Generation P: an eclectic mix of art, politics, consumerism and Che Guevara

Russian film “Generation P” by Victor Ginzburg aroused interest and curiosity among Indian viewers. What are the odds for it winning the main prize of the 13th Mumbai Film Festival?

The premiere of Russian director Victor Ginzburg’s film “Generation P” (a screen adaptation of the same name novel by famous Russian writer Victor Pelevin) October 15 received mixed reviews. It’s not surprising since the plot of the film is complex and often based on hallucinations, with unexpected twists of storyline such as Che Guevara’s speech, on the other hand the atmosphere of the 1990s Moscow is very tangible, and the film could be perceived as an alternate vision of the reality of that time.

Some viewers described the film as a representation of modern pop-culture embracing various issues on the agenda of our day from art to consumerism to philosophy. Yet others thought it was complex and somewhat confusing, and political and religious context was hard to follow at times. But it definitely gave food for thought and provoked discussions, which could score some points for the film in the intense competition for the main prize of the Festival along with “Sleeping beauty” by Julia Leigh (Australia) and “My little princess” by Eva Ionesco (France).

The director Victor Ginzburg contemplates on his film’s position in the festival. He thinks that viewers, especially young ones, would appreciate “Generation P” despite its complexity. Although he doesn’t count on his film winning the main award of the festival. Ginzburg explains that “Generation P” can’t be attributed to a particular film genre, and it doesn’t fit the frames of the festival films or commercial films. So he rather hopes for a special prize like the one he received in the framework of the Programme “From West to East”.

But the organisers of the Mumbai Film Festival believe in Victor Ginzburg’s “Generation P” success saying that the issues aroused in the film are very much on the agenda for India as well as for Russia, and also the form of narrating is closer to the Indian cinema. Besides, Indian viewers are more likely not to compare the film with the book and to judge it as a separate work of art.  

There are two more Russian films expected to be well acclaimed at the Festival.  Lermontov’s novel “Hero of our time” adapted into a film by Roman Khrushch and the 68th Venice International Film Festival Golden Lion winner “Faust” by Alexandr Sokurov, which is to finalize the Festival on October 20.  The latter is the crowning part of Sokurov’s tetralogy on world dictators (the first 3 episodes – Moloch, Taurus and Sun - were devoted to Hitler, Lenin and Hiro Hito respectively). Sokurov’s “Faust” is a free screen adaptation of Goethe’s timeless masterpiece and is expected by critics to fascinate viewers who prefer analytical films pondering on profound questions of all epochs.

This time the Mumbai film festival celebrates 50th anniversary of “Cannes Critics Week”. One of the films shown as part of the celebration will be the Nika award winner by a Russian director Valeriya Gai GermanikaEverybody dies but me”. This scandalous film about teenagers may be seen as a continuation of the filmmaker’s trend after he series “School” that was similar to a bomb blast on the Russian television.

The Mumbai Festival already manifested itself as an important event in the cinema world. Shyam Benegal, Veteran Director and Chairman of the Mumbai Academy for Moving Image, highly estimates the Mumbai International Film Festival. He believes that films demonstrated at the film festival should speak for themselves, and this would be the festival, in which every viewer, a professional or an amateur, would find something to appreciate.

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