June 27, 2009

Adrien Brody walks the red carpet in Moscow, Russia; Moscow International Film Festival rolls out in grand style

This month is the perfect time to visit Moscow, Russia. Why? The 31st Moscow International Film Festival (MIFF), of course!

There is not a better way not only see the flow of people from around the country to the city where a 9-day yearly festival, June 19-28, 2009, is taken place, but also it might be the only good time to actually see those oil moguls and their "golden hangers" (a.k.a. young non-Muskovite girls) who, even though didn't grow up in the most expensive city of the world, do know how to spend those "oil" money and live the lavish life they’ve always dreamed of growing up in a small village. Thanks to them, those designer boutiques in and around Moscow downtown work extended hours, and those restaurants that prefer a Euro-based price vs. the local Ruble currency light up the streets way passed the dining time. Café Pushkin, Vertinsky, GQ and Café des Artistes will be seeing a lot of the local celebrities, socialites and fashionistas during those 9 days of the festival. In other words, this is a perfect time to see Moscow in all its beauty, aside from the crowd, because Moscow still stands strong in regards to history, art and culture.

Every year, the President of the festival, a worldly acclaimed and much respected director, actors and producer, Nikita Mikhalkov, takes over the capital's cultural scene for whole nine days, showcasing films from around the world, including up and coming new Russian talents, at multiple theatres in the city. American and international audiences might remember Mikhalkov from his Oscar’s winning film “Burn by the Sun” (see below a clip) in 2001, and his last year’s Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign Film for his drama “12”. (Read the film review here.) He didn’t win last year, but it didn’t stop the producers to acquire the film and play it around the country.

Moscow International Film Festival draws bohemian, elite and regular folks to the theatres day and night every year: some come to showcase themselves, some come to actually learn about the new talents and films and share the acquired knowledge and in-person experience with friends and family who didn’t make it to the festival this year.

On June, 19th at the "Pushkin" theatre The 31st Moscow International Film Festival opening ceremony was hosted by the "Oscar's" winner Adrien Brody, who said that he “always dreamed of coming to Moscow: “I know that it’s the country of Stanislavsky method (or The Method as it’s known around the world), the method that influenced many actors around the globe.”

This year 16 films will be competing in the main category: Chamber №6, Petya On the Way To Heaven, The Tsar and Miracle from Russia and films from USA, Germany, Korea, Hungary, Iran, Israel, Mexico, Italy, Poland, and Ukraine. The Closing of festival takes place tomorrow, June, 28th, 2009.

The Moscow International Film Festival (31 Московский международный кинофестиваль) is recognized by the International Federation of Film Producers Associations (FIAPF), and this is the 31st year that it draws talents from around the world. Last year, Charlize Theron and Will Smith along with many other Hollywood and international celebrities walked the red carpet. Check out below the first day of the festival:

The opening film on June 19th was, respectively, a new Russian movie “The Tsar” by one of the Cannes’ favorite Russian directors, Pavel Lungin. In 1565, Ivan the Terrible, Tsar of Russia suffers a defeat in the long war against Poland. Around him, he can see only treachery. To struggle against the traitors, he creates a personal guard, the “Tsar’s Dogs”, whose sign of recognition is a dog’s head attached to their saddles. The Tsar’s Dogs plunge Russia into a blood bath. In alarm, the Metropolitan, the Head of the Russian Church, takes refuge in a monastery. Ivan the Terrible, believing that he can understand and interpret the signs, sees the Last Judgment approaching. So he sends for Metropolitan Philip, his childhood friend, the Superior of the monastery on the Solovki Islands. The latter, attempting to save the innocent from the Tsar’s cruelty, fi ghts increasingly against the Tsar’s power. There is thus a clash between two violently and diametrically opposite visions of the world, smashing morality and justice, God and men. And the closing film on June 28th is from U.S.A., Public Enemies, by Michael Mann starring Johnny Depp, Christina Bale and Marion Cotillard.

The following films are in competition:

1. Bibi (Iran). Director: Hassan Yektapanah.
2. Prank (Hungary). Director: Péter Gárdos.
3. As God Commands // Come Dio comanda (Italy). Director: Gabriele Salvatores.
4. Beauty // Beauty Utusukushiimono (Japan). Director: Toshio Goto.
5. Little Moscow // Mala Moskwa (Poland). Director: Waldemar Krzystek.
6. Melody for a Barrel Organ // Melodiya dlya sharmanki (Ukraine). Director: Kira Muratova.
7. Burning Mooki // Mooki bo'era (Israel). Director: Lena Chaplin, Slava Chaplin.
8. Ward No. 6 // Palata No. 6 (Russia). Director: Karen Shakhnazarov.
9. Pete on the way to Heaven // Petya po doroge v tsarstvie nebesnoe (Russia). Director: Nikolay Dostal.
10. Mediator, The // Mediatori (Germany/Georgia). Director: Dito Tsintsadze
11. Missing Person, The // The Missing Person (USA). Director: Noah Buschel.
12. Five Days without Nora // Cinco días sin Nora (Mexico). Director: Mariana Chenillo.
13. Crayfish // Raci (Bulgaria). Director: Ivan Tscherkelov
14. Happy New Year // Happy New Year (Switzerland). Director: Christoph Schaub.
15. Today and the Other Days // Jeo Nuk Ui Game (South Korea). Director: Choi Wee-An
16. Miracle // Chudo (Russia). Director: Aleksander Proshkin

However, what sets this international film festival aside from its counterparts like Berlin and Rome International Film Festivals is that this festival offers a rather intense program of screenings all around the city, with multiple tributes to global cinematographic geniuses. Here are just a few elements of the festival’s programme: Moscow Euphoria, 8 ½ Films, Blasts From the Past. Seventy Years After the Beginning of the 2nd World War, Russian Trace, Asian Extreme, Films Around the World, Free Thought. Documentary cinema program, Focus on Bulgaria, Indian Panorama, Tribute to Pavel Lungin, Tribute to Shyam Benegal, Tribute to Jerzy Skolimowski, Tribute to Arutyun Khachatryan, Marco Ferreri. Paradoxes, Shakhnazarov's List, Socialist Avant-gardizm. Part 2, Georgian Cinema. From "The Vow" to "Repentance", 1959-2009, Short Film Corner, Russian film programs, and CINE FANTOM ALTERNATIVA.

And if you think that the programme elements is the only difference, you are wrong. Even the carpet is different, it’s green:

In my next article I will cover the essentials on what to do, see, and eat in Moscow, Russia. So, just because you didn’t make it to Moscow in June, August and September are other two great months to visit the city. And it’s less hot too.

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