The Russian Resurrection Film Festival kicks off at the end of this month, boasting a packed programme of the best Russian cinema. Scoop caught up with festival director Nicholas Maksymow to get his top 5 picks of this year’s event.
1. The Bolshoi
I was lucky enough to see the film at its world premiere in Moscow, earlier this year. It was a surreal experience; watching a film premiere on its actual set at the grand and imperial Bolshoi Theatre. Never in history has the actual stage been used for a film, so the fact that the crew were only given 6 days to capture the intricate and grand art form of ballet on this historical spot is all the more impressive. At first glance Todorovsky’s film seems to be a simple story of a group of ballet dancers striving to be selected to perform with the renowned Bolshoi Company. But it evolves into a captivating coming-of-age story, entwining past and present to fully engage the audience with the characters on the screen. This movie has a kind of sympathy to the lives of real people that seems to be lacking in many films of today, making it both moving and entertaining.
Blockbuster is something really different as Russian movies go. This film is a black comedy/road movie about two young women on the run and the unlikely friendship that develops as a result of some quirky and bizarre events. It might sound like your typical American indie film that becomes a box office hit – hence the pun-laden title of Blockbuster – but what makes the film work is the fast pace, a weird, but catchy soundtrack and the two lead characters played by some truly superb actresses. Most importantly, it’s a lot of fun!
3. Cold Tango
Cold Tango embraces the style of movie that Russians do really well. A hard-hitting drama based on factual events in World War II; the film brings to life the harrowing realities of what it is like to live in a country dominated by oppressive regimes. It is an unusual story of friendship, love and hate, depicting the spirit of people whose lives are far from what they would have dreamed of. What resonates is the story, which unfolds at quite a rapid pace and portrays people realistically. A dark and gloomy chapter in history, told through a moving and captivating script.
Another film loosely based on a true story, Spacewalkers is a fresh take on the Cold War space race. A test-pilot and experienced war veteran are chosen to complete the first Soviet spacewalk mission above Earth and the brave men risk it all to achieve what has not been done before. Spacewalkers was produced by Russian and Hollywood producer/director Timur Bekhmambetov and stars two of Russia’s most renowned actors – Khabenskiy and Mironov. Aside from the acting – which is utter perfection – Spacewalkers also scores highly thanks to a succinct script, great soundtrack and wide appeal.
5. About Love. Adults Only.
I must admit I am a sucker when it comes to films which are comprised of short stories/novellas which gel together at the end to produce a film with meaning. About Love. Adults Only. tells separate stories exploring the notion of love, what makes it work and last forever. The film stars an ensemble of actors, including American actor/producer/director John Malkovich as well as Anna Mikhalkova, the talented daughter of the Oscar winning director Nikita Mikhalkov. All the stories are quite different – many are hilarious and outrageous, others are more subtle and heart-warming. Together, all these stories make About Love. Adults Only a truly enjoyable visit to the movies.
The Russian Resurrection Film Festival 2017 is at Luna Palace Cinemas from October 27-November 1. Find out more.