Siberia. Festival. Action!

Anastasia Grishchenko's picture

Russian Nation Film Festival Dvijenie that took place in the heart of Siberia dramatically and inventively demonstrated the direction of development of modern cinema. What kind of direction does it take? Our columnist Anastasia Grishchenko investigates further.

‘Life requires action’, - Aristotle said. Action becomes an essential element of development, fundamental component of progress and irremissible condition of life if there are no limits and boundaries. The Film festival called Motion (or Dvijenie in Russian transcription) thrives thanks to the conception of «Pure motion” which demonstrates the absence of prejudices of any kinds. It provides uniqueness which this film festival from many others. Dvijenie unites mainstream fiction pictures with experimental ones, genre films with shapelessly-vanguard, documentary with television movies, program director and film critic Stas Tyrkin said, I mean, not only pilots soap opera episodes that annually participates in the competition program and often pins down so-called big films, but also TV reports’’.  The only formal division of film-participants is the presence of three completion programs – main, non-fiction and short.

‘We have a multi-format festival, president Artem Mikhalkov said. The line between documentary and art film is almost erased. You can make a movie using an iPhone and still get to our main competition. Everything depends on how you did this. I’m sure that our creativity attracts young people attention and arouse their interest to the festival’.

‘In just two years the festival has secured the reputation of the brightest Russian Forum Debut and discovers new names, producer Polina Zueva said. Now it’s difficult to imagine the development of Russian cinema without Dvijenie which plays an essential role in their updating’’. The festival held for the third time gained momentum. For instance this year some of the participants willingly and personally presented their work and arrived at their own expense.

Motion towards: Red Bracelets

From the very beginning Dvijenie included the fragment of Salaam, Moscow serial blur the boundaries of formats. This time the jury headed by Karen Shakhnazarov gave the best director prize and Grand Prize to the Red Bracelets. It is a Russian adaptation of the popular Catalonian soap opera about teenagers that organize a kind of secret club experiencing and all the difficulties of teen period and in spite of the illness do not despond. The First and second series were shown in Omsk.

Red Braceletscan be called full-fledged TV-debut of the director Natalia Meshchaninova who worked as the second director of popular Russian serial ‘The school’’. Natalia is probably one of the most uncompromising Russian filmmakers, the author of a diversified and witty documentary with improvisation and clear dramaturgic line. Her fiction debut, social drama Çombinat ‘’Hope’’ presented in Rotterdam was not released in Russia because Natalia refused to re-score the film according to the new law banning obscene language in films. In this case Red Bracelets looks like an experiment, playing on the mainstream genre, but made by firm hand.   

Motion within: At the fingertips

The best actress award went to a real girl Nadya Kuznetsova, not an actress, the hero of the documentary reportage At the fingertips. Nadya having a rare genetic disease, epidermolysis bullosa, so-called ‘’butterfly syndrome’ with the informational support of director and former TV-journalist Roman Super was able to raise money for a complicated operation in Germany and give her fingers.  No doubt At the fingertips is crucial project from a social and human point of view. But even with the risk of sounding insensitive it’s difficult to take it as a film. The story based on the TV-reports with standard TV-techniques such as voice-over and music miking is devoid of any imagery and abound with trite conclusions and commonplace comments, and in some points it turns into an act of narcissism of the director. Precisely this this is the story of a brave and strong girl who gapes for coping with her disease and leading a normal life that touches the audience.  The Theme of the struggle for life due to the lack of artistic values and aesthetic niceties became valuable in itself. The film was awarded the People’s choice prize.

Motion forward: No place for fools

Ironically, the winner of the non-fiction competition No place for fools entirely consisting of found footage looks like a real film.  No place for fools made by actionist artist Oleg Mavrotti was forced to leave Russia after his campaign ‘’Do not believe your eyes’’ perhaps is the most striking, shocking and unusual among other shown movies. The Hero of this chronicle is Sergey Astakhov, ‘’the Orthodox leader’’, ‘a patriot of all Russia and The Russian Federation’’, 28 year old male, who lives on the outskirts of Moscow with his mother, stepfather and grandmother, and devotes all his time free from visits to psychiatrist to creation video for social network. Mavromatti edited these video messages adding music and other surprising YouTube videos: episodes of fires, car crashes, real suicide footages shoot by onlookers and scrolled on the contrary – from the agony to resurrection. The result is the astonishing chronicle of degradation of not a specific person but a whole society that sweetly glorifies kinship and love, patriotism and spirituality, Orthodoxy and healthy food. A hymn of loneliness. Apocalypse in Russian. Regression as it is – terrible, but fascinating.

By the way, this film with the plot not expanding beyond the borders of Russia, so far is the only one of the Omsk program that succeeded internationally. No place for fools was shown in the festival in Rotterdam.

Motion upwards: A trip to his mother and Arctic alchemy

Prior Omsk A trip to his mother by Mikhail Nesterov-Kosyrev was shown in Singapore Film Festival. No wonder. It has a sensible script, masterly camerawork by Oleg Lukichov (the best cameramen prize), brilliant actor’s duet of Artem Alekseev (Best actors prize) and the winner of Cannes ‘’Golden Palm’’ Adel Exarchopoulos. The plot is the mourning of the suddenly deceased mother by step siblings – brother and sister, Russian and French. The Mother’s feathers are not shown but has a  limited with voice-over which belongs to Margarita Terekhova. It clearly resembles The Mirrow by Andrei Tarkovsky where Terekhova took part of mother.

Arctic alchemyby director Nastia Tarasova, producer and cameramen Irina Shatalova could also participate in any international film festival. Even thought it’s difficult to identify that  ‘Arctic alchemy’’, documentary shot in the USA and Canada with no Russian words and is a Russian film. Definitely the creators are bold and girls. Not everyone can afford to overpower filmmaking on foreign territory. And did it easily, playfully and freely. It is a Fascinating story about the journey of five bikers-brewers from Pennsylvania to the eternal snow and ice in the search of rare ale recipe  which inspires for adventure. Tarasova’s previous film Linar shown in Omsk two years ago about the happy destiny of an ill Russian boy who was able to transplant the heart in the Italian clinic got the People choice Award on Dvijenie number one and was presented on many other international festivals . An Excellent example of progressive motion 

Motion back: Epilogue     

Classical narrative, exaggerated literal film Epilogue by Vladimir Beck, a story about painful parting of lovers won the Short film Prize. Last year Beck was awarded the full-length prize for his erotic drama Skinless. An 8-minute letter We are petrol stations by Pavel Ruminov is also worth noting. A conversation with a girl, so-called Eternal Woman, turns into a funny, smart and charming movie, into flirting with the audience, was perceived as a lesson for debutants. Experienced Ruminov is not afraid to reinvent cinema again and again.  It is a True conception of perpetual motion. To always be in motion. In what direction? No matter. Motion is a change. As every alternation and transformation, it is a secret of actual and successful movies, a motion towards experimental, unusual and vanguard films, motion in a search of new way of film language. Facing the question: ‘In what direction does modern cinema go?’’ there is no right answer because there is a motion by itself that matters.