The 36th Moscow International Film Festival (MIFF, June 19-28), upstaged by an impending war epic in the Ukraine, took place in a city of rampant construction, filled with new immigrants from all over the former Soviet Union. Sometimes Moscow can seem like New York or Chicago, except for higher prices for anything but vodka and the subway.
But the challenges for those who make movies in Russia have no immediate parallel. The festival provided a microcosm of the struggles among Russian filmmakers today.
MIFF’s glittery opening in bling-heavy Moscow screened the hockey saga “Red Army” (fresh from Cannes), before which the festival director Nikita Mikhalkov declared through a translator that the West, which has imposed sanctions, will not starve Russia, and “will not make our films.”
For all the vitriol, West-envy was part of the festivities. Before and after Mikhalkov’s speech, students from the Moscow Film Institute, known by its acronym VGIK, performed song and dance numbers modeled after Oscar sequences. The warning here was “Next Stop Hollywood.”
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