Moscow elite attend Mikhalkov's pic premiere

MOSCOW — Saturday’s world premiere here of Nikita Mikhalkov’s pic, “The Barber of Siberia,” proved that the lines between Russia’s conflicting political factions can be blurred by a blockbuster film.

The helmer, speaking on stage, jokingly recalled one of Lenin’s classic phrases — “of all the arts, film is the most important” — as he expressed hope that his $45 million offering would indeed unite those who had come to watch it.

The assembled company comprised a “Who’s Who” of Russian politics, business and cultural circles. Guests included current Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov, his predecessor Victor Chernomydrin, the previous Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev — who received one of the evening’s biggest rounds of applause — defense ministers, leaders of most of parliament’s main parties, and influential business moguls Vladimir Potanin and Boris Berezovsky.

Foreign guests in the 4,500-seat hall were headed by the film’s lead star, Julia Ormond, as well as Shirley MacLaine, long-term friend of Mikhalkov’s brother Andron Konchalovsky (“Odyssey”), Michael Seydoux, French co-producer on the pic, and overseas distribution agents.

“Barber’s” premiere was the first time since 1974 that the venue, located within Moscow’s Kremlin complex, had been used for a film screening. An estimated $1 million had been spent installing Panavision and Dolby Surround facilities to create a huge screen, 28 by 11 meters in dimension.

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