Apart from these four movies, two other Russian projects will be presented at Cannes. These are the new film of Ella Manzheeva The White Road!, which was picked for the L’Atelier section of the Cinefoundation program, and the animation VR series Under The Pillow taking part in the Cannes XR program at the Marche du Film.
Evgenia Markova, the CEO of ROSKINO:
‘For the first time in a while, Russia is so widely represented at the Cannes Film Festival — both in the official and other programs. It is pleasant to see that, this year, there have been Russian projects of various formats chosen: from the films of leading directors to animated series made with VR technology. What’s more is that four of the six projects — Petrov’s Flu, Hytti Nro 6, White Road! and Under The Pillow — were made in co-production. This demonstrates the significance of the course of developing co-production in Russia partaken by ROSKINO a year and a half ago. With all my heart, I congratulate the creators of our films with these accomplishments’.
The drama Petrov's Flu directed by Kirill Serebrennikov and produced by Hype Film is based on the novel The Petrovs In And Around The Flu by Alexey Salnikov. The film was made in co-production with France, Switzerland, Germany and the UK with producers Ilya Stewart, Murad Osmann, and Pavel Burya.
A deadpan, hallucinatory romp through post-Soviet Russia. With the city in the throes of a flu epidemic, the Petrov family struggles through yet another day in a country where the past is never past, the present is a booze-fueled, icy fever dream of violence and tenderness, and where - beneath layers of the ordinary - things turn out to be quite extraordinary.
Ilya Stewart, the film producer:
‘The pandemic played a role in our plans for the release of the film, and it had been a long wait, after an already very challenging filming period for our director. We are excited that the film’s world premiere will finally take place at one of the most important festivals in the world, in front of a live audience and in one of the main venues in Europe. Kirill Serebrennikov is a filmmaker with a unique style, and Petrov’s Flu accurately captures the versatility and essence of the Russian soul. I am immensely proud to be a part of his vision, and want to thank all of our partners for their support and faith during production’.
The second film representing Russia in the main competition will be the film Hykki Nro. 6 by Juho Kuosmanen. It was produced by CTB Film Company (Russia), Aamu Film Company (Finland), Amrion OÜ (Estonia), Achtung Panda! (Germany) with the assistance of Finnish Film Foundation, YLE, ARTE, Estonian Film Institute, Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation, MEDIA, Eurimages.
The film tells a story of а young Finnish woman who escapes an enigmatic love affair in Moscow by boarding the train to the Arctic port of Murmansk. She is forced to share the long ride in a tiny sleeping car with a Russian miner, and this unexpected encounter makes the occupants of Compartment no. 6 face the truth about their yearnings for a human connection.
Juho Kuosmanen, the film director:
‘For me, cinema is a tool for constructing life. It helps us find meaning in this chaos, ease the pain, and make us laugh at our fears’.
Natalya Drozd, the film producer:
‘I am extremely happy with our film, it is a great honor to participate in the main program of the Cannes Film Festival. Juho made an incredibly heartwarming film that shows that people might have more in common than what it might seem like at first sight. This realization appears to be very important in our modern reality’.
Sergey Selyanov, the film producer:
´Of course, we are all very glad and proud to have the film that was produced by CTB Film Company participate in such a festival. All the shootings took place in Russia and were finished just a day before the lockdown was announced and borders were closed. And now, when almost in a month the world premiere of the film will take place, and the festival will begin, we are eagerly anticipating these events’.
The new film House Arrest by director Aleksey German Jr. and the cinema company Metrafilms is selected for the official program ´Un Certain Regard’. The executive producer is Artem Vasilyev from Metrafilms, accompanied by Iouri Stepanov for Outrageous Film (Canada), Georgy Shabanov for All Media (a START Company) and Ilja Tsofin for LM Media (Germany). The film was made with the support of the video platform START and the Foundation for development of modern cinematography KINOPRIME.
In House Arrest, we follow David, a Russian university professor, who goes on social media to criticize his city’s administration. The authorities, instead of starting an investigation of the Mayor’s dodgy affairs, accuse David of embezzlement and place him under house arrest. Despite living under overbearing surveillance, experiencing betrayals by double-crossing acquaintances, and attracting large interest from the media, David remains defiant and would not plead guilty. With the court hearing date drawing ever nearer, does David have any hope of winning this battle against Goliath?
Aleksey German Jr., the film director:
´For me, it’s an experiment since there was only one film set used in the whole production, so the movie’s landing at the Cannes Film Festival is something to be proud of. This film is mainly our love letter to the masters of the great Russian literature: Gogol, Griboedov, and Dostoevsky. The subject of respect and responsibility a citizen ought to have for his/her country is very important to me, and our character strives for a better future that he envisions and to fight for justice’.
Artem Vasilyev, the executive producer:
‘For the House Arrest to be selected for the official program of the festival is a milestone for both the director and the company Metrafilms. For us, it’s a great honor to be part of the program that was finalized by the jury after watching almost 2300 films. Usually, there are only about 1800 applications. We have been working with Aleksey for more than 15 years, and our joint projects have been presented at the Venice film festival (Paper Soldier) and the Berlinale (Under Electric Clouds, Dovlatov). The recommendation to Cannes speaks of the film’s quality and the obvious interest in the craftsmanship of Aleksey German Jr. from the world cinema community’.
The second project that will represent Russia in the ´Un Certain Regard’ will be the film Unclenching The Fists by a young director Kira Kovalenko. In 2015, ROSKINO spotted this talented director and invited her short film They Abandoned Me in the Global Russians project that takes place annually at the Russian pavilion at the Cannes Film Festival. And now, the film by Kira Kovalenko is in the official program of the festival.
