MIFF-2021 Special

MEANING/REVIEW
by Ksenia Slasten and Misha Belolipetskaya
10.05.2021
Together with Bes Of Culture, we have prepared a special article about MIFF-2021 films. Ksenia Slasten and Misha Belolipetskaya will tell you about the biography of the genius, the war drama and novel film adaptation.
Durov (2021) by Rodion Chepel

By Ksenia Slasten


We watched a documentary by Rodion Chepel about one of the Internet's most enigmatic figures, the creator of the social networks VKontakte and Telegram, Pavel Durov. The screening was delayed by half an hour, and there was a full house in the auditorium with viewers even sitting on the stairs. Perhaps this interest in the film was due to the fact that we really do not know anything about Durov, although we use his achievements every day. The hero himself is not in the film, but there are his closest associates who have been with him since the beginning: classmates, teachers, investors. According to the director, this is the maximum a documentary filmmaker can get when he wants to write or film something about Pavel, as Durov values his privacy very much. The film looks quite vivid, with the viewer learning sequentially how the largest social network was created, from Pavel's successes at school to the story of the blockchain platform TON.

The film leaves an ambiguous impression. It does not provide a clear answer to the question of what kind of person Durov is: bad or good, whether his fans or haters are right. Here's Pavel - a student who dreams of becoming an Internet tot, creates a website that helps students. In the next story he fires an associate because of a complaint from a girl who dislikes that very associate. He scatters bills from the window of the Singer House and writes on his own social network wall that money is worthless, and then donates a million dollars to Wikipedia. The characters in the film don't help too, they are all either afraid to say anything bad about Durov, or they don't want to, or they simply have nothing to say. Everything they say can also be learned from other resources: the fact that Pavel is secretive, opinionated and brilliant is already perfectly seen from his personal page.

Despite this ambiguity, however, the film can and should be watched. More fascinating than any article, it tells the story of the creation of VKontakte and Telegram, something without which we cannot imagine life today; it prompts reflection on privacy, genius, ambition, trust, and much more. Everyone will find something different to think about.

Devyataev (2021) by Sergey Trofimov and Timur Bekmambetov

By Misha Belolipetskaya


The Russian viewer is used to thinking that films released on the eve of Victory Day are necessarily an imposed patriotism and a parasitization of history and its witnesses. Is it part of our mentality to put either an emphatically positive or a purely negative stamp, up to and including «I didn't watch it, but I condemn it»?

Not all Russians were heroes, not all prisoners were traitors - that is one of the main messages of the film. But the film is not just about that, it's about forgiveness and understanding.

The film is about Mikhail Devyataev, a Soviet pilot, who was taken prisoner during World War II and escaped on the plane he hijacked. The film is based on official myths, but, of course, the fate of the hero was much more encompassing. Most viewers coming to the screening are likely to learn about the story for the first time. Therefore, the emphasis on the action itself, which the makers chose over exposition by making it rather brief, seems a good decision.

In addition, part of the action takes place in the air, so the simulation game War Thunder was used to create the flight scenes instead of the traditional "greens'', where different scenarios of air battles were played out and simulated, and then the software data from the game was transferred to the film. This allowed to achieve maximum realism and made Devyataev the first Russian picture that used this technology.

The plot is based on the confrontation of two views of former friends, one of whom goes over to the side of Nazi Germany, while the other, thanks to his conscience, remains faithful to the Soviet Union to the very end, knowing the risks and knowing that by one of the Soviet orders is already a "traitor to the Motherland".

Everyone has their own truth, and by showing this the film does not descend into pseudo-patriotism with categorically good Russians. Its characters cannot be divided into "good" and "bad", and I want to believe that Devyataev will become one of the films which will make the stamp of "warlordism", "parasitism" and the imposition of patriotism begin to disappear from our viewers' minds.

Last «Dear Bulgaria» (2021) by Alexey Fedorchenko

By Ksenia Slasten


«Last «Dear Bulgaria» is a free interpretation of Mikhail Zoshchenko's long-suffering autobiographical novel Before Sunrise (1943), directed by Alexey Fedorchenko.

