|Russian Season at the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival
18th – 28th February 2010
This year the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival is celebrating contemporary Russian cinema with a selection of outstanding Russian films. The titles that have been chosen for this season explore a range of different themes, challenging perceptions of Russian cinema and providing unmissable treats for all film fans!
The season includes the Sundance award-winning Mermaid, the spiritual parable The Island and the film that has been described as the Iron Curtain version of Hairspray: the colourful and lively Hipsters, with director Valerie Todorovskiy attending the screening.
Other titles include Ward No. 6, which featured in the Russian film festival in London and for which Director Karen Shakhnazarov will attend, and Room and a Half with Director Andrey Khrzhanoysky attending, as well as screenings of the films One War, Morphia and Wolfy.
The festival will also see a screening of the iconic film Russian Ark, shot in once fluid take in St Petersburg’s State Hermitage Museum and containing the longest unedited take in the history of cinema; which will be screened in the National Gallery of Ireland.
The Jameson Dublin International Film Festival is grant aided by The Arts Council/ An Chomhairle Ealaíon and would also like to acknowledge support from its funders and sponsors The Irish Film Board/ Bord Scannán na hÉireann, MEDIA Programme of the European Union, The Irish Times The Ticket, Cineworld, The Merrion Hotel, Renault, Entertainment.ie, Windmill Lane and FM104.
Jameson Dublin International Film Festival
Telephone: 353 (0)1 687 7976
Full Listing of Russian Season
The Island (Ostrov) Sat 20th Feb, Lighthouse, 6.30pm
Director: Pavel Lungin 2006 / Russia / 112 minutes Principal Cast: Pyotr Mamonov, Viktor Sukhorukov, Dmitriy Dyuzhev
Scorsese, with hard-times urban tales (Taxi Blues) set in grubby, materialist Moscow. What a sea change with The Island, a magnificently realized spiritual parable set in a Russian Orthodox monastery on the White Sea. In 1942, a Nazi ship intercepts a Russian barge, whereupon sniveling coal stoker Anatoly (Mamonov) begs for his life. No problem: all Anatoly has to do is shoot his Captain. How will Anatoly live with his crime? By 1976, Anatoly has become a monk, living in a crumbling shack. Each day he prays fervently, acknowledging his terrible betrayal and murder. Anatoly isn’t just a suffering Christian penitent, however he’s a mad prankster, terrifying the other monks with his anarchist tricks. Is he a wise fool, doing God’s bidding, or a foolish fool, undoing the Christian work of the Orthodox brethren?
Gerard Peary, Boston Phoenix
Mermaid, Sun 21st Feb, Screen 1, 1.30pm
Director: Anna Melikyan 2007 / Russia / 107 minutes Principal Cast: Masha Shalaeva, Yevgeni Tsyganov, Maria Sokova, Nastya Dontsova, Irina Skrinichenko
A prize-winner at Edinburgh, Berlin and Sundance, Mermaid conjures up a seaside fairy tale mixed with the darker elements of an unrequited urban romance. Alisa (Shalayeva) grows up on the shores of the Black Sea. With only her raunchy, man-chasing mother and her feeble grandma for companions, she grows up adventurous and independent, but stubborn to the point of refusing to speak for a decade after her mother denied her ballet lessons. She discovers, however, the possibility that she can make her wishes come true with a kind of telekinesis…Laced with magical realism and a wonderfully odd ball sensibility, a level of tenable comparison can – and has – be made to Amélie; however, make no mistake: here Melikian carves a darker tale of whimsy, rippled by a distinct undercurrent of melancholy not seen in its French counterpart. The results are beautiful and resonant in every way.
Wisconsin Film Festival Programme
Wolfy, Sun 21st Feb, Light House, 6.30pm
Director: Vasili Sigarev 2009 / Russia / 86 minutes Principal Cast: Yana Troyanova, Polina Pluchek, Veronika Lysakova
Police pursue a pregnant woman across a snow-covered field and she goes into premature labour. A young girl, the result of the birth, announces in voiceover that she didn’t meet her mother until seven years later. Wolfy charts the ongoing course of their relationship. The little girl rarely sees her mother, and is left in the care of her grandmother and, subsequently, an invalid aunt. Her mother seems to depend on the sexual favours of men and occasionally brings her presents, most significantly a spinning top (‘volchok’, which is also the Russian for little wolf). A strikingly imagined combination of social observation and fairy tale, Wolfy is based on the experiences of leading actress Yana Troyanova, who plays the role of the mother. While the subject is, on the surface, grim, writer/director Vasili Sigarev deliberately sought ‘the sensation of childhood memories’, arguing that childhood memories can be beautiful regardless.
Peter Hames, BFI London Film Festival Programme
One War, Mon 22nd Feb, Light House, 6.30pm
Director: Vera Glagoleva /2009 / Russia / 85 minutes
Principal Cast: Aleksandr Baluyev, Natalya Surkova, Michael Khmurov, Natalia Kudryashova.
One War begins in May 1945 with the arrival of Maxim Prokhorov (Khmurov), a Major in the People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs, on a small island off the northern coast of the U.S.S.R. This is where a group of Russian women and their children have been exiled from their homes in German-occupied territories – the children are the result of relationships with the enemy. Following the surrender of the German army, Major Prokhorov has been ordered to remove the women and their children from the island. For most of the women, it’s a mystery as to what their evacuation will entail, or where they will be sent. The drama derives from the increasingly palpable tensions that develop between the women and their military overseers, as well as the men’s emotional conflicts between obeying their distasteful military orders and honouring their more humane sentiments.
