Russia’s ‘Boogie Bones’ hits AFM

Country's first-ever musical looking for suitors

MOSCOW — It’s cool, sexy and fun, is full of colorful costumes and has a soundtrack you can’t help tapping your feet to.

Russian musical “Boogie Bones” is treading the boards at AFM in its first international sales outing.

In a year in which “Mamma Mia!” tapped into nostalgia for the Abba sounds of the ’70s, Moscow indie production company Krasnaya Strela — Red Arrow — is hoping to hit targets at home and abroad with a feel-good 1950s sing-along.

Director Valery Todorovsky — who set up Krasnaya Strela with producer Vadim Goryainov and fellow director Dmitry Meskhiyev three years ago — wanted to tackle a genre that had been “unfairly forgotten in modern Russian cinema.”

The film brings to the screen the little-known but historically true story of 1950s Russian rock ‘n’ rollers in a way producers hope modern audiences — particularly teens — will respond to.

Goryainov, who screened a 20-minute clip for Eastern European buyers in October at Warsaw’s CentEast market, says the songs are versions of Russian hits from the 1980s rescored with a 1950s vibe.

The result is a movie that bridges generations with a repertoire of tunes and songs that are effectively fresh and, for international audiences, new.

“Boogie Bones,” due for a Moscow premiere Dec. 24 under its Russian title “Stilyagi,” combines choreographed musical scenes with a classic boy-meets-girl narrative.

It’s a sort of Russian “Happy Days” in which gray uniform-clad young Communists go around breaking up illicit rock ‘n’ roll parties until one of them, Mels, (Anton Shagin) falls in love with the exquisite Polza (Oksana Akinshina, who played Irena Neski in “The Bourne Supremacy”).

“Boogie Bones,” made on a $15 million budget, is full of humor and a joie de vivre often absent in Russian film.

With a Russian title that refers to the foppish dress styles of the boogie kids and English that is an oblique reference to the bootleg “samizdat” records the 1950s Russian rockers made from thick sheets of used hospital cellulose X-rays, “Boogie Bones” could tap the zeitgeist as an international breakout.

Central Partnership is screening the film for buyers at AFM.

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