Saturday, January 16, 2010
Four shorts by young Russian filmmakers premier in NYC -- then head for Sundance
A presentation of CEC ArtsLink (the filmmakers' visit is being hosted jointly by CEC ArtsLink and the Sundance Film Festival), this four-film screening will also offer a Q&A with the filmmakers after their work has screened. (The entire running time of the four films is 73 minutes, and if the Q&A's last a quarter-hour each, figure this as an approximately two-hour-long program.)
Link, according t its press release, is to create constructive relation-
ships in the arts between the United States and Eastern and Central Europe, Russia, Central Asia and the Caucasus. Working with artists, arts organizations and community-based groups, CEC ArtsLink provides an essential structure for ongoing dialogue.
Now to the films: Three of them last around 20 minutes and the fourth runs only eight. All are worth seeing and each shows distinct possibilities for a filmic future for its creator. The most "complete" of the four, I would say, is THE BOSS (a still from which is shown above), written and directed by Yuri Bykov. Beautifully filmed in crisp, rich black-and-white, Bykov offer what initially looks like a Funny Games spin-off -- but with the power placed a little differently. At the film's beginning, we watch what looks like a typically happy, middle-class nuclear family, with dad and son playing soccer in the backyard and mom sweetly nattering about being careful. By the end, our perceptions -- not to mention our allegiance -- has shifted noticeably. In a very short time, Bykov has given us one of the tightest and most disturbing looks at modern Russia and its power structure that I have seen.
fashioned manner, and it works like a charm. By the finale, it's clear that the "boys" here, young and old alike, will always love mom.
Alisa Khmelnitskaya, is actually the best of the bunch: swift, smart, funny and real, as its shows us the conversation on a park bench along a large boulevard between a depressed older woman and an energetic young girl. They're both waiting for their guys, late as usual, to show up, and their varied responses to the situation and to each other speak volumes. The war between men and women has seldom been seen to such smart effect. Before it's over, this short film offers surprise, change, humor, feeling -- even wisdom.
Headless Woman moment. Then the Furies arrive in the form of sexy twins (shown above, with our "hero") and finally an ironic surprise. It's all here, but somehow it seems an awfully lot like standard movie-making that uses "experimental" tricks we've now seen time and again to tell a tired tale of personal failure.
But, as I say, it looks good.
If you want to see these films, Tribeca Cinemas, Thursday, January 21 at 7:30 pm would seem to be your best -- maybe only -- bet. But as seats are filling up quickly, I am told, you will need to RSVP to Anna Kadysheva-Yong (email address: firstname.lastname@example.org).