The inaugural Russian Film Week has landed in London! Featuring over 20 films across multiple cinemas, the Russian Film Week is aimed to showcase the very best of new Russian cinema, as well as shows about Russia. The festival will also feature masterclasses and workshops in film by various figures in Russia cinema, from directors to writers, as well as musical performances and exhibitions across the city.
At today’s Co-Production Day, a networking session to link industry professionals between Russia and the UK, we managed to speak to festival founder Filip Perkon and his thoughts on the festival. Said Perkon “Everything we’re doing this year is all about cross-culture communication. The Golden Unicorn Awards were specially invented for this festival to recognize both filmmakers from Russia, as well as people making films about Russia, in order to encourage more filmmakers to work with Russia and do more films based on Russia.”
The winners of The Golden Unicorn Awards will be announced on 3 December, where a charity gala will be held in support of the Gift of Life UK, a charity dedicated to helping children suffering from life-threatening diseases, and was co-founded by two Russian actresses respectively in Britain and in Russia.
Perkon also mentioned the amazing response so far, with over 90% with over 90% of the tickets sold, and attracting a huge audience of both Russian and non-Russian attendees. He hopes that it will become an annual event, and that it will be more commercially viable in the coming years. Having already gotten funding from public institutions and private institutions like Waterstones though, that doesn’t look too far off. As for the must watch films? Perkon recommends the following: The Green Carriage (Oleg Assadulin), The Good Boy (Oksana Karas) and The Contribution (Sergey Snezhkin).
We also spoke to film directors Kseniya Baskakova, director of Ptitsa and Ilya Uchitel, director of Big Village Lights. Ptitsa tells the story of a rock star who forms an unlikely friendship with a young girl and receives its world premiere at Russian Film Week. Basakovka wanted to get an actual rock star to star in the film, but ultimately decided on famed Russian actor Ivan Okhlobystin, whose real life is essentially that of a rock star’s, clad in tattoos and riding a motorbike.
When asked if it’s difficult to be a female director in an industry so saturated with men, Baskakovka replied, laughing “It’s difficult to be female! In any profession, women have the capability to be as good as men. You need a certain kind of character to survive in this industry in such a difficult profession, but it’s very heartening that we already have quite a few outstanding female directors and camerawomen in Russia doing good work.”
Ilya Uchitel’s comedy Big Village Lights follows the 20 year old Fedya, who attempts to save an old cinema from being turned into a mall by making a hit film to pay off the corrupted officials in charge. This is Uchitel’s first feature film, and at only 24 years old, it’s quite a feat, and receives its UK premiere this Russian Film Week. The film was shot in a small town in between Moscow and St Petersburg, making it more realistic.
On why people should come watch his film, Uchitel said “It’s a film that’s made by a team of young people, including the actors, and it’s good to support young talent! It’s also quite funny, and when it screened in Warsaw recently, I was very happy to see that both the Russians and non-Russians in the audeince were laughing, so thankfully the subtitles managed to translate the humour for everyone!”
With so many exciting options, glitz and glamour, Russian Film Week looks set to stun and bring Russian’s film industry to the fore once again. Be sure to check it out and widen your cultural breadth of knowledge, but more importantly, have a chance to catch some damn good shows.
Russian Film Week runs till 4 December. For tickets, programme and more information, check out their website here