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Pic bulls way to win

Sokurov's 'Taurus' sweeps Russia's Nika nods

MOSCOW — Alexander Sokurov’s “Taurus,” about the last days of Soviet communist leader Vladimir Lenin, scooped seven gongs, including director and film, at Russia’s 15th annual Nika film awards, held Saturday.

“Taurus,” which was Russia’s competition entry at last year’s Cannes Film Festival, also nabbed nods for cinematography (Sokurov), script (Yury Arabov), actor (Leonid Mosgovoi as Lenin), actress (Maria Kuznetsova as wife Nadezhda Krupskaya) and design (Natalia Kochergina).

Event’s lifetime achievement award went to actor Alexei Batalov.

The Nika awards are under considerable pressure from a new rival kudos ceremony, the Golden Eagles, inaugurated by Russia’s Filmmakers Union prexy Nikita Mikhalkov (“Burnt by the Sun”) and due to be handed out for the first time this fall.

Moscow’s House of Cinema, where the Nika awards were presented, is controlled by the Filmmakers Union, and its manager, Nika chief Yuly Gusman, has made little secret of his conflict with the Oscar-winning helmer.

Gusman, who hosted the Nika awards show (and mimicked this year’s Oscar’s ceremony by appearing in a spoof of Whoopi Goldberg’s costumes) pulled out all the stops to emphasize the importance of the Nika awards.

Attendees included Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov as well as Russia’s first president, Boris Yeltsin. They joined the audience in a minute’s silence to honor Belorussian director Mikhail Ptashuk, whose film “August 1944” was nominated in six categories. The helmer had died the previous day in a Moscow car crash.