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Russia will present a total of six pictures at the 5th Beijing International Film Festival, to be held April 16th–23rd. Sergey Mokritsky’s "The Battle For Sevastopol" and Ramil Salakhutdinov’s "White, White Night" are included in the main competition while Andrey Konchalovsky’s "The Postman’s White Nights," Alexander Mitta’s "Chagall – Malevich" and Mikhail Kosyrev-Nesterov’s "Journey to the Mother" will be screened in the festival’s sidebar. Roman Prygunov’s "Downshifter" has been selected for the Gala Premiere section.
Among the Beijing festival jury members is Fedor Bondarchuk, the prominent Russian filmmaker, actor, producer, and Chairman of the Lenfilm studio Board of Directors. Roskino provides Public Relations support for the heavy Russian presence at the 5th International Festival in Beijing.
Katya Mtsitouridze, Roskino CEO: “From this year on, the Beijing Festival will be curated by Marco Mueller, previously at the helm of the Venice Festival. It is his ardent love of Russian culture that we have to credit for launching international careers of such stellar young filmmakers as Ivan Vyrypaev, Kirill Serebrennikov, Alexey German Jr., and Alexey Fedorchenko. Venice has also honored many a luminary from Russia, ranging from Nikita Mikhalkov to Alexey Balabanov. Alexander Sokurov’s Faust even took the Golden Lion in 2011. This tradition lives on as we can see already, in Marco Mueller’s first year, six Russian movies at Beijing. The governments of our countries are currently collaborating to expand the Russian quotas in Chinese theatres, and Roskino’s first business trip to Beijing, with any luck, should be the next step in this direction. Over the last couple of years, China has made tremendous progress undermining, by its rapid growth, the Hollywood monopoly in the film industry. There is still plenty of room for improvement for us.”
Alyona Shumakova, member of the Selection Committee, Beijing International Film Festival: “We were faced with the tall order of presenting Russian film as a vital artistic force which reflects, at the same time, a dramatically changed reality. It is also worth bearing in mind that the huge audience of these films will consist mostly of regular moviegoers, besides the usual festival crowd of film buffs. We are, mind you, dealing with a country that knows very little about Russian cinema and has yet to develop a concrete image of it. I believe that our picks, with their magnificent visuals and emotional intensity, more than rise to the challenge and accurately reflect the new world we live in.”
At the 2014 Cannes Iff, "The Battle for Sevastopol" was first pitched to industry professionals and international press at the Russian Pavilion opening ceremony. A Russian–Ukrainian co-production, this period drama tells the story of Lyudmila Pavlichenko, a legendary WWII sniper. The wide release in Russia is scheduled for April 2nd, to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Liberation. The protagonist is played by the masterful thespian Yulia Peresild.
Sergei Mokritsky, director: “As I was making a movie about the most lethal female sniper of WWII, I didn’t even dare dream of an international premiere in Beijing. It is an honor as well as a huge responsibility. Overall, China is the closest in spirit, and yet most mysterious country for me as it is for every Russian. I’m really looking forward to the Chinese reception of my movie, because what I aspired to with it was a blend of Soviet war-film mythology, modern cinematic language, and typically Slavic zest for life.”
Ramil Salakhutdinov’s "White, White Night" tells the story of a young man who suddenly goes missing when he travels to Saint Petersburg for a concert. Sent over from Moscow, the private eye hired to locate him meets a lot of people during investigation, and gradually immerses himself in the bleak present-day atmosphere of the city he once lived in. Against his better judgment, the sleuth takes the guy under his wing, which ultimately validates him and boosts his own sense of self-worth. The movie first played in competition at the 2014 edition of Kinotavr.
Ramil Salakhutdinov, director: “I strove to understand––to feel––what it’s like to live in our trying times, in an era of profound change.”
Alexey German Jr., creative director: “It’s a huge victory for Ramil. He’s a wonderful filmmaker, a magnificent actor, and an artist of incredibly fine sensibilities. His recognition by the Biff proves yet again that Salakhutdinov’s work is appreciated internationally.”
In 2014, the film was awarded Silver Lion for Best Director at the Venice Film Festival. It recounts the life of a real man, village postman Alexey Tryapitsyn, who resides in the Arkhangelsk region and portrays himself on screen. Though a work of fiction rather than a documentary, the film has only one professional actress in its cast.
Mikhail Kosyrev-Nesterov’s drama "Journey to the Mother" is also playing in the festival’s parallel section. It is the story of a Russian guy who goes to France to see his mother, and meets his sister for the first time. The film’s leading actress is Adele Exarchopoulos, the star of Palme d’Or-winning "Blue Is the Warmest Color" and co-recipient of the Cannes festival’s highest honor.
Aleksandr Mitta’s "Chagall – Malevich" will play in the Special Screenings section. Set during Marc Chagall’s “Vitebsk period,” the story of an all-consuming love between the great artist and his wife Bella plays out against the backdrop of a historic duel he fought with Kazimir Malevich, his genius contemporary and fierce opponent.
Roman Prygunov’s "Downshifter" is set to bow internationally in the Gala Premiere section of the festival.
A sequel to the highest grossing Russian movie of 2012, "Downshifter" continues with the adventures of Max Andreev, a senior executive forced by the vicissitudes of his life to wipe the slate clean. The star of the production is Danila Kozlovsky, one of the most acclaimed actors of his generation. Made for $4M, the movie recouped its budget over the first weekend in theaters. Fedor Bondarchuk, who produced the box-office smash, currently predicts a final take north of $9M.
Russian filmmaker and producer Fedor Bondarchuk, whose historical drama "Stalingrad" was a runaway success in China in 2013, has been appointed a jury member for the 5 Beijing International Festival. He will share his duty with such directors as Ki-duk Kim (South Korea) and Fernando Meirelles (Brazil); screenwriter Robert Mark Kamen (USA); producer and director Peter Chan (Thailand); and Chinese actress, star of "Cloud Atlas," Zhou Xun. French director and producer Luc Besson, whose output in both capacities has long transcended the confines of local fame, will serve as President of the Jury. The festival program comprises 930 films from 90 countries. The festival’s top prize Tiantan is awarded in ten categories, including Best Film, Best Director, Best Actress, and Best Actor.
Fedor Bondarchuk, producer, filmmaker: “ I’m honored and humbled to be invited to serve as a jury member for the Beijing Iff. The strategic partnership between Russia and China is now reinforced not only in politics and economy but also in the cultural sphere, of which film is an integral part. Stalingrad’s impressive Chinese grosses show enormous demand for Russian filmmaking.”
Marco Mueller, Chief Adviser for the Beijing Iff: “Ever since Stalingrad dominated the Chinese box office in 2013 (it was the highest-grossing foreign film of the year, apart from the American “commercial heavy artillery”), the interest in Russian film has reached a new level in the country. I think that from this year on, our festival’s appreciation of Russian film will also move to the next level. This year our program boasts an amazing selection, and Fedor Bondarchuk has every chance to achieve cult status in China––he is, after all, already on the jury! I would also like to note that our cooperation with China is off to a highly professional start as the Russian presence at the festival is supported by the government-owned Roskino. It is this level of commitment that allows us to make serious plans for the future.” »
- Sydney Levine
1 item from 2015
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