Young helmers rule Russia’s Kinotavr

'Victim' wins top prize at film fest

SOCHI, Russia — Kinotavr, Russia’s premier national film festival, wrapped Sunday in the Black Sea resort of Sochi with a resounding victory for the younger generation of directors.

In a move unexpected by many observers, fest jury, led by vet scribe Rustam Ibragimbekov, awarded the top prize to helmer Kirill Serebrennikov’s legit adaptation “Playing the Victim,” which also shared the Russian critics’ prize.

Adapting a play by Urals-based dramatist brothers Oleg and Vladimir Presnyakov, “Victim” looks likely to be a hot draw here this summer. It opened on some 80 prints on Thursday, the day of its Sochi bow.

Serebrennikov’s pic is his second; his first — an adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s “Ward Number 6” — went out as “Ragin” two years ago, after producers took final edit away from the helmer.

The 17th Sochi fest shone the spotlight on younger helmers. Second-timer Boris Khlebnikov (“Roads to Koktebel”) received director kudos, while Dunya Smirnova, who scripted Alexei Uchitel’s “His Wife’s Diary,” received the debut nod for her emotional drama “Contact.”

Second-time helmer Alexandr Veledinsky (“It’s Russian”) took scribe honors and shared the critics’ award for his Chechnya-themed drama “Alive.”

Renata Litvinova and AlexandrYatsenko, who starred in Aleksei Balabanov’s “It Doesn’t Hurt,” drew the actress and actor awards, respectively.

In its second year after a management change, Kinotavr ran more smoothly than in previous editions. However, an early sidebar event that brought members of the European Producers’ Club to Sochi backfired, as it became obvious that Russia’s rapidly growing industry has little space for co-production interest.

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