CANNES – Russian movie support agency Roskino has been busy during Cannes. Among its varied activities, it has presented Global Russian, a selection of films in the Short Film Corner of the Cannes Market, the New Russian Cinema program, which is a selection of upcoming Russian films, and a slate of new projects emerging from the Russian market.
Attending the Global Russian event was Sergey Pikalov, whose film “The Last One” (pictured, below) is participating in Cannes’ official short films competition. The Russian-Azerbaijani co-production from Buta Films tells the tragicomic tale of the last remaining World War II veteran, and his complicated relationship with his fridge. The 15-minute philosophical parable is produced by Maria Ivanova and Nasib Piriyev.
Piriyev said: “When we started making the film, nobody was thinking about winning competitions or awards, so it is all the more rewarding to be recognized by the Cannes Film Festival.
“For me personally, it was really special to make my first feature film in my native country, Azerbaijan, and to have the opportunity to communicate to the audience, in a frank and truthful manner.
“What is really relevant to us are the lessons of the past, the connection between generations, loneliness in old age, and the importance of living and breathing, in spite of everything.”
Also included was Anton Bilzho’s “Mirrors of the Beautiful Lylia Voronstova,” a haunting visually-stylish ode to longing that follows a lonely receptionist who spends her days looking into mirrors and slowly losing her connection with reality.
Other shorts presented included Vadim Vatagin’s fast-paced thriller “The Snap”; fantasy “He Who Had Invented All This” from Yuri Chirkovskiy; newcomer Igor Olshansky’s “Easter,” focusing on the children of a Russian village left behind after the men head off to fight the Civil War; and Ivan Shakhnazarov’s “Rock,” which centers on a hapless rock group who suffer a road accident on their way to a make-or-break meeting with a record producer.
The New Russian Cinema presentation, curated by CEO Katya Mtsitouridze, showcased a range of films emerging from the Russian market.
The movies presented for the first time to distributors, sales companies, festival programmers and members of the press were: “My Little One,” directed by Sergey Dvortsevoy, winner of Un Сertain Regard at the Cannes Film Festival in 2008 for his film “Tulpan”; “Rudolf Nureyev. A Rebel Demon,” directed by Tatiana Malova; “Archipelago,” directed by Tatiana Voronetskaya”; and “Orlean,” directed by Andrey Proshkin.
Among the 10 new film projects emerging from the Russian market presented by Roskino were a biopic about Soviet sniper Lyudmila Pavlichenko, “The Battle for Sevastopol,” which is a co-production between Russia’s New People and Ukraine’s Kinorob; the 3D animation film “Quackerz”; and true-life tale “20 Lives.”
Mtsitouridze said: “We have chosen 10 projects for co-production out of 73 that were sent to Roskino. The most important thing was that each of those 10 producers has a clear vision about which kind of partnership is necessary and which goals should be pursuit. It doesn’t make any sense to start a project without understanding how it would be released.”
“Quackerz,” directed and co-written by Viktor Lakisov (“Viy 3D”), claims to be the first 3D animation film to come from Russia, with Rome Animation Studios teaming up with A-VFX Studios to re-tell the story of “Romeo & Juliet.”
The film includes 10 video-game sequences to immerse the audience in the story about rival duck clans, as Longwei, a young drake from the mandarin flock, and Erica, the daughter of the colonel in command of a mallard squadron fall in love.
“20 Lives” from Logos Film Company follows the heroic actions of champion swimmer Shavarsh Karapetyan, who on witnessing a bus hurtle from a bridge into an icy lake, dove into the depths to bring survivors to the surface, at huge personal expense. Peter Winther’s script depicts an inspirational true life tale of selfless heroism.
Producer Olga Sinelshchikova said: “A story of a man who has become a hero against his wishes, and saved dozens of lives told by the means of modern visual language and spectacular special effects will be understood by a wide audience, and we hope that international distributors will be interested in acquiring rights for different international territories.”
Dmitry Mamulia’s “Dogs. Desire. Death.,” produced by Igor Shulkin and Anna Aleshkovska, is another project seeking international co-production. The London-based drama follows intersecting characters each battling with the loneliness, love, and longing of modern life within a major city.
Meanwhile, Ivan Lopatin of Leevandia Entertainment presented Timofey Zhalnin’s suspenseful “The Disappearance,” which is a thriller depicting an unhappy couple lost in the Siberian wilderness, and forced to survive both the elements and the harsh realities of their failed relationship.
Timofey Zhalnin, the scriptwriter and the director, said: “The script is based on real events that occurred with a young couple lost in the Siberian taiga. This story is not only physical survival in the situation on the verge of life and death, but also psychological drama about the survival of people with a dead-end relationship. In a broad sense, it is a story about a man who wanted to outwit fate. But fate was trickier.”
Konstantin Fam, director of “Triology Witnesses,” also introduced his film, stating: “Witnesses has reached the final stage of competition to be subsidized by the Ministry of Culture of Russian Federation. We hope that we will be supported. For me it’s very personal film, and personal emotions, that are linked to the history of my family, and millions of similar families that until now remember this tragedy, the understanding of which is essential.”
Anastassia Perova, producer of “Svetlana,” introduced her project, stating: “ ‘Svetlana’ is the ‘soul trip’ of a Kremlin princess, the favorite daughter of tyrant Stalin. She was searching for love, happiness, harmony… the love and death of Indian wise man Bradzesh Singh gave her freedom and new life.”
The list of projects, curated by Mtsitouridze, and introduced by their producers, included:
“The Last Inhabitant,” director Jivan Avetisyan
“Svetlana,” created by Irina Kvirikadze, producer Anastassia Perova
“Chekhov’s List,” director Anna Fenchenko, producer Vladimir Khotinenko
“Stones of Sunrise,” director Philip Abryutin, producer Svetlana Kuchmaeva
“The Whiskered Nanny 2,” producer Marina Kozhevnikova
“20 Lives,” producer Svetlana Dally and Olga Sinelschikova
“Witnesses” (anthology), producer and director Konstantin Fam
“Dogs. Desire. Death.,” director Dmitry Mamulia
“The Disappearance,” director Timofey Zhalnin, producer Ivan Lopatin
“Quackerz,” director Viktor Lakisov, producers Oksana Brovchenko and Ruben Atoyan