Chen Kaige's 2005 mega-budget fantasy epic The Promise will kick off the 28th Moscow Film Festival. The internationally acclaimed director, whose Farewell My Concubine was the first Chinese film to win the Cannes Festival's top Palme d'Or prize in 1993, will be honored in Moscow with a lifetime achievement award.
Seventeen films will be competing this year for the festival's main prize, the Golden St. George for Best Film, as well as for Silver St. Georges for Best Director, Actor and Actress.
The highlights of the 2006 prime competition lineup include new work from France's Bertrand Blier (How Much Do You Love Me?), Hungary's Istvan Szabo (Relatives), Chile's Raoul Ruiz (Klimt), America's Robert Towne (Ask the Dust) and Britain's Jeremy Brock (Driving Lessons). Alexei Muradov's The Worm is the only Russian entry, despite the increasingly rapid growth of the country's film industry.
Acclaimed Polish movie director Andrzej Zulawski will chair the fest's competition jury, featuring Russia's Alexei Uchitel, the director of last year's winner, Dreaming of Space, British actress Julie Christie, who starred in a 1965 Hollywood production of Boris Pasternak's Doctor Zhivago, and French critic-producer Pierre-Henri Deleau.
The festival will run a parallel debut competition and a world documentary program, closing July 2 with Pedro Almodovar's Volver.
The Moscow Film Festival, launched in 1935, was registered by International Federation of Film Producers associations (FIAPF) as an "A" class festival in 1972. It has been an annual event since 1995.