The 30th Moscow film festival is over now and only one year remains to the 50th anniversary of the venue (the first one was held in 1959). So there’s not much time to solve old problems and to treat chronicle “diseases” of the forum that still pretends to be an A class.
Moscow festival is called to be worldly prestigious by … its organizers. This is done easily and willingly in numerous interviews and briefings. “The 30th Moscow festival is a serious breakthrough, a sign that we stand firmly on our feet, that we are alive and have the right to hold festivals of A class” stated Nikita Mikhalkov, the president of the Russian Union of Cinematography. Well, opinion by the press, guests and participants may differ from this point of view. The journalists asked the visiting stars Charlize Theron and Will Smith – who came to promote “Hancock” in Russia – what they knew about Moscow film festival. The stars avoided masterly from the direct answer and they expressed their admiration with Moscow and said about importance of the movie festivals in general.
Although in Soviet times our forum appalled the world public with its ideological pressing, yet it was appreciated in the home and foreign market. That time, competing at the festival were works by Fellini, Sabo, Fabri, Cramer, Rosi, Coppola, Keslevski, Zanussi. That festival revealed some inaccessible free world for soviet citizens, and they were willing to queue all night long trying to get a ticket.
Retrospective show of underestimated genius of “non-Hollywood” filming John Kassavetis was the best event of the 30th Moscow film festival. He was an innovator, spiritual father for Godard and Scorsese, Jarmush and Moretti. The audience also was interested in special programs gathering the works presented at previous large film festivals – that was retrospectives of Takeshi Kitano, Tsai Min-Lyan, Li Kanshen.
As for the competition, that is the air the film forum must take in, it remained aside as usual.
The competition, poor at the beginning and getting stronger by the final, has proved a trend that the audience was rather ignorant of it, which is practically impossible to happen in Cannes, Venice or Berlin where it is difficult to get even to show made for the press.
The jury, headed by the intellectual Liv Ullmann, did not find it too difficult to honor all the really deserving pictures. Margherita Buy was awarded the best actress prize. Richard Jenkins was called the best actor. A refined filming of the Flaubert’s novel “The Simple Heart” with beautiful playing by Sandrine Bonner got awarded a special prize. The Bulgarian film director Yavor Gardev was awarded for “Zift” – an ironical neo noir, a theatricalized play of “criminal pulp fiction” with a social-oriented context, as the action is placed in the 50’s last century in totalitarian Bulgaria.
An Iranian film “As Simple As That” by Reza Mira Karimi got the “Golden George”. That’s a story of a day from a housewife’s life. A quiet tragedy of disappearance of personality in the haze of everyday routine. A desperate and doomed for failure attempt of breaking through this haze. The story shot in minimalist-like sharp and exact manner.
A film festival is a complex structure with its own architectonics and forethought of all the elements. What hinders the Moscow film festival today from becoming a real A class venue like those in Cannes, Venice, Berlin, Karlovy Vary?
Hastily done preparations are one of the basic reasons for “imperfection” of the home festival. It’s impossible to cake a quality festival pie in two months – it anyway will get burnt somewhere, while the middle will stay underdone. The festival does not have a clear conception. What is it made for? For who is it intended? How well does the festival “territory” fit the Moscow space? What’s the specific character of Moscow festival? Such forums should be headed by creative enthusiasts that would think about it permanently and not in spasmodic intervals.
Of course, one may try to explain the criticism with malevolence by journalists and wait quietly when next spring another closed tender will be held for carrying out the next - the jubilee - festival. Although with some delay, but anyway the allotted budget money will come, and the next festival will be held somehow.
However, all that looks to be too wasteful and a bad taste of disappointment remains after each Moscow festival. Reputation is made not with jubilee celebrations, but with long painstaking work. It is made not with momentary achievements, but with a dare to be on the road to improve it.