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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

Saturday, Oct. 25


AVA Expo, the eighth edition of the event revolving around all things pop, returns to Lenexpo this weekend. Geeks, nerds, dweebs and dorks will have their chance to talk science fiction and explore a variety of international pop culture. Tickets for the event can be purchased on their website at avaexpo.ru.



Sunday, Oct. 26


Zenit St. Petersburg returns home for the first time in nearly a month as they host Mordovia Saransk in a Russian Premier League game. Currently at the top of the league thanks to their undefeated start to the season, the northern club hopes to extend the gap between them and second-place CSKA Moscow and win the title for the first time in three years. Tickets are available at the stadium box office or on the clubs website.



Monday, Oct. 27


Today marks the end of the art exhibit Neophobia at the Erarta Museum. Artists Alexey Semichov and Andrei Kuzmin took a neo-modernist approach to represent the array of fears that are ever-present throughout our lives. Tickets are 200 rubles ($4.90).



Tuesday, Oct. 28


The Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel plays host to SPIBAs Marketing and Communications Committees round table discussion on Government Relations Practices in Russia this morning. The discussion starts at 9:30 a.m. and participation must be confirmed by Oct. 24.



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