This year, Russia sent six films to the Cannes Film Festival, four in competition and two in non-competitive categories. And the filmmakers won three awards: the Grand Prize for the film “Hytti Nro. 6 ”by Juho Kuosmanen co-produced with Russia – shared with the film“ Ghahreman ”(Hero) by Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi; the Grand Prix of In some perspective section given to Kira Kovalenko for “Loosen Fists”; and the CST Award for Technical Artistry to Vladislav Opelyants for his work on “Petrov’s Flu” by Kirill Serebrennikov. The director of photography has already collaborated with Serebrennikov on his films “Summer” and “The Student”.
Cannes, the pandemic and Sebrennikov’s flu
In some ways, this year’s festival seemed to take place in a different time. “La Croisette”, the beach promenade in Cannes, was teeming with film festival stars without protective masks – much like the days before the pandemic.
But the pandemic was present at the festival – in fact, she appeared to be one of the stars of Kirill Serebrennikov’s film “Petrov’s Flu”. Petrov, 30, works as a mechanic by day and as a draftsman at night. It’s the end of the year and Petrov has the flu. He coughs in a bus and he falls into a delirium in a crowd where reality, visions and fantasies mingle. His wife, a librarian, is also ill, only her fantasies relate to sex and revenge. Petrov infects his son, who is about to attend the school’s New Year’s party, and remembers the party he also went to in the Soviet 1970s. This holiday remains in his memory with a flood of experiences on the past, present, death and life.
The films in the main competition, which take place at the “Lumière” cinema, are normally divided into day and night previews. Evening screenings are believed to be more desirable. The screening of Serebrennikov’s film took place during the day, but that did not prevent the audience from rushing into the cinema.
Serebrennikov has not been allowed to leave Russia since 2017 and he was unable to accompany his film to Cannes. On the red carpet, the film was presented by actors who performed key roles – Yuri Kolokolnikov, Chulpan Khamatova, Ivan Dorn, Yulia Peresild and Yura Borisov, as well as producer Ilya Stewart.
Ahead of the premiere, Roskino Managing Director Yevgenia Markova wrote on Instagram: “The only film made entirely in Russia in the main competition of the Cannes Film Festival. The show has started … Good luck. In a sense, however, Kirill Serebrennikov was still attending his own premiere. Members of the film crew walked up to the photographers wearing badges with a portrait of the director. These same props were seen on the artistic director of the festival. of Cannes Thierry Frémaux and the president of the festival Pierre Lescure.The public greeted the team with a standing ovation.
“Petrov’s Flu” is Kirill Serebrennikov’s first feature film since his release from house arrest. It plunges the viewer into an atmosphere of oppression, both physical and spiritual. Although it was filmed before the onset of the coronavirus, it captures the mood of a country in the midst of a pandemic and a nation caught in a collective ordeal. He explained his intentions to the international press on Zoom: “The film may seem metaphorical, but it has nothing to do with the pandemic. The plot is based on Alexei Salnikov’s novel titled ‘The Petrovs in and Around flu. ”Russian literature is known to be prophetic, often associated with the concepts of fate, absurdity and surrealism. Russians feel comfortable with this, and therefore the period of absurdity and madness that arrived in Russia with the pandemic was quite familiar to us. “
The film lasts almost two and a half hours. When the protagonists’ hallucinations became extremely chaotic, part of the audience started to leave. But most of the viewers stayed until the end. Opinions among international journalists were divided. To Tod MacCarthy (Deadline), the movie felt like “being physically assaulted in a dark alley, or having a load of trash stuck in your throat and piled on top of you until you didn’t.” can more ”. But Paolo Meregetti (Corriere della Sera) saw in the film “the charm of the Russian soul, with its melancholy and its passion, it is the dream and the will to compromise”.
Opelyants received the prize from the Higher Technical Commission of the festival “for his artistic talent in making us feel the feverish state of the characters”.
In a train, darkly
The winner of the Grand Prix “Hytti Nro 6” (Compartment n ° 6), directed by Juho Kuosmanen, is based somewhat on a novel of the same name by Rosa Liksom. A sensitive road movie about the journey of two restless souls through Russia. One is a Finnish lesbian student (Seidi Haarla) from the archeology faculty of Moscow State University, traveling to Murmansk to observe the drawings of primitive peoples preserved there. The other is a provincial construction worker and still drunk (Yury Borisov, who also starred in “Petrov’s Flu”). The two protagonists meet in the train compartment. At first, they are not happy to see each other. But as they cross the snowy desert, an invisible spiritual connection is born between them. To make this film, Kuosmanen traveled to another country, dived into an unfamiliar atmosphere, and made a film in an unfamiliar language. The Cannes Grand Prix is well deserved by him.
Kuosmanen was not a newcomer to the Cannes film festival. Audiences may remember her “Happiest Day in the Life of Ollie Mäki”, which won an award in In some perspective in 2016. For a Western viewer unaccustomed to lyrical digressions, this film may seem a bit abstract at first, but Russian audiences will recognize the characters and the circumstances in which they find themselves.
South of Moscow and the Caucasus
Kira Kovalenko’s film “Loosen your fists”, winner of the In some perspective category, is interested in the lives of people in the North Caucasus, in particular a young woman who appears to be under “house arrest” but tries to find a balance between her own life and the stifling affection of her father and her. his brother. “It’s a little intimate story,” Kovalenko said, “with a woman as the heroine. The main character could have been a man. The first version of my script was about three brothers. In the movies, I don’t pose social or political issues. I’m always interested in a person and their relationship to others. “
The Kovalenko Prize was the first Grand Prix brought back to Russia since 2008 in this category.
The Russian pavilion at the Cannes International Village has proven to be a very popular place. Far from the pandemic, meetings with filmmakers, public presentations and cocktails were regularly organized. The guests were served traditional blinis and sweets. Many international journalists were surprised to discover a new generation of Russian filmmakers and producers open to joint projects.
One of the main events of the Russian pavilion was the presentation of a new export initiative called Russian Content Worldwide (RCW), which aims to develop international cooperation, generate interest in the Russian content market and suggest filming locations. The success of such initiatives was demonstrated by the recent award ceremony, where the joint project “Hytti Nro 6” received the award.