Petersburg bows fest

Rudinshtein to work with local crew to drum up extra sponsorship

MOSCOW — Russia’s northern capital St. Petersburg is set to launch its own international Film Fest in July 2006, founder Mark Rudinshtein has announced.

Main venue for the artpic-oriented fest couldn’t be more impressive — a specially constructed temporary multi-screen fest center located directly on the city’s Palace Square, facing the Hermitage Museum.

City authorities are supporting the event, while Rudinshtein, who ran Russia’s Kinotavr fest for 15 years through to 2004, will work with a local crew to drum up extra sponsorship. After selling the Kinotavr brand to new owners led by TV player Alexander Rodnyansky earlier this year, Rudinshtein now heads the new Cinemark outfit.

If it aims for competitive status, the St. Petersburg event will likely have to challenge Moscow’s fest, which runs the last week of June, given that the latter has always been protective of rights to screen pics for the first time in the territory.

Smoothing the way, however, is the fact that St. Petersburg fest president is Andrei Konchalovsky — brother of Moscow fest prexy Nikita Mikhalkov.

News looks to sound a death knell for Petersburg’s Festival of Festivals, which has run for more than a decade in the last week of June; event saw its own profile diminished when in recent years the Moscow fest moved back a month from its long established late-July slot.

That decision, apart from pre-empting potential Karlovy Vary programming, also gave visitors Moscow’s more temperate June weather rather than its sweltering July heat.

St. Petersburg’s growing tourist infrastructure — and its history, with a less hectic, and more beautiful cityscape than Moscow’s — could also lure festgoers.

Cinemark’s other plans remain tied to the Black Sea resort of Sochi, where Rudinshtein originally set up Kinotavr, and kept it going through years of financial difficulties through the 1990s.

He’s moved another event, the Faces of Love fest, from winter Moscow to summer Sochi. Faces opens Aug. 27, with parallel Russian and international juries, the latter headed by British helmer Paul Pavlikovski. Thesp Catherine Deneuve is the president of Faces.

Other events planned by Rudinshtein for the resort include a children’s film fest and comedy, music, fashion and theater events.

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