ST PETERSBURG: A colloquium on contemporary Russian film organised together with FIPRESCI took place from 13-15 November 2017 at Lenfilm Studios in the run-up to the St Petersburg Cultural Forum which took place on 16-18 November this year. The event took place within the framework of the forum.
As a result of the event the group attending the event decided to found a new award the East West Golden Arch for films from central and Eastern Europe as well as from Central Asia and Russia. The first edition of the award is expected early next year according to organisers Andrei Plakhov and Sasha Ahmadshina.
The colloquium was attended by international film critics including British film critic Anna Franklin, and selectors of films for important international film festivals. Other film critics included The key speakers at the event include Alyssa Simon, curator of International Festivals in Palm Springs, Chicago and Dubai and film critic of Variety, The Village Voice, and CinemaScope; Godfrey Cheshire, Consultant at MOMA (Museum of Modern Art) (New York, USA) and author of Film Comment, Sight & Sound, New York Times and many others. The delegation will be headed by Deputy General Secretary of FIPRESCI, György Kárpáti (Hungary) and Andrey Plakhov, honorary president of FIPRESCI.
The group was able to see a selection of contemporary Russian films as well as meeting and speaking with a number of the producers and directos who were on hand to present the films.
FIPRESCI Critics Share Their Opinions about Russian Film With FNE
After having a chance to watch a number of new, contemporary Russian films during the colloquium a number of the FIPRESCI critics present shared their impressions with FNE.
Chairman of Fipresci Serbian Branch
Being in St. Peterburg on the occassion of the centennial of crucial historical events and Sixth Cultural Forum, with such a firework of amazing happenings in almost every field of art and culture was the fascinating experience. The Colloquium itself has been less than a window into the new Russian film but a keen and highly professionaly thought out profile of main streams, genres and personalities of the contemporary Russian cinema. Introduced by Balabanov's Of Freaks and Men just to remind where and and how the disease of the century began, this survey showed the highlights of three main trends of the production – arthouse, commercial and regional (and Eurasian) production. With Closeness and Sella Turcica leading the first, Salyut 7 and Attraction the second and My Killer and again Closeness the third division (sort of an extension of Sokurov's practice to Caucasus) we could see and consider how Russian film has been emerging again to the important and influential position. It was facing, however, a dramatic urge for wider distribition - moving ahead from festivals, clubs and cable towads commercial theatres and public television. Films made by minority and for minority, as some define indie film today, are no longer the priority in Russia: ambitions are greater. Films like Salyt and Attraction were made to face world box office challenges. This is why such a Colloquium or review made for foreign film press would be important and might transform into an institutional event. Perfect organization, warm hospitability and keen attendance of the entire crew strongly supported that idea.
A short statement on the Russian film Closeness
The best film programmed was Closeness (which I first saw in Cannes), featuring, among many things, not one but two strong female
portraits, where one (the mother) sticks hard to tradition, whereas the other (the daughter) wants to break loose. Already in his debut, director Kantemir Balagov demonstrates mature and challenging imagery, and it’s further gratifying to learn that he is, to a certain extent, a ”product” of Alexander Sokurov’s film programme, aimed at the decentralizing Russian film industry – an ambition that many countries should aspire to and benefit from – and a fact that seem to give Closeness a specific personal flavour.
Caslos de Almeida
I am still amazed by the ideia of someone so young delivering such a solid and refreshing drama as “Closeness”. Kantemir Balagov was about 24 years old when started preparing to shoot his first film, a complex story mixing ethnical, religious and gender issues, set against the dry landscape of jewish enclave in North Caucasus region. Aleksandr Sokurov produced and supervisioned the project, but istill is the Balagov’ sensibility who feeds and shape such emotional experience.
I hope all of you have returned home safely. Thank you again for coming to St Petersburg. It seems we made the very First colloquium dedicated to Russian cinema happen! And it was really inspiring for us.
HERE you can see some pictures we have made at the Colloquium.