The fourth annual Russia Film Week launched at ODEON Luxe Leicester Square on Sunday, with over a dozen Russian film stars gracing the red carpet.
The eight-day festival will showcase some of Russia's best new filmmakers, starting with director Klim Shipenko's comedy "Servant", the story of 'golden youth' troublemaker Grisha who is sent to a remote village for re-education and forced to live as a 19th century peasant.
Audiences can screen roughly 37 movies and 18 short films, including "The Balkan Line", "Van Goghs", "Convoy 48", as well as "Beef: A Hip-Hop Story", among many others.
— RussianFilmWeekUK (@RFW_UK) November 15, 2019
The Golden Unicorn Awards is set to take place on 30 November, at the festival's end, to recognise international and local filmmakers for their work in Russia as well as Russian-themed movies.
A Charity Gala Dinner supporting the Naked Heart Foundations, founded by Russian model and entrepreneur Natalia Vodianova after the Beslan tragedy in 2004, will follow the awards ceremony.
Stars and filmmakers presenting their movies include actors Alexander Petrov, Alexander Kuznetsov, Ravshana Kurkova, Gosha Kutsenko, Evgeny Tsyganov, Rinal Mukhametov, Dmitry Dyuzhev, Alena Mikhailova, directors Alexey Uchitel, Yuri Bykov, Mikhail Idov, Alexander Lungin, Grigory Dobrygin, Maria Agranovich, Klim Shipenko, and producers Eduard Pichugin and Ruben Dishdishan.
What Are Top Figures Saying About Russian Film Week
Filip Perkon, Russian Film Week and Golden Unicorn Awards founder and general producer, said that over 340 applications were received to join the festival.
He said: “We believe in our mission – to exchange and enrich Russian and European cultures through cinema and engage more and more of the foreign audience. Increasing the number of visitors of the Russian Film Week year to year proves that our goal is successfully accomplishing.
Speaking at the opening, Mr Perkon called Leicester Square's ODEON Luxe the "home of all movie premieres" and "mighty London Film Festival", as well as the "beating heart of culture and entertainment in London".
Hosting the Russian Film Week's opening night at the iconic venue would help "put Russian cinema and films on the world stage and show [attendeess] what great talent Russia has to offer", he said.
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Russian Film Week starts today! 24 Nov - 01 Dec we will be showcasing the best of the current Russian cinema! Tonight is the Grand Opening with the world premiere of "Servant" at @odeonlsq! The best comedy of the year will be presented to you at the most prestigious cinema in the UK! Our special guests director @KlimShipenko and actress @mariya_mironova_actress Expect a lot of celebrities, actors, TV channels and journalists and the perfect festival atmosphere! See you at 6 PM tonight! #russianfilmweek2019 #russianfilmweeklondon #cinema #London #russianfilm #RFW2019 #ServantKlimShipenko #servantworldpremiere
Director Klim Shipenko said that he was inspired to make a "straight comedy film" rather than a traditional romantic comedy, adding that there was a "very recognisable character" in the film's protagonist.
"I have encountered many times in my life these kids that are lost and find their way after ruining their lives by thinking that they can do anything they want", he said.
Commenting on the film's setting, Mr Shipenko found the remote village complete with a smaller set and a larger one was "built onto that" to film the movie in order to create a filming style suitable for comedy which was "not only jokes and laughs" but rather to attract viewers to the big screen.
Russian Film Week will run from 24 November to 1 December, and take place at landmark venues across the UK, including the BFI Southbank, Ciné Lumière, Curzon Mayfair, ODEON Luxe Leicester Square, among others in London, Edinburgh, Oxford and Cambridge and Edinburgh. The event was co-organised by Synergy University and Rock Films, and supported by the Russian Federation Ministry of Culture. Sponsors such as Gazprom and Blavatnik Family Foundation, as well as a host of partners including Kaspersky, Pushkin House, and the University of Edinburgh.