August 26, 2015

In Short Film Festival, Sergey Selyanov’s Anniversary, and the Screening of “Motherland”

The Third Russian Festival of Short Films, In Short, that took place in Kaliningrad, Russia from August 21 to August 23 was a memorable event for many reasons, two of which I’d like to cover here. One was the 60th anniversary of producer Sergey Selyanov, the other the screening of Motherland, a film by Petr Buslov.

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Sergey Selyanov: The Birthday Boy Who Brought Them All Together

The name of producer Sergey Selyanov is tightly related to a plethora of Russian films of the past two decades. Now the man who is unquestionably on top of Russian cinema is celebrating his 60th birthday in Kaliningrad at the In Short Film Festival. It is no surprise that everybody who’s anybody—from Todorovsky to Buslov—who came to represent their films at the festival, came there to salute the most prominent figure in the field of Russian film production. The birthday boy himself was happy to accept birthday wishes and noted, among other things, that a third annual film festival calls for a celebration itself.

Motherland: A Film That Instills Debate

Motherland from director Petr Buslov was a film that facilitated heated debates after its initial screening. For one, this is the most promising candidate to be considered a cult classic of all the films produced in the past ten years. It boast the portrayals of several key notions simultaneously: the portrayal of several generations, the portrayal of the country they are fleeing, and the realistic portrayal of the haven they are seeking. The film depicts drastically different characters, including an aging oligarch, his rebellious daughter, a provincial truth seeker, young hooligans from the capital city, who live in India on the money from renting out their tiny apartments in Russia, and an enlightened drug dealer. Sooner or later, however, each one of them begins thinking and talking about their home—Russia. In a truly epic manner, the film addresses the question of why the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. The answers that the characters find are not easy to cope with. That was probably why producer Sergey Selyanov, when he was introducing the film, asked the viewers to take selfies before and after they watched it. Homeland has profoundly changed us, those who saw it.

The scene depicting a rave party at a beach and the transformation that takes place in the mind of one of the main characters, Makar form Novosibirsk, is truly comparable in how intensely it grips the viewer with the scene in Danny Boyle’s Trainspotting, when Mark Renton sinks into the floor to the soundtrack of Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day”.

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Author: Mikhail Moroshnikov