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Thursday, 22 January 2015

2morrow/Завтра- a rare oasis of hope for the independent Russian film world.

One of Russia's most interesting and original film festivals is being held this week at the Museum of Moscow and the Centre of Documentary Film. Like many of the more creative festivals in Russia it has been deprived of public funding relying instead on a crowdfunding campaign to survive. Founded by the late film director Ivan Dykhovichny in 2007, the festival has been run by his widow Olga Dykhovichnaya since his death in 2009. It is one of the rare chances to watch a wide range of art house films that are rarely shown in Russian cinemas anymore. If the larger festivals in Russia (such as the annual Moscow International Film Festival) attempt to reach an audience for what they call the 'art mainstream', this festival is much more daring in its programming presenting viewers with a chance of seeing more rarely noted films as well as films that have won major prizes in all the major international film festivals but which no longer get distribution in a Russian market steadily closing itself to everything but Hollywood and Russian national blockbusters and with a Russian cultural ministry intent on uprooting and destroying cultural originality in any and every way it can. In this context this film festival is a rare oasis of hope in an increasingly depressing moment for independent film in Russian subject to both political and economic strangulation.

Olga Dykhovichnaya, festival director of 2morrow/Завтра

While 2morrow/Завтра doesn't concentrate on Russian cinema - it does have the occasional programme which do present the festival goer with an opportunity to watch some Russian (or post-Soviet) films that they would not otherwise have the opportunity to see. The Offside programme showcases Russian regional cinema and this year a part of this programme includes films made by students of Alexander Sokurov at the Kabardino-Balkarsky State University.

It has, moreover, a number of other films that should be of interest to readers of this blog including a Latvian documentary film 'Escaping Riga' comparing the fates of two famous figures who 'escaped Riga': the philosopher Isaiah Berlin and the film-maker Sergei Eisenstein and who chose very different paths and ideals. I hope to give some account of this film by David Simanis for this blog.

One of the real highlights of this festival, though, is a programme which while not connected directly to the Post-Soviet space deserves a special mention. One of the most interesting film curators operating in Russia today, Kirill Adibekov, has managed to convince the Dutch Embassy to help out with bringing the films of two extraordinary Dutch filmmakers - Frans van der Staak and Johnan van der Keuken - to the festival. Adibekov was the curator of the excellent parallel retrospective of Artur Aristaskisyan and Pedro Costa- one of the highlights of the 2013 festival and continues to delight in this festival with another highly original and quite brilliant choice. For those able to read Russian here is an interview with Adibekov giving us an insight as to why this occasion to see films by these two Dutch film-makers is such a unique one.

Film curator Kirill Adibekov

(Some reviews of the films at this festival will appear here in coming days).

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