The Russians Are Coming By Marina Pork

in 40th Karlovy Vary Film Festival

by Marina Pork

In the programme of the 40th KVIFF, many films from Russia participated as usual. Those who found time to see all of them would become aware of the situation in Russian cinema, from the commercially successful films to the art-house ones.

Night Watch by Timur Bekmambetov was one of the hits of Russian distribution of the last year. In Russia, if a film earns more than one million Dollars at the box-office it is a success. Vampires and other creatures in the streets of Moscow appeared for the first time, and it seemed ‘cool’. That was obviously the idea of 20th Century-Fox who is releasing this supernatural thriller in the USA. We will have to wait for the results. But this scary story ends, as it should, in Hollywood. And it does not matter in this case that the special effects in Night Watch can not be compared to Hollywood blockbusters,

A Driver for Vera was also very successful with Russian filmgoers. After a TV screening, it took second place in the TV ratings just after the New Year speech by our president. The audiences appreciated the plot dealing with the events of the private life of a Soviet general and his daughter, passions rule, good but unhappy people struck suffer blows of fate and from wicked people waiting for them everywhere. The plot allows the actors to show their talents.

In the ‘East of the West’ section, there were three Russian films. A version of Chekhov’s Room 6, renamed Ragin, won the first prize. It was a project by the actor Alexei Guskov who played the title role. In conflict with the director Kirill Serebrenikov, he made the final cut himself and it was the right decision. The dark atmosphere of this film works well in the search of the essence of life by Russian intellectuals and Guskov as Ragin is superb.

A country lying in spiritual ruins is the main theme of two more Russian films, Sunless City and Remote Access. In both of them, young characters have no future and the severe reality of contemporary life is revealed. These films give hope that our art house cinema will be understood and appreciated in the world.