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Tarkovsky film festival opens in Russia

Tarkovsky film festival opens in Russia
Still from The Tribe, Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy (2014)

10 June 2014
Text Samuel Crews

The birthplace of legendary Russian film director Andrei Tarkovsky will be welcoming filmmakers, critics and movie enthusiasts for the eighth edition of the Zerkalo International Andrei Tarkovsky Film Festival which opens today. This year’s main competition programme features a host of international films, including with winner of this year’s Cannes Critics’ Week, The Tribe (2014), directed by Ukrainian filmmaker Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy. Set in a boarding school for deaf students, Slaboshpytskiy shot his entire film in sign language without any subtitles.

Andrei Plakhov, the programme’s director and a film critic, acknowledged the festival as a celebration of Tarkovsky’s legacy, describing the auteur as “one of the few names in Russian cinema which lets the world recognise its national identity and peculiarities”. “Tarkovsky is an icon of cinema d’auteur, which is going through hard times, but which is preserved thanks to the talents and enthusiasm of the disciples of the great director,” he said. “For them he is a guiding star.”

This year’s festival also features a special programme of new Russian features, documentaries, shorts and video art with the latter marking a collaboration between the festival and the Moscow Museum of Modern Art. Hard to be a God, the last film made by the late Alexei German, a director who rose to prominence in the 1980s, will also be shown.

Documentary maker Vitaly Mansky, curator of the documentaries programme, has also selected nine films by women directors, four of which won prizes at the ArtDocFest Documentary Film Festival in December. Mansky said that the decision for the special programme reflected the growth in the number of female directors in Russia.

There will also be a special screening of Children 404, a documentary by the online campaigning group of the same name that brings together LGBT teenagers in defiance of Russia’s ‘gay propaganda’ law. In April, protesters attempted to close down a recent screening of the film in Moscow but ultimately failed.

A fresh tranche of artefacts from Tarkovsky’s personal archives, including letters and notebooks, will be exhibited again this year. The regional government purchased the archive for £1.3m at an auction at Sotheby’s at the end of 2012, bidding against the likes of Lars von Trier. The Zerkalo Film Festival will run until 15 June with screenings in Yuryevets, Plyos and Ivanono.