Soviet-era film makes big screen debut

“Indifference” (Bezrazlichie), a black and white movie shot in 1989 in the dying days of the Soviet Union and only recently completed by its director, Oleg Flyangolts, took picture kudos as Kinotavr, Russia’s national film festival, closed on Saturday.

Starring Fedor Bondarchuk, now a director and producer known for his trade-mark bald head, but then a young actor with a full head of hair, the film threw many veteran Russian cineastes who were slow to recognise him.

Kinotavr topper Alexander Rodnyansky admitted the award was a compromise decision by a jury split over a competition lineup that included both arthouse and commercial films for the first time.

Sitora Alieva, fest artistic director, said the decision to include more commercial films was prompted by the rising quality and professionalism of Russian-made movies aimed at wider audiences.

Director prize went to Bakur Bakuradze for “The Hunter,” one of two Russian entries at Un Certain Regard in Cannes last month. Film also won the actress honor for Tatiana Shapovalova. She’s a non-professional in a cast largely drawn from locals in the rural area where it was shot.Best debut was to Konstantin Buslov’s million Euro heist action debut “Dosh” – reflecting the differing tastes of a jury headed by veteran screenwriter-director Alexander Mindadze (whose Chernobyl drama “Innocent Saturday” was in Berlin competition this year) but that also included younger Russian filmmakers.

The actor winner was Konstantin Yushkevich, who played one of a troupe of touring actors in Viktor Shampirov’s “The Practice of Beauty.” Script prize went to Shampirov, Yushkevish and Gosha Kutsenko for the same film.Best cinematography went to DoP Iben Bull for “Twilight Portrait,” New York-based Angelina Nikonova’s feature debut. The film, which details the complex masochistic relationship a young woman (played by Olga Dykhovichnaya who co-wrote the script) has with a police officer after being raped by one of his colleagues, shocked and divided critics at the festival.

Best music went to Alexander Manotskov for Dmitri Povolotsky’s charming end-of-Soviet-era tale “My Father Baryshnikov” — a sort of Russian “Billy Elliot” meets “Goodbye Lenin!” about a boy at a dance school who fantasizes that his father was the famous dissident Russian ballet dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov.

A special jury prize went to actress Oksana Fandera for her “unique beauty and talent” playing a brothel madam in late 1950s Odessa in Alexander Gordon’s “Brothel Lights.”

Fest closed with a screening of Andrei Zvyagintsev’s Un Certain Regard player “Elena,” about a housekeeper-turned wife of a wealthy man who comes up with a disturbing plan after he writes a will leaving most of his property to his daughter.

Most fest buzz this year was around the short film section winner, Mikhail Segal’s 28-minute “Fastener Solutions” about a couple who wish to avoid what they fear is the grey inevitability of life. The film was so popular that a special, second screening, was put on after its award was announced earlier in the week.

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