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Saturday
Dec302017

THE CLASS OF 2018: NEXT YEAR AT THE MOVIES

When Hollywood bean counters spin their 2017 analysis, the year will not end with the studio suits rolling on beds of cash. Relatively speaking, of course; as December winds down, US box office takings will be around US$12billion, down a ‘whopping’ 2.5% on the record setting 2016. So the question that the great movie minds of Los Angeles need to address is, “How do we make up the deficit, and then some?”

A glimpse at the 2018 studio slates suggests the answer is superheroes, sequels, remakes and cartoons. Big surprise. There is some visionary stuff in the mix, but the roster largely recalls the year gone by, when franchise entrants like Pirates of The Caribbean Dead Men Tell No Tales looked tired; star vehicles like The Mummy underperformed and reheated properties like Blade Runner failed to ignite. But let’s see what is on offer and keep our fingers-crossed…: 

8 ‘New’ Marvel Films: There is no escaping the Marvel movie tsunami; with one arriving on average every seven weeks, the comic book adventures of our favourite ageing heroes will be everywhere, all the time. Big Daddy is, of course, AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR (pictured, right), welcoming back sibling directors Joe and Anthony Russo (Captain America: Civil War, 2016). Also under the Disney/Marvel banner are Ryan Coogler’s BLACK PANTHER and Peyton Reed’s ANT MAN AND THE WASP. The last of the X-Men films produced by a pre-Disney consumed 20th Century Fox will arrive in the form of Josh Boone’s THE NEW MUTANTS and Simon Kinberg’s X-MEN: DARK PHOENIX. The most anticipated will be Fox’s DEADPOOL 2, with Atomic Blonde’s David Leitch at the helm after the unpleasant shunting of #1 director, Tim Miller. Sony Pictures have two left-field unknowns in the Marvel mix – Ruben Fleischer’s R-rated VENOM, starring Tom Hardy and Michelle Williams and the animated adventure SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE, from the filmmaking team of Peter Ramsey, Bob Persichetti, and Rodney Rothman.

The Next ‘A Star Wars Story' Film: Apparently, the set of SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY was a little…angsty. The directors hired for the job, Phil Lord and Chris Miller got the boot in mid-June, with only days left of principal photography; enter Hollywood journeyman Ron Howard to see it through (after recasting and four months of reshoots). Miller and Lord played nice in their press statements (“We're really proud of the work we did on the movie and we wish everybody the best,”) but the scoop is that the pair clashed badly with franchise overlord Kathleen Kennedy and veteran series scribe Lawrence Kasdan. Rumblings suggest some extra polish is still needed ahead of its worldwide premiere on May 23/24/25 (check local listings).   

Three Anticipated Animated Follow-ups: After an erratic start in the competitive but lucrative animation arena, Sony Pictures Animation are milking their sole cash-cow franchise again next year, with director Genndy Tartakovsky and star Adam Sandler returning for HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 3: SUMMER VACATION (pictured, right). Director Rich Moore and writer Phil Johnston, both hot off the Oscar-winning Zootopia, deliver fresh adventures for John C Reilly’s oafish charmer in RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET: WRECK-IT RALPH 2. Towering above all animated entrants will be Brad Bird’s INCREDIBLES 2, a sequel 14 years in the making that reportedly picks up at the very moment the 2004 blockbuster concluded – the appearance of The Underminer (voiced by Pixar regular, John Ratzenberger).

Horror Lives Again!: After the record-breaking box office delivered by It, the sequel-generating momentum of The Conjuring films and the headline-grabbing breakout of Get Out, the horror genre is hot again. Serious studio dollars are behind such 2018 films as Adam Robitel's INSIDIOUS: THE LAST KEY; Brian Taylor's MOM AND DAD, with Nicholas Cage and Selma Blair; Julius Onah's GOD PARTICLE, a continuation of the Cloverfield mythology; Jason Clarke and Helen Mirren in WINCHESTER, from Australian brothers Michael and Peter Spierig; and, Steven Soderbergh's iPhone-shot UNSANE, with Claire Foy and Juno Temple. John Krasinski directs himself and wife Emily Blunt in A QUIET PLACE (pictured, right); Sylvain White's explores the new urban myth in his chiller SLENDER MAN; and, Cispian Mill's British horror-comedy SLAUGHTERHOUSE RULEZ, reunites funny guys Nick Frost and Simon Pegg. Michael Myers returns in David Gordon Green's reworking of HALLOWEEN, with original leading lady Jamie Lee Curtis. And very high on every horror fans watchlist is Luca Guadagnino's remake of Dario Argento's 1977 classic SUSPIRIA, to star Chloë Grace Moretz, Dakota Johnson, Mia Goth, and Tilda Swinton.

