The main festival season in Russia has got underway with the first main film festival of the summer - Kinotavr - recently concluding in Sochi. In recent years it has made some innovative choices and a look back at the history of its prizes suggests that it gets things right some but not all of the time. This year the award of the main prize to Pavel Ruminov to his film Я буду рядом (I'll be by your side) has united all critics in their consternation at this average film - shot in reality in conjunction as a TV serial -being granted the main prize. The far more noteworthy new film by Sigarev (already noted in recent international film festivals such as Rotterdam and Wiesbaden - and written about here http://giuvivrussianfilm.blogspot.com/2012/05/vasily-sigarev.html) was given only the consolatory Directors' Prize. as well as that for the best camera work.
Other prizes went to the two actresses in Avdotia Smirnova's watchable but frankly superficial and cliche' ridden 'Kokoko'. The jury also completely failed to notice the innovative new work by Svetlana Baskova- a director who has worked in the field of Extreme Underground and has now branched out into a much more politically engaged direction. Her film - За Маркса... (For Marx...) produced by her husband the well-known radical artist-Anatoly Osmolovsky - developed quite a furore at the festival. Apart from returning to a hidden theme - the working class and independent trade unionism- rarely touched upon in post-Soviet times (the last film on the working class in post Soviet Russia could be said to be Vadim Abdrashitov's Магнитные бури (Magnetic Storms) which dealt with the subject in a kind of fantastic realist way) it tried to fulfill a number of aesthetic choices too. A Brechtian left formalism etrying to unite socialist realism with Deleuzian constructs may not appeal to many conventional viewers but it certainly sounds an innovative new direction and hopefully I'll be able to comment further on this director in the near future on this blog.
Other films in the film festival that probably deserved more of a hearing included the film by the Kuzbass born director Aleksei Mizgirev «Конвой» (Convoy). His earlier 2009 film Бубен, барабан (Buben, Baraban) showed some great promise and Convoy, produced by Pavel Lungin, has already debuted at the Berlin Film Festival. Mikhail Segal's comedy Рассказы (Tales) - a film-almanac of four separate stories- has been written about by Novaya Gazeta's Larisa Maliukova here www.novayagazeta.ru/arts/52986.html Pavel Kostomarov and Aleksander Rastorguev have continued their documentary project with a sequel to Я тебя люблю (I love you) named Я тебя не люблю (I don't love you). According to Maliukova this, along with Baskova's film, represented the most radical artistic experiment shown at the festival.
The next main festival here in Russia is the Moscow International Film Festival which I hope to comment on at length (if I'm granted accreditation) and then the Odessa Film Festival which is to take place two weeks later will most definitely be given my full attention here. A chance to watch some Ukrainian cinema as well as the new Renata Litvinova feature among others will mean that my blog will be a more regular affair over the next month. In the meantime here is the trailer of Baskova's film 'For Marx...'.