breaking a sweat at the Rock-Paper-Scissors tournament this evening at the Cube Bar at Lomonosova 1. Referees will judge the validity of each matchup award points to winners while the citys elite fight for the chance to be called the best of the best. Those hoping to play must arrange a team beforehand and pay 200 rubles ($4.80) to enter.



Tuesday, Nov. 4


Attend the premiere of Canadian director Xavier Dolans latest film Mommy at the Avrora theater this evening. The fifth picture from the 25-year-old, it is the story of an unruly teenager but the most alluring (or unappealing) aspect is the way the film was shot: in a 1:1 format that is more reminiscent of Instagram videos than cinematic art. Tickets cost 400 rubles ($9.60) and snacks and drinks will be available.



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