New Russian Cinema By Genoveva Dimitrova

in 35th Kiev Molodist-International Film Festival

by Genoveva Dimitrova

Kiev is a magical place, but it gets even more magical in October (22nd to 30th) because of the IFF Molodist and its youthful energy. The thirty fifth edition of the festival included 198 titles, three competition-programs, eleven non-competition programs and eight special events.

For me, the most interesting aspect was the New Russian Cinema panorama, presented by the Kinotavr Film Festival (and opened by Andrey Plakhov). The Zhovten movie-theater, situated in Podol – the oldest district in Kiev – was the host to eight films, their directors and a large audience of all ages of Russian speakers. Most of the films were trying their best to bring the audience back to Russian films through intimate and entertaining stories. They show today’s Russian ways as an absurd theater of disappointment. Because of this Russian films are dominated by parody, imitation and profanation.

In general, we have seen the Russian movie in the context of social paranoia and the new technologies. There were two films about Space (First People On the Moon by Alexei Fedorichenko and Dreaming of the Space by Alexei Uchitel), two films about people of the non-professional theater (On the Verkhnaya Maslovka by Konstantin Khudyakov and Sunless City by Sergei Potjomkin) and two films about the Russian Silver century (Garpastum by Alexei German, Jr. and On the Verkhnaya Maslovka) .

Garpastum is a refined and sophisticated close-up of the Russian Silver century and the First World War through the football-mania of two brothers and their friends. Love, money and the dead are involved in a closed society, indifferent to the changes around it. There are just small remarks as “I’m leaving Petersburg which is now, for no good reason, called Petrograd”. In contrast to his debut Pdslednii poezd (The Last Train), this film is in color and the images are the most spectacular part of the movie. The Last Train was a “cough in the snow” while Garpastum is a “kick at a ball in the mud”. Like his great father, the young German demonstrates an unusual talent for building up the atmosphere through small details.

In contrast to the elegant Garpastum, Decameron, by Andrei Proshkin, written by famous screen-writer Genady Ostrovsky (member of the main jury at the Kiev festival) is a satirical comedy but, although it got laughs, it is a vulgar and tasteless film on Russian mentality. We have seen a lot of similar films – enough!

To tell the truth, I didn’t have a favorite film in this program. I still prefer Fyodor Bondarchuk’s 9 rota (9 company) , which I saw in Kiev, outside the festival.