June 8, 2016

Reviews of Petersburg. A Selfie

The film Petersburg. A Selfie, which premiered on June 6 at the opening of the 27th Russian Kinotavr Film Festival, attracted a great deal of attention from the press.

Metro, June 8, 2016
The 27th kinotavr opened with the screening of Petersburg. A Selfie, a film by seven female directors, in which Avdotia Smirnova, Renata Litvinova, Anna Parmas, Oksana Bychkova, Aksinia Gog, Natalia Nazarova, and Natalia Kurdryashova profess their love for the city on the Neva in each of the seven mini stories.

Komsomolskaya pravda, June 7, 2016
Stas Tyrkin, a film critic: “Contemporary Russian cinema has been taken over by female personalities as if by storm. It is only fitting, then, that the producers of CTB Film Company have chosen seven renowned and novice (but highly acclaimed by professionals) female directors to make a series of mini stories, in Petersburg. A Selfie.”

Forbes, June 7, 2016
Veronica Bruni, a film critic: “I always enjoy watching anthology films. At the very least, it’s fun to guess the authors based on their unique filmmaking techniques, the sense of humor, or lack thereof. Petersburg. A Selfie is ultimately a humorous film, as if the ladies deliberately chose the ironic spirit of Teffi to juxtapose the seriousness of classical Petersburg writers. To quote Teffi herself, “Every day, the maiden who works at the bank, crosses Anichkov Bridge over the Fontanka, with a steady and deliberate pace.”

Spletnik, June 7, 2016
Spletnik attended the press conference with the creators of Petersburg. A Selfie.

Sergey Selyanov, the producer: “One thing should be clear to everyone here—there’s a plethora of talented female directors in Russian filmmaking. What happened? To quote Lev Gumilyov, ‘a cosmic ray illuminated and impassioned certain ethnic groups.’ In our case, the ray has impassioned women, in particular. I don’t know why the cosmic forces made such a sexist decision. We got nothing, and women got everything. Men feel humiliated and deprived (laughs).”

Izvestia, June 7, 2016
Anastasia Rogova: “The viewers also appreciated a new side of Mikhail Boyarsky, who appears in a comedic cameo. This is a first for such a renowned actor. By the way, it turns out that Anna Mikhalkova was so nervous in the presence of the star that she even considered turning the role down. Director Avdotia Smirnova persuaded her to reconsider—it would be unwise to let go of the chance to get in a shot of Russia’s most famous musketeer. A little birdie told me that Mr. Boyarsky was nervous himself, but you’d never tell from watching the two onscreen—the chemistry between the duo is beautiful.”

Moskovsky Komsomolets, June 7, 2016
Some might shudder at the very idea of a female anthology film. They might find it as offensive as making a film in which men were chosen based solely on their gender. But producer Sergey Selyanov won’t have any of this. “This is nonsense,” he says. “There is clearly a resurgence of many talented female directors. After all, Lev Gumilyov talked about a cosmic ray that impassioned certain ethnic groups. In this case, that ray has impassioned women. I could very well ask, why only women? What about us? Why are we being left out? Direction is not the only area where it is noticeable. Just two years ago, of the twenty-five applicants for the camera operator courses at the Institute of Cinematography, only eight were men. Women are now at the forefront, and we are happy to share the news with everyone.”

Life.ru, June 7, 2016
This year’s festival undoubtedly belongs to women. Both the opening and closing features, as well as five of the main competition films were directed by women. The red carpet was strangely reminiscent of a graduation ceremony of a philology department. When the crew of Petersburg. A Selfie was up on the podium, there was only one man among them.

Vedomosti, June 2, 2016
Dmitri Saveliev, a film critic: “The 27th Kinotavr Open Russian Film Festival will open on June 6 in Sochi with a premier screening of Petersburg. A Selfie. The film is an anthology of seven stories that take place in St. Petersburg, all directed by women: Avdotia Smirnova, Renata Litvinova, Oksana Bychkova, Aksinia Gog, Natalia Nazarova, Anna Parmas, and Natalia Kurdryashova. The closing feature of the festival is a lyrical comedy by Vera Storozheva For Rent with Inconveniences. A strong female-dominated opening and closing are no accident: a good third of the festival’s program features films created by women. While no news for Kinotavr itself, this year it reads almost like a gender manifesto.

HELLO, May 31, 2016
“There’s a popular belief that Petersburg is cold and unpleasant,” say the creators of Petersburg. A Selfie, Natalia Smirnova and Natalia Drozd. According to them, the new film will challenge that stereotype. To challenge it, they employed female voices, who through the lens of their relationships, their infatuations, their past and present, will tell their own stories about the city.

Cinemaplex, June 7, 2016
Sergey Selyanov: “We didn’t set out with a specific goal in mine. We intuitively knew from the very beginning what the film should be like and what characters would populate it. When we became comfortable with that realization, working became very easy. On the other hand, this isn’t your typical producer-driven project, when we have approved scripts assigned to directors and tell them what to do. We gave a great deal of creative freedom to each participant. There is rarely much commercial potential in such anthology films; its target audience are film festivals. Nevertheless, distributors have already expressed interest in this film, both in Russia and abroad. We showed them a few clips and trailers from the film and everybody loved them. While we didn’t set out to make a box-office hit—who knows, anything is possible.”