MOSCOW — The 28th annual Moscow Film Festival, which runs in the Russian capital June 23-July 2, hasn’t exactly garnered the fruits of the territory’s rapidly growing industry: There’s only one local pic, Alexei Muradov’s “The Worm,” in the prime competition lineup of 17 films.
Beyond local representation, the event is also lacking a jury president after Austrian helmer Michael Haneke pulled out; no substitute has been named yet. Clearly upset with Haneke’s move, fest organizers will be arguing their position to the director in an open letter to be published in the Austrian press.
Local critics are musing as to why the Moscow event has so ignored local fare — not least because national festival Kinotavr earlier this month collected a substantial bill of quality domestic product, with many pics that are sure to feature on the international fest scene this year.
Among them is Alexander Rogozhkin’s WWII drama “Transit,” which plays at Karlovy Vary in July. Moscow selectors — whose squad has seen major changes over the last year, including the departure of chief Kirill Razlogov — continue to avoid pics that have been shown at local fests and said they hadn’t seen quality pics they might have wanted.
Confirmed jury members include Russian helmer Alexei Uchitel (director of last year’s fest winner, “Dreaming of Space”), thesps Julie Christie and Remy Girard, Polish director Andrzej Zulawski and French critic-producer Pierre-Henri Deleau.
The competish is traditionally tilted slightly toward Euro fare; this year’s lineup includes new work from helmers including France’s Bertrand Blier (“How Much Do You Love Me?”), Hungary’s Istvan Szabo (“Relatives”) and Chile’s Raoul Ruiz (“Klimt”).
Sole U.S. entry is Robert Towne’s “Ask the Dust.” Britain’s Jeremy Brock’s “Driving Lessons” completes the English-language lineup.
Parallel debut competish “Perspectives,” to be judged by Czech helmer Petr Zelenka, Macedonian actress Labina Mitevska and Russian director Nikolai Lebedev, includes more local product, led by Mikhail Segal’s WWII occupation film “Franz+Polina,” as well as “The Lighthouse,” about a more contemporary conflict in the Caucasus, and “Spring” from Uzbek director Yolkin Tuychiev.
Fest has added a world documentary program and shifted to the Oktyabr multiplex on Moscow’s New Arbat Street.
Opening film will be Chen Kaige’s “The Promise,” with the Chinese helmer to be feted with a lifetime achievement award. Closing pic will be Pedro Almodovar’s “Volver,” and the traditional Konstantin Stanislavsky I Believe! Award is skedded to go to Gerard Depardieu.