Venice main competition contender “Dear Comrades,” the latest feature from legendary Russian director Andrei Konchalovsky, has been snapped up for world sales by Berlin-based Films Boutique, in what looks like one of the biggest sales agents deals on a title vying for the Golden Lion at 2020’s 77th Venice Intl. Film Festival.
Packing a brief stint in Hollywood in the 1980s, Konchalovsky’s now 60-year career runs a huge gamut, from co-writing Russian colossus Andrei Tarkovsky’s 1965 masterpiece “Andrei Rublev,” to adapting an unfilmed Akira Kurosawa script for 1985’s “Runaway Train,” a feature that spawned a friendship with Billy Wilder, to being fired from the 1989 Sylvester Stallone comedy “Tango & Cash.”
Unambivalent about Hollywood — “‘Tango & Cash,’ like every real Hollywood film, is a film for people who cannot read,” he once told The Guardian — “Good Comrades” delivers what many will see as Konchalovsky’s take on the Soviet regime, inspired by real tragic events of 1962, when the Soviet Union military opened fire on workers from an Electromotive construction plant in Novocherkassk, southern Russia, who were staging one of the first street protests in Soviet Russia.
Events were the subject of a cover-up with their reality only being brought to light in 1992, after the fall of communism in Russia.
Konchalovsky didn’t pay much attention to rumors of the shooting at the time. Now, decades later, he hopes that, for a broader audience, “Dear Comrades” will serve to set the record right. Decades of silence imposed by the Soviet regime, which forced surviving victims to sign non-disclosure agreements, have created their own terror, the director commented on set to Russian website Stunt Effects.
Co-written by Konchalovsky and Elena Kiseleva, “Dear Comrades” stars Julia Vysotskaya, seen in Konchalovsky’s ”Paradise,” as Lyudmila, a communist who sincerely believes in the communist system and its ideals until she witnesses the shooting of street protesters, an event that will change her world vision forever.
“The city is torn apart by riots, arrests, hasty convictions and by the curfew, many people are injured and several go missing,” the synopsis runs. One is Lyudmila’s own daughter, prompting her to begin a desperate search, whatever the danger, despite the city’s blockade and escalating arrests.
“Dear Comrades” was shot in black and white and a near box format.
“We’re extremely proud to be working with the Russian master Konchalovsky and on this high profile entry ‘Dear Comrades,’” said Jean-Christophe Simon, CEO of Films Boutique, calling the film “visually stunning” and “a very topical and modern political piece.”
“Dear Comrades” is produced by Konchalovsky, Olesya Gidrat and Alisher Usmanov.