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:: Spotlight :: 2013 Russian Resurrection Film Festival

By: Natalie Rhook

Since its inception in 2003, 65,000 people have attended this vibrant celebration of Ruski culture ‐ the largest festival of Russian Cinema outside of Russia. Paying homage to its authentic Russian roots through the magic of movies and events steeped in traditional Russian hospitality, the 2013 Festival will showcase 18 new films, Australian premieres and two retrospectiveprograms.

The first retrospective will cover the work of renowned producer/director Valery Todorovsky with films including Under Moscow Nights (1994), The Land of the Deaf (1998) The Lover (2002), My Stepbrother Frankenstein (2004), Vice (2007) and Hipsters (2008). A nostalgic look at “Comedies from our Childhood” will form the basis of the second retrospective and will feature Beware of the Automobile (1966), The Diamond Arm (1969), Gentlemen of Fortune (1971) and Ivan Vasilevich Back to the Future (1973).

Launching the Festival’s Melbourne season, will be The Geographer (2013), which will be enjoying its world premiere. Yet to even release in Russia, Alexander Veledinsky’s tragicomedy The Geographer Has Guzzled Away His Globe is based on the eponymous novel by Alexei Ivanov and follows biologist Viktor Sluzhkin, who pressed for money, finds a job as a geography teacher. He battles with his pupils and principal, struggles to raise his daughter and tries to cope with all of life’s little disturbances, including falling for and befriending one of his own students. Above all, The Geographer is a universal story about man’s capacity to feel and to love, despite fate’s many obstacles.

2013 Festival highlights include:

A Long and Happy Life
Dramatic Russian cinema at its best. A city boy turned farmer decides to help his fellow villagers´ plight to protect their land from the state. But getting involved in someone else´s fight could end by costing him everything. Powerful, modern storytelling from the director (Boris Hlebnikov) of Free Floating and The Roads to Koktebel.

Gentlemen of Fortune
This is a modern remake of the classic 1971 Soviet comedy of the same name (which will screen as part of the Festival‘s 'Comedies from our Childhood’ Retrospective. A children’s party entertainer, Lesha Treshkin, is recruited by an attractive police officer to pose as the notorious gangster Smiley because he looks remarkably like him. Treshkin must lead Smiley’s criminal accomplices on a daring escape and through a series of misadventure in Egypt as the merry gang desperately try to return to Russia. The three escapees become good friends, but when the real Smiley breaks out of jail, all hell breaks loose.

Love With An Accent
Passionate and effervescent. Mature and ruthless. Naive and outrageous. This deliciously optimistic, multi‐stranded romantic comedy is fast‐paced and full of dramatic turmoil. The various plotlines are interwoven into one great ironic comedy about true love, with no borders, no laws and no nationalities.

In a world of hedonism and glamour, Soulless is a story of Max, a 29‐year‐old international banker who is absolutely sure about his success and happiness. Everything he does revolves around earning and spending money. He lives a life of expensive cars, nightclubs, models, parties and drugs, until one girl changes his perspective on life. From this point everything around and inside him, starts to change.

The Conductor
From acclaimed director Pavel Lungin (Tsar, The Island) comes The Conductor ‐ his most ambitious work to date. A leading conductor takes his orchestra to work to date. A leading conductor takes his orchestra to Jerusalem to perform the Matthew Passion. But what is expected to be an ordinary business trip becomes a life changing experience for all concerned, when events force the Conductor to re‐evaluate his entire life.

The Snow Queen
An animated Russian fairy‐tale, The Snow Queen was a hit, earning USD 8.8 million box office, with more than 1,400,000 admissions in Russia and Ukraine in December 2012. The evil Snow Queen has blanketed the world in ice and is intent upon destroying all art. A young girl embarks on a journey across the icy wonderland, facing difficult obstacles and finding new friends on her quest to set her brother free, defeat the Snow Queen and warm the hearts of people everywhere.

This is What’s Happening to Me
The setting is New Year’s Eve and a typical Moscow traffic jam. Rushing like mad, all to no avail. Conversations about trifle things, through which life goes on. A father, who has nothing to live for and for whom, nothing can be done. A 15‐year‐old girl who has ambitions in life; become an oncologist or perhaps a food‐designer. What was, and what will, be.
This is What’s Happening to Me, is a bittersweet lyrical tale, set to the music of Tariverdiev (Irony of Fate – a 1970s Soviet cult classic).

Melbourne Palace Cinema Como 3 July ‐ 16 July
Canberra Palace Electric Cinema 16 July ‐ 21 July
Sydney Chauvel Cinema Paddington & Event Cinemas, Burwood 24 July ‐ 7 August
Brisbane Palace Centro 26 July ‐ 4 August
Perth Cinema Paradiso 1‐ 11 August
Byron Bay Palace Byron Bay 2 ‐ 4 August


**Opening Night Feature - Metro**

The Russian Resurrection Film Festival celebrates its 10th Anniversary and returns to screens around Australia in July and August, screening in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra, Perth and for the first time Byron Bay. In Melbourne, the Festival will take place from July 3 to 16 at Palace Cinema Como.

Opening the 10th Anniversary of the festival was a screening of Metro, the film’s first showing in Australia. Hailed as Russia’s first big-budget disaster movie, the film doesn't disappoint and counter balances its looming disaster narrative with a pending marriage break down and the impact of this on the protagonists dealing with the imminent destruction of the Moscow underground rail network.

The building boom in central Moscow exposes imperfections in the city’s foundations, most notably cracks forming in the tunnel between two underground metro stations. The cracks permit water from the Moscow River to at first seep into the underground, before a torrent of flood water threatens the collapse of the underground tunnels and more disastrously, the collapse of the city above. Among the many commuters using the metro one fateful morning are Dr.Garin (Sergei Puskepalis), a well respected surgeon who attempts to guide a small group of survivors of the initial train crash and flooding out of the tunnel. This group of people includes his wife’s lover and Garin as the hero of the story, has to overcome his anger and bitterness at his wife’s betrayal in order to save the rest of the small group of survivors which include his young daughter.

The film contains many scenarios which are familiar to the disaster film narrative. The race to protect and save the innocent, including Garin’s daughter and the small dog she finds amidst the first impact of the flooding. The horrific scene where many people are lost when electricity meets the flood water is reminiscent of some of the final scenes in James Cameron’s Titanic (1997). The tension mounts as the metro employees slowly come to realize what is going on despite receiving several early warnings from a shift worker which are at first discredited, due to his reputation of drinking alcohol before his shift. Director Mergerdichev’s technical prowess brilliantly executes the crash scenes with minimal dialogue from his actors. The film was shot in the city of Samara, where the little used metro system provided a perfect set, complete with menacing drips of water, negating much of the need for any computer generated imagery.

The film is thoroughly engaging and so much of the tension is built out of the claustrophobic nature of the disaster, experienced exclusively within the dark flooded tunnels and the fate of the survivors being largely unknown to anyone at street level.

The 10th Anniversary Russian Film Festival is screening now at Palace Como Cinemas. Full details of screening times can be found here and a certain highlight is the six film Valery Todorovsky Retrospective, the four film “Comedies From Our Childhood” Retrospective and seventeen new films, mostly from 2012 and 2013.

Title: Metro
Director: Anton Mergerdichev
Released by: Palace Cinemas
Length: 132 minutes
Rating: MA15+
Production: Profit (RU)
Starring: Sergei Puskepalis, Anatoly Beliy, Svetlana Khodchenkova, Anfisa Vistinhausen

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