GLOBAL RUSSIANS ANTHOLOGY OF RUSSIAN SHORTS PRESENTED IN CANNES
On May 19, 2019, the Russian Pavilion at the 72nd Cannes International Film Festival and Marché du Film presented the new selection of Global Russians. The annual anthology of Russian shorts was launched in 2011, curated by ROSKINO CEO Katya Mtsitouridze. Over the years, screenwriter and director Alexey Chupov, film critics Andrey Plakhov and Viktor Prokofiev, producers Ivan Lopatin and Dmitry Yakunin have worked as invited curators.
This year, the anthology includes six shorts in Instagram format (60 seconds in length) on the subject Empathy Is Our Future Capital, made exclusively for the multi-format inclusivity project Film Education Without Borders. The project’s participants presented their works in person at the Russian Pavilion and had the opportunity to take part in the Cannes Film Festival’s student programs, including the Short Film Corner, meet industry professionals, network with colleagues and find partners for future projects.
The project Film Education Without Borders is organized by ROSKINO, supported by Sberbank, aiming to people with disabilities to work in the art industry. The project’s mission is developing accessible environment and ensuring that everyone in Russia is culturally integrated.
Katya Mtsitouridze, ROSKINO CEO:
“I want to express my gratitude to Sberbank for supporting our project Film Education Without Borders – Russia is still only catching on the idea that projects like this are necessary. We are going to further develop it, and are already planning a series of events in Moscow: a retrospective of films about characters who overcome obstacles, a master class and a panel discussion. Cinema is increasingly commercialized, there’s too much talk about box office and too little about art. But for us the subject matter – empathy – is important. A film that gives no hope may be a powerful piece of art but how much good does it bring into the world? It’s so difficult to tell stories about people whose lives are hard but do so in such a way as to make us feel elated when credits roll. I think that all the films we are showing today achieve that.”
Just like the day before at the presentation of young Russian producers, the Pavilion provided a platform for filmmakers who are only making their first steps in the profession: all films were made by students of Nikolay Lebedev’s workshop at the the Arka Film School, branch of the Higher School of Economics: Elena Nodel, Irina Sadchikova, Anton Shebanov, Viacheslav Shiryaev, Olga Tarasova, and Zaur Tsogoev. The directors who came to Cannes to present their projects in person were introduced by ROSKINO CEO Katya Mtsitouridze and director, screenwriter, mentor of the directing workshop at the Arka Film School, branch of the Higher School of Economics Nikolay Lebedev.
Kristina Voloshina, one of the founders of Arka, also spoke: “I want to thank ROSKINO and Katya Mtsitouridze for all the work that they’ve done, for their personal approach to every student. And to thank Nikolay Lebedev who put his soul into the kids. To our participants for their work. And to Sberbank for their priceless support.”
Nikolay Lebedev a major Russian director, famous for his blockbuster hits Legend No. 17, The Crew, The Star, guides his students through every stage of film production, from script to editing. The main goal of his workshop is developing creative individuality and signature style.
Nikolay Lebedev, director, screenwriter, mentor of the directing workshop at the Arka Film School:
“I think it’s amazing if the door into the profession opens at the world’s largest film festival. I am happy that my workshop’s alumni have the opportunity to be in Cannes and show what they’re capable of. They are talented, passionate enthusiasts. I hope there’s a bright path laying ahead of them. I am grateful to the Cannes Film Festival and Market’s management for this wonderful platform open to participants from all over the world, and I want to thank ROSKINO and personally Katya Mtsitouridze for supporting new talent and giving the kids this opportunity. They’ll live up to it!”
The program was selected by a jury, which included Katya Mtsitouridze, Denis Kataev, film expert for TV Rain, programmer at the Documentary Film Center (Moscow), Vasily Koretsky, film critic, senior editor at KinoPoisk, Boris Nelepo, film critic, chairman of the selection committee at the International Debut Film Festival Spirit of Fire, and Denis Ruzaev, film critic, culture chief editor at Lenta.ru.
“I make no difference between a short and a feature. A film is a film. We have a very representative selection: the films are very different but every one of them merits attention,” says Boris Nelepo.
