30th Moscow International Film Festival

Russia, June 19 - June 28 2008

The jury

Klaus Eder (Germany), Mike Naafs (The Netherlands), Mahrez Karoui (Tunisia), Francisco Ferreira (Portugal), Natalia Primakova (Russia)

Awarded films

In his 1983 movie Epilogue (Poslesloviye), Marlen Khutsiyev presents Moscow as a modern city. Big jets leave for worldwide destinations. Wide streets teem with the newest cars. The proudly filmed tower blocks designed in Stalin’s era join newly constructed skyscrapers. An intellectual’s apartment is presented as spacious and equipped with elegant furniture and the newest technology. (This petit-bourgeois luxury makes the people lonesome, adds Khutsiyev, but that’s another story).

Over thirty years later, Moscow is still a gigantic building site, but the reason behind it is no longer the post-Brezhnev ideology of creating an image of Moscow as an open-minded and trendy modern city. Today, the construction of new buildings booms simply because it’s good business — and this business shows scarce consideration for historically significant architectural structures. (One of the traditional buildings in danger is the “Domkino”, the House of Film, center of cinema for decades.)

Even the Moscow Festival looks like a building site. Funding was granted just two months before the event, and it borders on the miraculous that the colleagues in charge of the program, Kirsi Tykkyläinen and Andrei Plakhov, managed to bring in some of the best films of the season, mainly in sidebars (such as “Reflections” and “Moscow Euphoria”). The main competition, however, needs to be improved, in particular because Moscow must position itself between Cannes in May, Karlovy Vary in July and Venice at the beginning of September. That the festival still holds a certain attraction could be seen at the opening, where festival president Nikita Mikhalkov proudly introduced Liv Ullmann, Emir Kusturica and Takeshi Kitano, as well as the spectacle of Will Smith and Charlize Theron appearing for the world premiere of Hancock — a strange choice for an opening film, especially for a festival which had, once upon a time, honored Fellini’s 8½ with pride of place.

Naum Klejman, who heads the Moscow Film Museum and who is undoubtedly the country’s most knowledgeable film historian, made it possible for Moscow filmgoers to make their first acquaintance with the work of the Korean director Im Kwon-taek, and organized an homage to István Szabó as well. His no less knowledgeable colleague Jevgenij Margolit composed a series on “Socialist Avant-Gardism” (Abuladze, Pudovkin, Kalatozov, Yutkevich, Room, and others). How lovely to see that these screenings attended mainly by a younger public, which has the chance to discover classics of Soviet cinema.

At the occasion of the festival’s 30th edition, Derek Malcolm, Honorable President of FIPRESCI, and Klaus Eder, FIPRESCI’s General Secretary, as well as former General Secretary Marcel Martin were honored, with a medal, for their merits in favor of Russian cinema. (k.e.)