For­get Hol­ly­wood, watch Rus­sian films

Business World - - Arts & Leisure - By Susan Claire Ag­bayani

THE Cold War lasted for 45 years, and ended in 1990. Through­out those years, the por­trayal of the for­mer Union of Soviet So­cial­ist Re­publics by Hol­ly­wood af­fected the mind-sets of not just two gen­er­a­tions, but the prog­eny of th­ese gen­er­a­tions as well.

Twenty-eight years later comes a chance to learn more about Rus­sia thanks to the first-ever Rus­sian Film Week in the Philip­pines. A wide va­ri­ety of Rus­sian movies are be­ing screened free of charge at SM Mega­mall and SM Mall of Asia with 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. screen­ings un­til to­mor­row, Dec. 8.

It’s in­ter­est­ing to note that of four of the seven films are based on true sto­ries. Per­haps the most in­ter­est­ing is Alek­sey Uchi­tel’s bio­graph­i­cal his­tor­i­cal drama Mathilde. Set in the twi­light of Im­pe­rial Rus­sia, the film tack­les the life of prima bal­le­rina Matilda Ksh­esin­skaya who be­came the mis­tress of not just one or two, but three grand dukes in­clud­ing the then-fu­ture Tsar Ni­cholas II.

Niko­lay Khome­riki’s ac­tion/ ad­ven­ture/drama Lekodol, or The Ice­breaker is based on the story of the ship Mikhail So­mov which — af­ter a col­li­sion — was trapped in ice and forced to drift near the coast of Antarc­tica for more than four months in 1985.

In Klim Shipenko’s his­tor­i­cal ac­tion drama, Sa­lyut-7, the space craft loses con­tact with its space sta­tion, and cos­mo­nauts Vladimir Dzhanibekov and Vik­tor Savinykh “dock with the empty, frozen craft, and bring her back to life,” ac­cord­ing to a syn­op­sis from IMDB.

OF LOVE AND WAR

The Sergey Mokrit­skiy-megged fes­ti­val open­ing film Bat­tle for Sev­astopol is a bio­graph­i­cal ro­mance drama set at Sev­astopol, Ukraine dur­ing World War II. It is about Lyud­mila Pavlichenko, who is touted as the most suc­cess­ful fe­male sniper in his­tory, her loves, and her friend­ship with for­mer United States First Lady Eleanor Roo­sevelt.

“This movie is about love and how dif­fi­cult it was for the hero­ine to love dur­ing th­ese ter­ri­ble years of the war,” said di­rec­tor Mokrit­skiy dur­ing a speech at the open­ing rites of the film­fest at Cine­math­eque Manila. “Twenty-six mil­lion Rus­sians died in (the Sec­ond World) War; much more than the losses of the United States and Bri­tain. Not a sin­gle fam­ily (did not) suf­fer some kind of loss be­cause of this war,” he said through an in­ter­preter.

“War...is not the best en­vi­ron­ment for love. But love must pre­vail even un­der crazy, ter­ri­ble, aw­ful con­di­tions of war. That’s the main mes­sage of the film,” said Rus­sian Am­bas­sador Igor Kho­vaev told Busi­nessWorld.

The Cold War be­tween the United States and other Western pow­ers on the one hand, and the USSR and Soviet bloc coun­tries on the other, started in 1945, and yet the friend­ship be­tween Pavlichenko and Roo­sevelt lasted to the end of their lives.

“True, real love and friend­ship shouldn’t de­pend on pol­i­tics. They should be above any, all po­lit­i­cal con­tra­dic­tions and dif­fer­ences. At that time, the re­la­tion­ship be­tween the Soviet Union and the United States was very com­pli­cated. So the re­la­tions were full of trou­bles, very deep, very se­ri­ous, very dan­ger­ous con­tra­dic­tions. But de­spite all those chal­lenges, de­spite all those dis­putes, friend­ship, love would pre­vail. It was a friend­ship for­ever,” Mr. Kho­vaev said.

“My big­gest hope and dream is that (th­ese films) will help Filipinos un­der­stand Rus­sia and Rus­sian peo­ple bet­ter, thereby open­ing up new hori­zons for our part­ner­ship and friend­ship,” he said.

Al­though she was abroad dur­ing the fes­ti­val open­ing, Film De­vel­op­ment Coun­cil of the Philip­pines (FDCP) Chair and CEO Mary Liza Dino re­layed this mes­sage: “The FDCP strongly be­lieves in the film’s ca­pac­ity to tran­scend cul­tural bar­ri­ers. Through our film cul­tural ex­change pro­gram, we proudly part­ner with em­bassies and cul­tural or­ga­ni­za­tions in pro­vid­ing plat­forms for for­eign films to be show­cased in the coun­try. Film fes­ti­vals such as this pro­vide op­por­tu­ni­ties for our lo­cal au­di­ence to be ex­posed to a wide va­ri­ety of for­eign films from dif­fer­ent parts of the world.”

Other films be­ing shown at the fes­ti­val are: A Rough Draft, a fan­tasy about a video game de­signer also di­rected by Mokrit­skiy; Emilis Ve­lyvis’ ac­tion/ad­ven­ture/fan­tasy Night Watch­men; and Alek­sey Miz­girev’s ad­ven­ture drama

The Duelist, about a for­mer army veteran who set­tles du­els for aris­to­crats in 19th cen­tury Im­pe­rial Rus­sia).

To be shown tonight are Night Watch­men, 6 p.m., and Mathilde, 8 p.m. at SM Mega­mall; and Ice­breaker, 6 p.m., and Duelist, 8 p.m. at MOA.

To be screened to­mor­row, Dec. 8, are Sa­lyut 7, 6 p.m., and A

Rough Draft, 8 p.m., at SM Mega­mall; and Bat­tle for Sev­astopol, 6 p.m., and Night Watch­men, 8 p.m., at MOA.

A RUS­SIAN lan­guage poster for

Bat­tle for Sev­astopol

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