While markets such as AFM and the recent Key Buyers Event in Moscow aim to develop the worldwide sales potential of Russian cinema, the Russian branch of Fipresci, the international film critics’ federation, came up with a sure-fire idea to bring media attention to the diversity of Russian production, its varied genres, directions and aesthetics.
From Nov. 11-13, the second Fipresci colloquium on Russian cinema will bring together journalists from a range of international publications, film festival curators, film scholars and members of the Russian film industry. Held under the auspices of the bi-annual St. Petersburg Cultural Forum, the event will take place at the legendary Lenfilm Studio complex in St. Petersburg, the studio that gave the world Grigory Kozintsev, Ilya Averbakh and Aleksey German, as well as Aleksandr Sokurov, who still produces his work there.
Colloquium participants (including this writer) will have the opportunity to tour the building and its historic costume collection, lunch at the storied Café Drankov, where nervous directors and screenwriters once waited to hear the fate of their projects, and most importantly, to watch and discuss the latest and most promising films produced at Lenfilm.
The first day will focus on auteur cinema with screenings of Kantemir Balagov’s Cannes prizewinner “Beanpole,” Russia’s submission to the Oscars for best international feature; Svetlana Proskurina’s “Sunday,” a drama about a provincial civil servant whose weekend proves far from ordinary; and Alexander Zolotukhin’s Berlinale-debuted “A Russian Youth,” centering on a soldier blinded in a World War I gas attack who continues to serve his country by listening for enemy planes. In the evening, Sokurov, a mentor for all three of these filmmakers, will screen his 1987 feature “Evening Sacrifice” and give an artist talk.
Day two of the event will concentrate on mainstream movies. Showings include the war epic “Leaving Afghanistan,” directed by Pavel Lungin, about the end of the Soviet-Afghan conflict; the contemporary revenge drama “Text,” directed by the CSU Northridge trained-Klim Shipenko (“Salyut 7”); the romantic comedy “I Am Losing Weight,” directed by Alekey Nuzhnyi; and the gangster-actioner “Bull,” helmed by Boris Akopov.
Before a round table discussion about the content on the final day, the colloquium will offer three films by female directors: Natalya Meschaninova’s 2018 “Core of the World,” a sensitive drama about a young man from a troubled background who works as a vet at a training facility for hunting dogs; Larisa Sadilova’s Cannes Un Certain Regard entry “Once in Trubchevsk” about infidelity in a small town; and Nigina Sayfullaeva’s sexually frank “Fidelity,” about a young woman rediscovering her sexuality.