Up in the mountains in North Ossetia, there is a small mining town of Mizur that nestles between sheer cliffs. Following certain dramatic events, Zaur moved his children Ada, Akim, and Dakko there. Zaur is a strict father who values discipline above all and doesn’t see the difference between caring for and being overprotective. His eldest son, Akim, has already escaped from his father to work in Rostov, the closest city to Mizur. His younger brother, Dakko, has yet to decide what he wants from life, and their sister Ada is actively planning her escape. She is a grown woman but her father still treats her like a child. Ada will soon realize that it will be very hard to escape her father's grip and begin to live on her own. The return of the eldest brother Akim will help to shine a light on the family’s buried and unhealed traumas.
Kira Kovalenko, the film director:
‘The initial inspiration for the story came from a line in Faulkner’s Intruder in the Dust that pointed to the idea that while there are some people who can endure slavery, nobody can deal with freedom. The idea of freedom being a burden was the single most important theme for me when I was working on the film. Inevitably, the same idea led me to reflect on the burden of memory and the link between the two. Is it possible to get freed from memory?’
Alexander Rodnyansky, producer:
‘I am very happy for Kira. Being selected for the official program of the Cannes Film Festival is a massive achievement and proof of artistic talent. Unclenching The Fists is a very brave and mature work that combines a deep understanding of human psychology and the evident artistry of the author. The film is also unique in the sense that it explored North Osetia, previously the terra incognita in the film industry. The search for new talent is still my main priority, and I am very happy with the results. The new generation of directors is entering the industry with dignity’.
In the L’Atelier section of the Cinefoundation program, the selection committee chose the film The White Road!. This mystical drama is the work of Ella Manzheeva and producers Elena Glikman and Victoria Lupik.
The White Road! is a modern myth, where a successful young man, Aldar, returns to his native Kalmykia, a republic in Southern Russia, to search for his late mother in the endless steppe. The people in this area are related to nearby Mongolians—their spirits are guided by Tibetan Buddhism. Aldar and his mother go down a road they did not have time to follow while she was still alive.
The L’Atelier section of the Cinefoundation program was established in 2005 to develop and support independent films.
Ella Manzheeva, the film director:
‘The White Road! is a modern myth that will be relatable to everyone who has experienced the loss of not only their loved ones but the inner loss of themselves as well, in their life. It is kind of a road movie inside my subconscious, the memory of ancestors, defenders of the faith in front of social problems, spiritual poverty, and hunger. This is a prayer for the salvation of the Égrégore of the victory of my people. Creating new worlds is a unique opportunity to talk about yourself. Sometimes words oversimplify feelings, thoughts, or emotions we experience. There are many ways and forms to express this unique energy of the author. And the process of cognition is much more important than the final result. This film is the road that I walk. I've learned to be honest’.
Victoria Lupik, the producer:
‘The idea of The White Road! has been around for over 7 years. Through this time, we were constantly developing the project: we edited the script, looked for co-production partners, created a biography for the film. Even at the pre-production stage, the project is already known not only in our country, but in other countries as well, as we have taken part in the pitching sessions of several major film festivals. By now we already have a support of the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation, Mongolian and French co-producers and terms of production are already set. As a result, we submitted the film to several funds in search of additional funding. Now we need to find a sales agent and a distributor and develop the festival strategy. We hope that participation in the Atelier will help us achieve these goals’.
Elena Glikman, the producer:
‘The White Road! is the first Russian film in 15 years to be selected for L’Atelier. Films included in such programs acquire a high status, arouse the interest of the professional world community, and are in the lights of special attention of the press. I'm saying it with confidence, as we've had a similar experience with Ella Manzheeva's previous film The Gulls, which has been a participant of several business programs – from pitching to works-in-progress. This helped the film to be selected for the Forum program of the Berlin Film Festival and contributed to its festival journey around the world: Karlovy Vary, Tallinn, Warsaw, Los Angeles, Brisbane, Edinburgh and many others. The Gulls had over 300 publications on the pages of the world mass media’.
The Russian-Belarusian interactive VR animation Under The Pillow by director and producer Georgy Molodtsov has made the festival program of ´Cannes XR’ at the Marche du Film at Cannes Film Festival. The pilot will be shown to the audience for the first time at the ´VeeR Future Award’ — the program targeted to blend film and immersive technology.
The animated story is based on a fairytale by Sergey Molodtsov, a journalist from the Ural and the father of director Georgy Molodtsov. It is a one-of-a-kind animated project with traditional animation series, interactive VR series, and a mobile AR game about Mormitten, the handmade cuddly kitten-like toy, who helps children find their beloved "treasures", as well as to overcome difficult periods in their lives.
Georgy Molodtsov, the film director:
´The creation of this VR-film is not only a tribute to my dad who created the imaginary cat Mormitten for my sister and me to help us go through difficult times but it is also a great demonstration of the possibility of including gaming environments in animated projects. We decided to finance the production ourselves and managed to get straight to the international market since the share of VR projects in Russia is a small one. We hope that this project will draw the attention of our colleagues who might have been searching for a new kind and friendly character for kids and the technologies to bring this character to life’.
This year, the Cannes Film Festival will be held from the 6th to the 17th of July instead of May as usual. However, it will take place in the offline format despite the restrictions imposed due to the spread of the COVID disease.
A Hollywood actress and director Jodie Foster will appear as an honorable guest at the opening of this 74th Cannes International Film Festival. She will be awarded a Palme d'Or as a sign of her recognition as a brilliant actress and filmmaker. The opening film will be Annette by the French director Leos Carax. This year, the American director, Spike Lee, will be the head of the jury of the festival.