Kinotavr screened dozens of films this month portraying honest and realistic storylines, warts and all. So what does modern arthouse cinema look like in Russia? Here goes...
Leto (Summer) by Kirill Serebrennikov
The last film by Russian film and theater director, Kirill Serebrennikov, opened the festival. Before that the flick was shown at Cannes, where it scooped the Best Soundtrack prize. It portrays the life of Russian musicians in the 1980s, including legends of Russian rock Viktor Tsoy and Mike Naumenko, and the love triangle with Naumenko’s wife, Natalia.
The Story of an Appointment by Avdotya Smirnova
This prizewinner is based on real life events, showing an episode from Russian literary giant Leo Tolstoy’s life. Tolstoy is young, full of passion, and intent on changing his life for the better. He meets lieutenant Grigory Kolokoltsev and they become close. Kolokoltsev’s career trajectory, and Tolstoy’s influence on it, lies at the center of this story.
Anna's War by Aleksey Fedorchenko
WWII is shown through the eyes of a little girl escaped from a Nazi concentration camp who has been hiding in the chimney of a German commander’s office. During the night Anna goes in search of food and water. The film consists of a series of episodes from her life.
Core of the World by Natalia Meschaninova
This is a story about the life of veterinarian Egor, who works at a training station for hunting dogs in the middle of nowhere. He has difficulties getting along with people, and the only creatures that understand him are animals: Namely dogs and foxes, which have nowhere to go – just like Egor himself. The film won a Grand Prix at the festival in 2018.
Russian Demon by Grigory Konstantinopolsky
It starts as a realistic story but wraps up as a bloody dystopia, which is hard to foresee at the beginning. The protagonist, artist Svyatoslav Ivanov, decides to open a restaurant in Moscow to impress his fiancée. He brings his business plan for The Russian Demon restaurant to influential businessman and also the father of his bride Asya. He tries to be an honest businessman, but it’s not so easy. The film won the prize for Best Direction.
Van Goghs by Sergey Livnev
A story about a father and son. The father is 79, a famous conductor, still basking in his glory, while the son is an unfortunate artist aged 53. They live far away from each other, and they’re both happy with this. However, after the father is diagnosed with a deadly disease, a journey from hatred to love begins.
Kislota by Aleksandr Gorchilin
Sasha and Petya, both in their twenties, live the crazy life of musicians in techno-dominated Moscow with loud parties, personal ups and downs, and unstable relations. Despite the external joy, they are full of loneliness. But a sudden event makes them questions their lives and they take a long, honest look at themselves. The film won Kinotavr’s Best Debut prize, which it shared with Deep Rivers directed by Vladimir Bitokov.
If you want to get acquainted with 30 Russian film directors ranging from genius to mind-bendingly brilliant, take a look here.
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