Russian Film Week expands

New York showcase will run online nationwide

by Amber Wilkinson

The Whaler Boy
The Whaler Boy
The Russian Film Week in New York is expanding this year, with an online edition opening up the line-up to viewers across the US. The festival runs from January 23 to 29 and the first batch of titles has been announced.

The Russian Film Week USA is founded by New York-based arts non-profit the Cherry Orchard Festival, a producer of international theatrical, classical music and educational programming, and Russia’s Rock Studio Films, which also organises the Message to Man International Documentary Film festival in St. Petersburg and the Russian Film Week in London. Its mission is to promote global cultural activity.

Among the films screening are Venice Days winner, coming-of-age tale The Whaler Boy, which will close the festival, and Black Nights FIPRESCI winner Sententia. It will open with Tsoy, directed by Alexey Uchitel.

Cherry Orchard Festival founders Maria Shclover and Irina Shabshis said: “There is nothing like premiering a brand new Russian film in a packed theatre with the director present for a dialogue with the local audience. But the silver lining of our Covid pivot to an online format is that viewers from all over the US are able to watch the film and exchange ideas with filmmakers in live online Q&As."

Rock Studio Films founder Alexey Uchitel added: “Many of the features are inspired by real-life events or people that have shaped Russia these last decades, whether it’s sports, music, literature or terrorism. It’s been a year of great uncertainty, so we’re very proud of this initial collection of works that premiered as Russia navigated its lockdown. And it's especially exciting to roll out the red carpet for them to the entire US."

Line-up:

  • Deeper! by Mikhail Segal - a young director brings arthouse methods to an adult film production.
  • Doctor Lisa by Oksana Karas - feature about a real-life doctor caring for Moscow’s most vulnerable.
  • Goodbye America by Sarik Andreasyan - comedy sees Russian immigrants in the US look differently at Mother Russia.
  • In Deep Sleep by Marina Ignatenko - a fisherman finds his hometown shut down in a deep sleep.
  • Mara (Side Effects) by Alexey Kazakov - orror film about healer Mara erasing the trauma of a home invasion.
  • Sententia by Dmitriy Rudakov - a dramatisation of the end of Russian poet and Gulag survivor Varlam Shalamov's life.
  • Streltsov by Ilya Uchitel. A sports drama about Soviet-era soccer star fighting to save his reputation.
  • Tsoy by Alexey Uchitel (opening night) - reimagining the aftermath of rock star Viktor Tsoy’s death in Soviet-era Latvia.
  • The Whaler Boy by Philip Yuriev - an indigenous teenager discovers a world far beyond his whaling community.
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