Moscow fetes ‘Cuckoo,’ ‘Resurrection’

Hunter, Stone, Bisset, Keitel attend

MOSCOW — The 24th Moscow’s Intl. Film Fest wrapped Sunday night with major awards going to local pics for the first time in many years.

Much anticipated by local critics, and well-received at Cannes, Alexander Rogozhkin’s “The Cuckoo” took main prizes for director and actor for Finnish thesp Wille Haapsalo. Pic also captured the FIPRESCI award (shared with Poland’s Krzysztof Zanussi for his “Supplement”), as well as the local audience prize and the Russian Film Club’s top award.

Surprisingly, “Cuckoo” did not take fest’s top Grand Prix. Instead the nod went to “Resurrection,” a three-hour-long adaptation of the classic Tolstoy novel from Italian brothers Paolo and Vittorio Taviani.

Celeb guests included Harvey Keitel, who received the Konstantin Stanislavsky lifetime achievement award, Holly Hunter, Sharon Stone and Jacqueline Bisset.

However, there was controversy on the last day of the fest when the jury of the Russian Film Critics Guild criticized the standard of competition films.

They stressed that the inclusion of another Russian film, helmer Roman Pregunov’s debut pic “Solitude of Blood,” in the main program was an error. Festival programmers countered in a heated exchange of opinions that left many foreign observers bewildered.

The atmosphere at the event’s closing, held in Moscow’s Pushkinsky Theater under tight security, was strained. Presented by jury prexy Chingiz Aitmatov, the ceremony was so under-rehearsed that at times it had the packed house breaking out in laughter.

Other awards went to Japan’s Mikako Ichikawa (best actress for her lead role in “Blue”), and to Iran’s Vahid Mousaian, who received a special jury prize for his “Wishes of the Land.”

Local press criticism aside, fest organization continued to improve, with hardly any program cancellations, and a general thumbs up for the quality of sidebar fare.

Comp jury members were Hong Kong indie helmer Fruit Chan, Iran’s Rakhshan Bani Etemad, Austria’s Jessica Hausner and Holland’s Jos Stelling, alongside French designer Dominique Borg, scribe Randa Haines and Russia’s Karen Shakhnazarov, who also heads top local studio, Mosfilm.

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