«Dear Bulgaria» in the title of the film is the name of a variety of apple which the protagonist Leonid Etz grew in Alma-Ata in 1943. Along the way, he investigates the disappearance of writer Semyon Kurochkin. Leonid finds his diaries and through them tries to understand what happened to the famous writer. At the same time, he tries to save the last seeds of a unique apple variety. The film is about Leonid and Semyon, a gripping detective story and a mosaic biography, a reflection on the nature of his depression and the oppression of an entire generation, which has been through a chain of upheavals: World War I, the Civil War, the Revolution and the Patriotic War. The director uses unusual ways of differentiating these two stories. The story set in Alma-Ata has vivid colours and regular frame composition. Semyon's line, since it's still a flashback, has much paler colours - but how freely the director handles the frame space there! We see the scene from three or more angles at once, which gives the action a certain decorative and theatrical quality. This technique loads the viewer, and at first, the eyes are diverted and can not assemble the picture into something whole, but then this vision captivates, especially because the "tension" skillfully alternates with the usual building blocks of Leonid's life.

The two lines of the film move in opposite directions. We don't just watch Leonid from his birth, we even know how his parents met. The story of his time in military Alma-Ata unfolds unhurriedly, sequentially. Leonid meets a director who is making a film about Ivan the Terrible (of course, there is a reference to Sergei Eisenstein behind this image). At one point, the film's reedy setting becomes the setting for Kurochkin's memories. It goes in the opposite direction. Though Leonid investigates the story of Semyon's 'disappearance', it is obvious that he is dead. The task of the protagonist is to understand how he died. In the course of reading the diaries, the question "how" turns into "why", because the diaries go in reverse order, and in the course of them the cause becomes the effect. In this way, Leonid understands the origins of Semyon's depression and learns new things about himself. And the viewer, comparing the two characters, draws a conclusion from "a study of melancholy, not only of Zoshchenko but of an entire generation of the intelligentsia of the time," as the director calls his film.

It should be noted that this film is the only one from Russia in the main programme of the MIFF. And it's good that our cinema is presented with a film of a level so high that one wants to revisit it in order to find new meanings and new facets.

 
Tilda Publishing
MIFF-2021 Special
by Ksenia Slasten and Misha Belolipetskaya
10.05.2021
Together with Bes Of Culture, we have prepared a special article about MIFF-2021 films. Ksenia Slasten and Misha Belolipetskaya will tell you about the biography of the genius, the war drama and novel film adaptation
Durov (2021) by Rodion Chepel

By Ksenia Slasten
We watched a documentary by Rodion Chepel about one of the Internet's most enigmatic figures, the creator of the social networks VKontakte and Telegram, Pavel Durov. The screening was delayed by half an hour, and there was a full house in the auditorium with viewers even sitting on the stairs. Perhaps this interest in the film was due to the fact that we really do not know anything about Durov, although we use his achievements every day. The hero himself is not in the film, but there are his closest associates who have been with him since the beginning: classmates, teachers, investors. According to the director, this is the maximum a documentary filmmaker can get when he wants to write or film something about Pavel, as Durov values his privacy very much. The film looks quite vivid, with the viewer learning sequentially how the largest social network was created, from Pavel's successes at school to the story of the blockchain platform TON.

The film leaves an ambiguous impression. It does not provide a clear answer to the question of what kind of person Durov is: bad or good, whether his fans or haters are right. Here's Pavel - a student who dreams of becoming an Internet tot, creates a website that helps students. In the next story he fires an associate because of a complaint from a girl who dislikes that very associate. He scatters bills from the window of the Singer House and writes on his own social network wall that money is worthless, and then donates a million dollars to Wikipedia. The characters in the film don't help too, they are all either afraid to say anything bad about Durov, or they don't want to, or they simply have nothing to say. Everything they say can also be learned from other resources: the fact that Pavel is secretive, opinionated and brilliant is already perfectly seen from his personal page.

