Venice prize-winner wins main kudo

MOSCOW — Russia’s second Golden Eagle awards were handed out at the main production facility, Mosfilm, Saturday in a ceremony that heralds the country’s return to the European production scene.

Film kudos went — as widely predicted — to Venice prize-winner Andrei Zvagintsev’s “The Return,” which also took prizes for cinematography and sound editing.

The main surprise was a hefty international directorial presence including Milos Forman, who flew in at the last moment to collect a Lifetime Achievement award, and Franco Zefferelli, who awarded the director prize to Vadim Abdrashitov for his “Magnetic Storms.”

“When the Eagle invites, you have to come,” Forman said, remembering his viewing of a film by Soviet helmer Mark Donskoi 50 years ago. “I am really honored by the award, because it is given by the colleagues of Eisenstein, Pudovkin, and Tarkovsky.”

Shortly before that, Poland’s Andrzej Wajda had handed out the Foreign Film award to Roman Polanski’s “The Pianist” — also remembering his own first appearance at Mosfilm 49 years earlier.

In a moving moment richly greeted by attendees, Wajda sent a message to fellow Polish helmer Polanski in his own language.

Other prizes went to Vitaly Melnikov’s historical drama “Poor, Poor Pavel,” which took supporting actor (Oleg Yankovsky), design, costume and music awards.

From TV players, pubcaster Rossiya — whose production facility is headed by director Valery Todorovsky (“Country of the Deaf”) — came away with TV Film for its adaptation of Dostoyevsky’s “The Idiot,” which also won actor (Yevgeny Mironov) and supporting actress (Inna Churikova) gongs.

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