Although it boasts no Palme d’Or contenders, Russia, one of Eastern Europe’s fastest-rising film industries, is out in force in Cannes.
Russia launched the sixth edition of its Pavilion at the mart Thursday during a gala presentation attended by la creme de la creme of Russian and international film biz, notably Vyacheslav Telnov, from the ministry of culture; Catherine Mtsitouridze, managing topper at Roskino; Timothy M. Gray, Variety ’s international editor and VP; and Jerome Paillard, Cannes Film Market topper.
Mtsitouridze, who is also editor-in-chief of Variety Russia, applauded the young generation of Russian helmers who are repped in various selections at Cannes. For instance, Taisia Igumentseva, the 23-year-old helmer who won the top prize of the Cinefondation for her short “The Road To,” is presenting her debut, “Bite the Dust,” (pictured) in Special Screening.
And this year, Russian student Evgeny Byalo has short “The Norm of Life” playing at the Cinefondation, which runs parallel to the fest.
Meanwhile, Yury Bykov’s social drama “The Major” is playing at Critics’ Week, a sidebar dedicated to first and second films that’s revealed such helmers as Olivier Assayas and Jeff Nichols.
“We find it immensely inspiring and encouraging to see this new breed of Russian directors who are able to come off the beaten path, explore new genre, and deal with universal sujects,” said Mtsitouridze. “These young filmmakers are great examples of how diverse Russian cinema has become.”
Mtsitouridze hosted a presentation of 10 new Russian productions to distributors, festivals programmers and journos.
In other Russia-related news, Russian literature is proving to be a source of inspiration for more and more contempo filmmakers and producers. D.M. Thomas’ “Alexander Solzhenitsyn: A Century in His Life,” a biography of the Soviet dissident and acclaimed author has been optioned by Primeridian Entertainment, a production/equity financing firm launched by Arcadiy Golubovich and Tim O’Hair. Cyrus Nowrasteh, whose credits include Path to 9/11, will penn and direct the film with wife Betsy Giffen Nowrasteh.