Mikhail Lukachevsky – Urun kun AKA A White Day (2013)

On a frozen dark night in remote Siberia, a group of strangers travel home together in a van. When the driver refuses to stop for an elder, a darkening shadow looms over what could possibly be the most tragic night of their lives. This dramatic and thrilling feature with its poetic pacing and exquisite cinematography is easily one of Lukachevskyi’s finest works.

Winner — Best Dramatic Feature — 15th International Film Festival of Indigenous Peoples ImagineNATIVE in Toronto Continue reading Mikhail Lukachevsky – Urun kun AKA A White Day (2013)

Andrey Zvyagintsev – Nelyubov AKA Loveless (2017)

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Loveless (winner of the Jury Prize at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival) is a Russian drama film directed by Andrey Zvyagintsev – acclaimed director of Leviathan, and The Return.

The story concerns two separated parents who have lost their young son and attempt to find him. It was shot in Moscow, with international support after the Russian government disapproved of Zvyagintsev’s 2014 film Leviathan. Loveless opened at Cannes to critical acclaim.

In Moscow, a married couple, Zhenya and Boris, are in the midst of obtaining a divorce, with much animosity. They have a 12-year-old son, Alyosha, who witnesses the two arguing heatedly. Alyosha afterwards vanishes. Boris and Zhenya appeal to police for assistance in finding the boy, but the police reply they are too busy and tell them to find volunteers for search and rescue instead. Continue reading Andrey Zvyagintsev – Nelyubov AKA Loveless (2017)

Andrey Konchalovskiy – Ray AKA Paradise (2016)

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Feature film about three people whose paths cross during a terrible time of war: Olga, a Russian aristocratic emigrant and member of the French Resistance; Jules, a French collaborator; and Helmut, a high-ranking German SS officer. Olga is arrested for hiding Jewish children during a raid. Her case is investigated by Jules who, attracted to her, offers to be soft on her if she’ll sleep with him. But his intentions are cut short when he is killed by Resistance fighters. Olga is put into a concentration camp where she encounters Helmut who was once madly in love with her and still harbours feelings for her. Together they embark on a twisted and destructive relationship. As the Nazis face imminent defeat, Helmut decides to save Olga and escape with her to South America. Although she initially agrees to go with him, at the last moment she changes her mind. Prepared to die for her beliefs – the idea that all lives have a purpose and that even in the direst circumstances, people are capable… Continue reading Andrey Konchalovskiy – Ray AKA Paradise (2016)

Dimitri Venkov – The Hymns of Muscovy (2018)

Synopsis
To tell a history through architecture and music, the film matches the styles of Moscow’s 20th- and 21st-century buildings with electronic variations of the Soviet and Russian national anthem. The juxtaposition captures an aesthetic evolution driven by the evolution of ideology. Continue reading Dimitri Venkov – The Hymns of Muscovy (2018)

Aleksandr Sokurov – Peterburgskiy dnevnik: Mozart. Rekviem (2004)

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– Sokurov directed and filmed Mozart’s Requiem for the Rossica Choir in the wonderful hall of the St. Petersburg Philharmonic. Preceded by his student film, inspired by La Traviata.

The first night of a performance of Mozart’s Requiem staged by Alexander Sokurov, with the Rossica choir from St. Petersburg, led by Valentina Kopylova-Pantchenko, took place in the small hall of the St. Petersburg Philharmonic at the end of the winter of 2003. The choir holds a special place in this presentation of the Requiem – it is the main actor and plays the main role. The director was looking to give a new resonance to classical music in both an aesthetic as well as a musical context. On stage, the action takes place in a clear, simple, dynamic and beautiful way, within the space of a magnificent hall. The performance was a surprising revelation even for music-lovers. Continue reading Aleksandr Sokurov – Peterburgskiy dnevnik: Mozart. Rekviem (2004)

Nikita Mikhalkov – Utomlyonnye solntsem 2 aka Burnt by the Sun 2 (2010)

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Plot:
Epic film about WWII, a sequel to Burnt by the Sun (1994). Evil Stalin is terrorizing people of Russia while the Nazis are advancing. Russian officer Kotov, who miraculously survived the death sentence in Stalin’s Purge, is now fighting in the front lines. His daughter, Nadia, who survived a rape attempt by Nazi soldiers, is now a nurse risking her own life to save others. In the war-torn nation even former enemies are fighting together to defend their land. People stand up united for the sake of victory. The deadly war comes at very high cost: the Nazis are killing people, burning villages, raping women, bombing churches, destroying bridges. Hoping to survive, Kotov and his daughter are having visions of each other, but their dreams fade amidst massive bombardment. Fire and smoke eclipses the sun. The land around becomes lifeless, defenseless and littered with the dead. Then the dead are covered by snow. Life is over. Only a butterfly is flying above the weapons and corpses, alluding to eternity. Continue reading Nikita Mikhalkov – Utomlyonnye solntsem 2 aka Burnt by the Sun 2 (2010)

Andrey Konchalovskiy – Ray AKA Paradise (2016)

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Paradise tells the compelling story of three individuals, Olga, Jules and Helmut, whose paths cross amidst the devastation of war. Olga, a Russian aristocratic immigrant and member of the French Resistance, is arrested by Nazi police for hiding Jewish children during a surprise raid. As her punishment, she is sent to jail where she meets Jules, a French-Nazi collaborator who is assigned to investigate her case. Jules grows fond of Olga and offers to go light on her punishment in exchange for sexual favors. Although Olga agrees, and will do whatever it takes to avoid harsh persecution, her hope for freedom quickly fades when events take an unexpected turn. Shipped to a concentration camp, Olga is forced into a life of hell. To her surprise, she crosses paths with high-ranking German SS officer Helmut, who once fell madly in love with her and still harbors feelings. They re-kindle their old flame and embark on a twisted and destructive relationship. Helmut resolves to rescue Olga and offers her an escape that she no longer thought possible. Yet as time passes, and the fate of Nazi defeat looms, Olga’s notion of paradise is irrevocably changed. Continue reading Andrey Konchalovskiy – Ray AKA Paradise (2016)