Despite this ambiguity, however, the film can and should be watched. More fascinating than any article, it tells the story of the creation of VKontakte and Telegram, something without which we cannot imagine life today; it prompts reflection on privacy, genius, ambition, trust, and much more. Everyone will find something different to think about.
Devyataev (2021)

by Sergey Trofimov

and Timur Bekmambetov

By Misha Belolipetskaya
The Russian viewer is used to thinking that films released on the eve of Victory Day are necessarily an imposed patriotism and a parasitization of history and its witnesses. Is it part of our mentality to put either an emphatically positive or a purely negative stamp, up to and including «I didn't watch it, but I condemn it»?

Not all Russians were heroes, not all prisoners were traitors - that is one of the main messages of the film. But the film is not just about that, it's about forgiveness and understanding.

The film is about Mikhail Devyataev, a Soviet pilot, who was taken prisoner during World War II and escaped on the plane he hijacked. The film is based on official myths, but, of course, the fate of the hero was much more encompassing. Most viewers coming to the screening are likely to learn about the story for the first time. Therefore, the emphasis on the action itself, which the makers chose over exposition by making it rather brief, seems a good decision.

In addition, part of the action takes place in the air, so the simulation game War Thunder was used to create the flight scenes instead of the traditional "greens'', where different scenarios of air battles were played out and simulated, and then the software data from the game was transferred to the film. This allowed to achieve maximum realism and made Devyataev the first Russian picture that used this technology.

The plot is based on the confrontation of two views of former friends, one of whom goes over to the side of Nazi Germany, while the other, thanks to his conscience, remains faithful to the Soviet Union to the very end, knowing the risks and knowing that by one of the Soviet orders is already a "traitor to the Motherland".

Everyone has their own truth, and by showing this the film does not descend into pseudo-patriotism with categorically good Russians. Its characters cannot be divided into "good" and "bad", and I want to believe that Devyataev will become one of the films which will make the stamp of "warlordism", "parasitism" and the imposition of patriotism begin to disappear from our viewers' minds.
Last «Dear Bulgaria» (2021)

by Alexey Fedorchenko

By Ksenia Slasten
«Last «Dear Bulgaria» is a free interpretation of Mikhail Zoshchenko's long-suffering autobiographical novel Before Sunrise (1943), directed by Alexey Fedorchenko.

«Dear Bulgaria» in the title of the film is the name of a variety of apple which the protagonist Leonid Etz grew in Alma-Ata in 1943. Along the way, he investigates the disappearance of writer Semyon Kurochkin. Leonid finds his diaries and through them tries to understand what happened to the famous writer. At the same time, he tries to save the last seeds of a unique apple variety. The film is about Leonid and Semyon, a gripping detective story and a mosaic biography, a reflection on the nature of his depression and the oppression of an entire generation, which has been through a chain of upheavals: World War I, the Civil War, the Revolution and the Patriotic War. The director uses unusual ways of differentiating these two stories. The story set in Alma-Ata has vivid colours and regular frame composition. Semyon's line, since it's still a flashback, has much paler colours - but how freely the director handles the frame space there! We see the scene from three or more angles at once, which gives the action a certain decorative and theatrical quality. This technique loads the viewer, and at first, the eyes are diverted and can not assemble the picture into something whole, but then this vision captivates, especially because the "tension" skillfully alternates with the usual building blocks of Leonid's life.

The two lines of the film move in opposite directions. We don't just watch Leonid from his birth, we even know how his parents met. The story of his time in military Alma-Ata unfolds unhurriedly, sequentially. Leonid meets a director who is making a film about Ivan the Terrible (of course, there is a reference to Sergei Eisenstein behind this image). At one point, the film's reedy setting becomes the setting for Kurochkin's memories. It goes in the opposite direction. Though Leonid investigates the story of Semyon's 'disappearance', it is obvious that he is dead. The task of the protagonist is to understand how he died. In the course of reading the diaries, the question "how" turns into "why", because the diaries go in reverse order, and in the course of them the cause becomes the effect. In this way, Leonid understands the origins of Semyon's depression and learns new things about himself. And the viewer, comparing the two characters, draws a conclusion from "a study of melancholy, not only of Zoshchenko but of an entire generation of the intelligentsia of the time," as the director calls his film.

It should be noted that this film is the only one from Russia in the main programme of the MIFF. And it's good that our cinema is presented with a film of a level so high that one wants to revisit it in order to find new meanings and new facets.
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