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Monday, 23 June 2014

Film links between Russia and Latin America: Some projects.

While the Moscow International Film festival may not be so much of a talking shop as many other festivals (most of it taking place at the central multiplex Oktyabr cinema on the Arbat), the Moscow Business Square is a different matter. As I mentioned in my previous post the main focus this year was Latin America and it was an opportunity to explore what kind of topics and what kind of themes might unite the two. In many ways this may be a window of opportunity to link two parts of the world that may not be as distant as they seem. The number of possible projects were sizable and their variety also noticeable. Apart from the prospect of a historical thriller The Chosen produced by Monica Lozano (the producer of some of the most internationally recognised Mexican films including Amores Perros) on the assassination of Leon Trotsky there are a number of other projects linking Latin American and Russian themes (or of Latin Americans who wish to make Russian-based films).

Monica Lozano, producer of Amores perros who is hoping to produce a historical thriller on the assassination of Leon Trotsky.

Another significant project which though being a fairly low budget film is likely to generate interest is an art house science fiction by Andre Arancibia and produced by Felipe Aichele and which aims to be shot both in Chile and in Russia (in Karelia). Aichele worked in the art team of the first HBO production in Chile Profugos and Arancibia has studied in film schools both in his native Chile and in the Czech Republic. Their proposed film Incarnation set in the year 2067 aims to use the backdrop of the global extinction of bees as an exploration of the theme of the deepest insecurities of the human mind and emotions. Karelia has been chosen as the location where a scientist from Chile arrives to discover why bees in this part of the world have not become extinct (it is a fact, as the director told me, that Karelia is the only place in the world where the bee population is growing). The film aims to be aesthetically radical too with the visual narrative as important as the actual story (using techniques of dynamic montage, and creative use of visual components such as space, line, shape, colour, movement and rhythm to create tensions and releases through the story). They aim to recreate a Tarkovskian Stalker- like atmosphere. Linking Chile with Russia in the cinematic imaginary is not new and has been associated with some of the most interesting films of recent years. The great Russian documentary filmmaker Kossakovsky in his !Vivan las antipodas! explored this in his portraits of Baikal Lake and Chilean Patagonia as one of his antipodean pairs and Aleksei Fedorchenko in his mockumentary Первые на Луне (First on the Moon) has the Soviet cosmopilot who travels to the moon in 1938 land back in Chile where the Zelig-like character travels back via the Pacific, China and Mongolia to the Stalinist Soviet Union. The hope that Aichele and Arancibia will be able to produce something of equal power re-conceptualising the Latin American-Russian imaginary makes this one of the most fascinating projects presented here.

One of the projects that producer of the Chilean-Russian film project 'Incarnation', Felipe Aichele, has worked on.

A documentary project on the little known wife of one of the icons of the Brazilian Communist Party Luis Carlos Prestes could also make for a fascinating story. Maria Prestes who spent 10 years living in Moscow near where the present Macdonalds stands at Tverskaya Street. As a portrait of an little known woman who lived at the centre of the most extraordinary historical moments of two very different countries this film has a potential for opening up the many stories of Latin Americans who visited the Soviet Union. Much has been written about the Europeans and North Americans who came to the Soviet Union and their illusions and cruel awakenings.

Maria Prestes- subjected of a new proposed documentary to be shot in Brazil and Russia.

It is surely time that the story of Latin Americans experience of the Soviet experience also came to the fore. Christiano Sensi's (director) and Micelli Crestani's (producer) Oranya -another Brazilian film, this time a feature film - also explores the story of migration and refugees between Russian, Europe and Sao Paolo. Here migration is from Europe and Russia to Brazil and tells the story of a Russian pilot and a Brazilian accountant who help the refugees reach the south American country.

The shot of chess player Carlos Torre from Pudovkin's Chess Fever

Roberto Garza and Juan Obregon also have a project that appears promising. Another documentary which links the world of chess, the two continents and a character who briefly appears in the Pudovkin film Chess Fever. Carlos Torre was also said to be a prototype for Nabokov (who was also discovered in one shot of the Pudovkin film). and was to come to the Soviet Union at Lenin's behest to write a book on chess. His chess career cut short by mental illness this film promises to be one in a long list of recent films proving that chess is strangely becoming one of the most cinematographic of sports.

Moscow Business Square was also the occasion for a pitching of a crop of new Russian documentaries and the occasion for the presentation of other Russian-themes film projects including a potentially fascinating film on the unknown world of alternative Soviet music called Soviet Groove. On these projects I will write separately in my next posts.

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