Russian films at Canadian festival
Seven Russian films are taking part in the Montreal World Film Festival from the 18th to the 28th of August. The Russian films will also participate in the competition programme.
One of such films is a drama called “Once There Lived a Woman” made by well-known actor and director Andrey Smirnov. This film touches upon a theme which is absolutely undeveloped in Russian cinema: Russian peasants’ resistance to the Bolsheviks’ power in the 1920s, Russian peasants’ riots. The plot revolves around the tragic fate of an ordinary Russian woman.
Andrey Smirnov says that he started thinking about this plot 20 years ago . He was sure that after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the fall of the Soviet power his colleagues would snatch at formerly closed and tabooed historical subjects but he was mistaken. On the contrary, serious historical films went out of fashion. The screens of Russian cinemas were flooded with foreign and first of all Hollywood productions.
“The idea to take such a plot could come only when we were sure that there would be no censorship any more, - Andrey Smirnov remembers. – This idea came in 1987 and I started writing the script in the 1990s, with long intervals. While I was writing it, Russian cinema was rapidly changing before my eyes. I understood that I would have viewers who were absolutely different from those I had in my previous years. These viewers have been brought up by Hollywood. My film started to take shape when I realized that the main character should be a woman, an ordinary Russian village woman who bears the nightmare of the civil war and all social catastrophes.”
Another Russian film on the Montreal Festival’s programme is the documentary “Africa: Blood & Beauty” made by Sergey Yastrzhembsky, President Boris Yeltsin’s former press-secretary. After leaving politics, Yastrzhembsky went into film-making and photography. In his film he tells a story about the so-called primary peoples of the Black Continent, they are also referred to as forefather nations. Sergey Yastrzhembsky believes that those peoples are doomed either to assimilation or death.
“I am sure that we are filming the last moments of primordial life. We are not inventing anything and are not creating any artificial arrangements. We are filming what really exists in the life of those people. Our film is a video documentation and we consider it our contribution to cultural and ethnographic heritage.”
Hard to say whether the jury will share the director’s opinion. However, the one-and-a-half-hour film “Africa: Blood & Beauty” will be shown in the nomination of World Documentary Films dedicated to global problems.