Russian festival picks up pace

Milla Jovovich and Ivan Urgant in “Lucky Trouble”.

Milla Jovovich and Ivan Urgant in “Lucky Trouble”.

Arts editor HELEN MUSA previews this month’s Russian Film Festival

“RUSSIAN Resurrection” is the signature tag used by Nikolai Maksymow, director of the 8th Russian Film Festival, and the name means what it says.

For though we became used to hugely successful Russian film festivals in the ‘70s and ‘80s, the collapse of the Soviet empire saw the demise of such cultural events. Now there’s not so much a renaissance as a resurrection of quality Russian cinema at home and abroad.

Founded by Maksymow in 2004, the inaugural festival was praised by the NSW Premier’s Department as one of the most successful in film-festival history.

This year he has the peculiar task of reducing the number of films making up the final program – there are just too many to choose from.

Nonetheless, he has retained big-ticket items such as recent Cannes winner “Elena”, directed by Andrei Zviagintsev; Aleksei Fedorchenko’s “Silent Souls”, a winner in Venice; and Alexei Uchitel’s “The Edge”, the epic heaped with Russian awards that will open the festival in Canberra.

To Maksymow, when you think of Russian films, you think of art-house cinema. But times are changing, so he’s put in “the odd comedy to get young people in” such as Timur Bekmambetov’s two films “Lucky Trouble” and “Six Degrees of Celebration”, which has a thematic link with Donald Sutherland’s film.

As well, there are crime movies such as “Who Am I?” and “Loot”, which looks at the criminal underworld in present-day Russia.

And there are two children’s films – Tchaikovsky’s  “Nutcracker” for the tiny tots and “Kukaracha”, an animation where animals infest the computer. Both are in 3-D.

The Russian Film Festival, Greater Union Manuka, September 7-11. Bookings to www.greaterunion.com.au or at the box-office. The full program is at www.russianresurrection.com/2011/
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