“Doesn’t matter what the running time is and how the film is made. It could be shot on an iPhone. It is a contemporary trend, and the Russian pavilion is keeping up with the time. Other directors will catch up soon enough,” Denis Kataev added.
“Cannes would be much more agile if all the films were 60 seconds long. Quality of direction is immediately obvious at such a running time. I’d like to note that the overall quality was high not only in the six selected works. Decisions were unanimous but difficult,” Denis Ruzaev said.
Anton Shebanov presented his film Charge, made on a contemporary subject of gadget dependency. The director says that “people escape to the world of technology and stop noticing what’s really important.” Shebanov confesses that the most difficult part of production was to create an abstract reality and vivid, unusual characters. “For me, film is not business or a job, it’s a necessity,” said Shebanov at the presentation. “It’s vitally important for me to have the opportunity to tell stories, create worlds and communicate with people through that. Which is why I take this opportunity responsibly, and being here in Cannes as a part of this project is a unique chance.”
Zaur Tsogoev’s short Theft takes place in an apartment at night. To burglars break in and discover that the place is owned by an old man, veteran of World War II. “For me, participating in this project is a new experience, new knowledge, a new challenge,” says the director. “The most important thing is that other people’s work, which made this possible, was not in vain.”
The 60-second long Hope Doll tells a story about two young girls who find a one-legged doll. One girl throws it away, but the other pick it up and bring the doll home. Elena Nodel, the director, thinks that empathy should be cultivated in young children from the very early years of their lives. “The script was written very quickly, in one breath. I get the wind knocked out of me every time I re-read it. In Instagram format clarity and simplicity are the most important,” says Elena. “I am overjoyed to be here. I was given a great chance and I’ll do my best to live up to it.”
The one-minute film Repeat takes place over several decades: the beginning is set in the Soviet times, and the ending in our day. Viacheslav Shiryaev’s work is about the fathers and sons problem – the balance of giving and taking, and not their differences. Audience have noted the music at the discussion: it was composed by a young musician Oleg Berkov-Skinyukov. “For me, being included in Global Russians is an opportunity to learn something about myself,” Viacheslav Shiryaev noted. “Am I able to say something important? Do I need to be a filmmaker at all? Creative people always doubt themselves. If the feedback is good, I will have motivation to go on working in film.”
The idea to make a film about a hearing impaired boy who conducts a real orchestra, was sparked by reading Joseph Rot’s novel Job. That was how Olga Tarasova’s Please Turn Around came about. Conductor Vladislav Lavrik agreed to play himself, and the full Russian National Orchestra decided to participate. Over eighty people were on the set of a one-minute film. The film’s producer Maria Chamberlain also spoke at the presentation: together with the director, they offered a special gratitude to the orchestra. Please Turn Around moved the audience at the presentation. A visitor from Algeria, who visits Marché du Film for the first time, said that the short proved once again: stories about people with disabilities are important, no matter where you are from, Africa, Europe, or anywhere else. “The film’s protagonist talks to us through Shostakovich’s symphony,” Olga Tarasova said. “That is probably why these were genuine tears in the eyes of the actress who played the mother.” Olga dedicated the film to her cousin Denis who is wheelchair-bound since childhood.
The Follower is a story about a young man who failed an exam at a university. The professor has to decide his fate. Many years later, the student returns to the school as a dean, and now it’s his turn to make a decision. Director Irina Sadchikova says that making a one-minute film is no different from any production: it still requires script and planning. “My project’s idea is simple: empathy is a circular flow,” the director explained at the presentation. “If you help someone without expecting anything in return, it will come back when you least expect it. Participating in Global Russians is a great honor, an opportunity to be a part of the global industry and learning new trends. I want to thank Katya Mtsitouridze who believed in us and our mentor Nikolay Lebedev who was always there for us.”
In the conclusion, Katya Mtsitouridze made a present to Nikolay Lebedev: the first copy of Moscow in Motion, a book of photographs that ROSKINO and Anton Lange worked on for a year and a half. The book was made to support the Moscow Film Commission in 120 shooting says.
Russian presence at the 72nd Cannes Film Festival and Marché du Film is organized by ROSKINO, supported by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Russian Ministry of Culture, Sir Leonard Blavatnik and Aeroflot.
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