Morphia, Tues 23rd Feb, Lighthouse, 8.15pm
Director: Aleksey Balabanov 2008 / Russia / 102 minutes Principal Cast: Leonid Bichevin, Ingeborga Dapkunaite, Andrey Panin, Svetlana Pismichenk
Sick-bags at the ready for Aleksey Balabanov’s (Cargo 200, Of Freaks and Men) deliciously funny and graphically gory take on Mikhail Bulgakov’s Notes Of A Young Doctor, as he juxtaposes the worsening morphine addiction of a bookish young medic (Leonid Bichevin) in his backwoods hospital with the 1917 Bolshevik revolution which rages in the neighbouring cities. Divided into short episodes, all with laughout- loud titles (The First Injection, The First Amputation, etc.) which comically hint at the ensuing carnage, the film offers a vision of humanity bent on self-destruction and where the social pillars of religion, politics, media and medicine are all irredeemably corrupt. The exhaustive production design deserves a special mention. Time Out ‘Handsomely shot and set to an evocative score, Balabanov
transforms Mikhail’s self-inflicted hell into a searing spectacle that viewers simply can’t tear their eyes from.’
Vancouver International Film Festival Programme
Hipsters Wed 24th February, Lighthouse, 6.30pm
Director: Valeriy Todorovskiy 2008 / Russia / 125 minutes Principal Cast: Oksana Akinshina, Anton Shagin, Evgeniya Khirivskaya, Maksim Matveev, Igor Voynarovskiy
Director Valeriy Todorovskiy will be in attendance at the screening.
Todorovsky explores the politics of music, as he hones in on the conflict between the garishly dressed and sexually liberated hipster movement of 50s Russia and their arch-foes – the Komsomol, the youth wing of the Communist Party. In a familiar musical set-up, Communist youth Mels (Anton Shagin) falls head over heels for Polly (Oksana Akinshina), a hipster girl who shows him the wonders of American jazz… and hairspray who shows him the wonders of Music and their common dream of America becomes a manifestation of freedom. But is the America they dream about real, or just an elaborate fantasy? With a score consisting of jazzed-up versions of classic Russian hit songs, and headed by a young and energetic cast, Hipsters celebrates the rich and colorful legacy of Russia’s musical tradition. The film won four Nika Awards (the Russian Oscars) including Best Film.
Stockholm Film Festival Programme
Russian Ark (Russkiy Kovcheg), Thurs 25th Feb, National Gallery, 6.00pm
Director: Alexander Sokurov2002 / Russian / 96 minutes. Featured Cast: Sergei Dontsov, Mariya Kuznetsova, Leonid Mozgovoy, Mikhail Piotrovsky.
As part of the 2010 focus on Russian Cinema season, the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival is delighted to present a opportunity to revisit a film shown in the very first film festival in 2002, but now but shown in a new setting for a single , very special screening. As successful as it is ambitious, Russian Ark condenses three centuries of Russian history into a single uninterrupted 87 minute take. A visually hypnotizing cinematic feat, Alexsandr Sokurov’s film is a spellbinding ode to St. Petersburg’s State Hermitage Museum. Shot in one fluid take using High Definition video cameras, the photography floats and careens through the lavish corridors of the museum, examining its architectural details while following a dreamlike plot. ‘A dazzling dance to the music of time’
Jay Hoberman, Village Voice
Room and a Half, Thurs 25th Feb, Light House, 6.15pm
Director: Andrey Khrzhanoysky
2008 / Russia / 130 minutes
Principal Cast: Alisa Frejndlich, Sergei Yursky, Grigoriy Dityatkovskiy, Artyom Smola.
Director Andrey Khrzhanoysky will be in attendance at the screening.
Former animator Andrey Khrzhanovsky combines scripted scenes, archival footage, animation, and surrealist flights of fancy to create this stirring portrait of Nobel Prize-winning poet Joseph Brodsky and the postwar Soviet cultural scene. Exiled from his native Russia in 1972, Brodsky once claimed that if he were ever to return to the Motherland, he would do so anonymously. Stepping off from that premise, Khrzhanovsky has created an ironic fairy tale. The journey covers not only geography but time as well, as the audience is transported back to the Russia of the Fifties and Sixties to the artistic explosion that erupted in the wake of de-Stalinization and the Thaw. Room and a Half is both a moving tribute to one of the 20th century’s major poets, as well as a fascinating look at cultural life under the watchful eyes of an authoritarian regime.
New York Film Festival Programme
Ward No. 6, Fri 19th Feb, Light House, 6.00pm
Directors: Aleksandr Gornovsky, Karen Shakhnazarov
2009 / Russia / 83 minutes Principal Cast: Vladimir Ilyin, Alexsei Yvegeni, Evgeny Stychkin Screening with the short film, If These Walls Could Talk
Director Karen Shakhnazarov will be in attendance for the screening
As you watch the impressively tortured Vladimir Ilyin play a psychologist turned mental patient in this Anton Chekhov update, you wonder how the great Marcello Mastroianni (originally attached) would have sashayed his way into madness. No matter: the script, several decades old, has found an absorbing treatment here — a Blair Witch–like collage of interviews, recollections and creepy conversations that scrape the far edge of metaphysical uncertainty. After some upsettingly authentic interviews with patients confined to a ruined institute, we meet Ragin (Ilyin), staring into the shallow distance on his cot. The movie charts his descent, and it’s the suggestive strength of this material — mainly Ragin’s thoughtful chats with the bitter, brilliant Gromov (Vertkov) — that gets you thinking he might actually be evolving,
not unraveling. Ward No. 6 gets the Chekhovian tone just right.
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