Perhaps one of the most interesting of small festivals that take place in Russia is the International Festival of Independent Cinema entitled 2morrow/Завтра. A relatively small and young festival (now in its seventh edition), it was the brainchild of the late Russian film director Ivan Dykhovichny and is now run by his widow Olga and film director Angelina Nikonova. It concentrates on bringing to the Moscow public some of the more interesting festival hits of recent months and other occasional retrospectives and sections which can be just as inspiring as the main fare. For all the smallness of its size, it is far fresher in many ways than the unwieldy Moscow International Film Festival in June. Simply because it has no need to protect its reputation, its reputation seems to grow year by year.
The Chelyabinsk film-maker Vladimir Kozlov Десятка (Ten) made a weaker film that only started to come alive towards the end but on such minute amounts of money that suggest that for all its problems with its drammaturgical effectiveness, the director may have some future ahead of him. Now preparing a film on Siberian punk rock, this film maker may begin to smooth out the uneveness of his debut film.
Finally, in terms of Russian input there was a retrospective of Artur Aristaskisyan. An Armenian-Russian film director with only two major films to his name (and both made well over a decade ago), these films proved sufficient to inspire very high plaudits for having chosen Aristaskisyan to highlight. My trip to his first 1994 film Ладони (Palms) was one of the most rewarding moments of the festival. A '"relentless depiction of life at the margin" as Graeme Hobbs has argued it challenges us to rethink cinema in a way that is so rare these days. Full of impossible stories it enforces a necessary shame on the viewer for days after. Aristaskisyan has since become a particular kind of dissident activist unco-opted by some of the less welcome recent trends in the Russian opposition. Searching to forge a genuine opposition and dissidence, Aristaskisyan seems to have abandoned cinema by trying to find new ways of forging his vision. It certainly seems a loss to cinema though.