Moscow Scales Back Ambitions

Troubled in recent years by creative and financial problems, this year’s Moscow Intl. Film Festival will be less ambitious and more realistic in scope.

After the boom of the perestroika years, Moscow is no longer de rigueur on the international festival circuit. Planners have scaled down and refocused their efforts accordingly. This year’s event unspools July 17-28.

Although its main section will still show 12-18 films, organizers have opted to relax entry rules; the fest now is willing to include any film released in the last two years, and that has already been shown at other festivals in out-of-competition or panorama categories.

Cash prizes for best film, director and male and female perf will range from $20,000 to $50,000. Total budget for the fest was estimated by its organizers at $13 million, a figure which does not include the costs of adapting some Moscow cinemas for full Dolby sound.

Supporting the main competition program will be a series of panorama and retrospective sections, including post-Soviet films of directors who work abroad and a 10-film retro of masterpieces of world cinema.

Russian actor Alexander Abdulon was tapped as director of the Moscow Fest 1995, while Sergei Solovyev, currently president of the Russian Filmmakers Union, will be president. The presidential council includes directors Nikita Mikhalkov, Andron Konchalovsky and Gleb Panfilov, with the mayor of Moscow, Yury Luzhkov, and Armen Medvedev of Roskomkino also taking part.

Head of the festival’s selection committee will be Miron Chernenko, president of Russia’s Guild of Film Critics. The festival jury will be announced later.

Former “Baywatch” star Nicole Eggert has signed to star in “Melissa,” a Nelson/Snow Entertainment production of a Shelter/Le Mos film.

The role marks Eggert’s first leading role in a motion picture since leaving the international hit TV series in December ’93. The psychological thriller begins lensing in New York March 18.

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