Remakes/Relaunches/Rehashes: Showbusiness 101 teaches that it is easier and cheaper to repackage and relaunch a known brand than to start from scratch. In 2018, new spins on old favourites will come in the form of THE PREDATOR, directed by writer and co-star of John McTiernan’s 1987 original, Shane Black; Oscar-winner Alicia Vikander turning her Oscar cache into paycheque heft with Roar Uthaug’s TOMB RAIDER; Kingsman star Taryn Edgerton stepping into the tights as the star of a ‘gritty new take’ on ROBIN HOOD, from director Otto Bathurst; Lady Gaga filling the shoes worn by Janet Gaynor, Judy Garland and Barbra Streisand before her in director and co-star Bradley Cooper’s A STAR IS BORN (pictured right); the return of Lisbeth Sander, this time in the shape of Claire Foy, for Don’t Breathe director Fede Alvarez’s franchise relaunch THE GIRL IN THE SPIDER’S WEB; and, Gary Ross’ all-female heist caper OCEAN'S EIGHT, with Cate Blanchett, Sandra Bullock and Rhiannon toplining.

Sequelitis: Despite the underperformance of such ‘sure things’ as Alien: Covenant, Blade Runner 2049, XXX The Return of Xander Cage and Trainspotting 2, the studios will still cite 2017 hits like Logan, Guardians of The Galaxy Vol. 2 and The Fate of The Furious as reason enough for a slew of new sequels. In 2018, filmic déjà vu comes in the form of Christopher McQuarrie’s M:I 6 - MISSION IMPOSSIBLE; David Yate’s FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE CRIMES OF GRINDEWALD; Wes Ball’s MAZE RUNNER: THE DEATH CURE; Steven S. DeKnight’s PACIFIC RIM UPRISING, starring Star Wars’ John Boyega; the conclusion to E.L. James’ saucy trilogy, FIFTY SHADES FREED, from director James Foley; JURASSIC PARK FALLEN KINGDOM (pictured, right), with A Monster Calls’ JA Bayona stepping in for shunned helmer (but credited screenwriter) Colin Trevorrow; showman Rob Marshall’s sequel to the family favourite, MARY POPPINS RETURNS, starring Emily Blunt; and, because the universe was screaming out for another instalment of ‘Karaoke; The Movie’, director Ol Parker’s MAMMA MIA: HERE WE GO AGAIN.

A Breath of Fresh Air: If you are desperate for something that threatens a hint of original thought or freshness of vision, you have these to look forward to. Steven Spielberg's virtual-reality adventure READY PLAYER ONE; Jason Momoa and Amber Heard in James Wan’s AQUAMAN, the only DC Comics property set for a 2018 release; Reese Witherspoon and Oprah Winfrey in Ava DuVernay’s YA publishing phenom adaptation, A WRINKLE IN TIME; Jon Turteltaub’s giant shark thriller MEG, with Jason Statham; Jennifer Lawrence reteaming with her Hunger Games’ director Francis Lawrence for RED SPARROW (pictured, right); Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson’s vidgame-inspired monster movie RAMPAGE, from Brad Peyton; the Robert Rodriguez directed sci-fier ALITA BATTLE ANGEL, from a James Cameron script; Anne Hathaway, replacing an on-the-slide Amy Schumer, in Alethea Jones’ BARBIE; Wes Anderson’s latest stop-motion fable, ISLE OF DOGS; Rachel McAdams and Jason Bateman playing for big, broad laughs in GAME NIGHT; the Neil Armstrong biopic FIRST MAN, reteaming Ryan Gosling with his La La Land director Damian Chazelle; and, MORTAL ENGINES, director Christian Rivers effects extravaganza, based on an adapted screenplay by the Lord of The Rings team of Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and Phillippa Boyens.

Friday
Dec152017

SCREEN-SPACE’S BEST (& WORST) FILMS OF 2017

Not a list, per se, and certainly not anything more than one cranky, old, cross-eyed critic’s rambling opinion. But one can’t begrudge the editorial team here at Screen-Space (i.e., me) the opportunity to put into some perspective a year of relentless movie going. Check out these stats – at time of writing, 475 movies for a total of 810.6 hours at an average 9.5 movies a week (thanks, Letterboxd). So, with the Best of The Best broken into genres, let’s launch into the annual rummage through my increasingly foggy memory and muster our ‘Best Films of 2017’ parade….

BEST ACTION: Josh and Ben Safdie’s Good Time, starring Best Actor Oscar material Robert Pattinson, was more thriller than action, but it got the heart racing like few 2017 films. Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver seemed to have the top spot sewn up, until Charlize Theron’s brutal, brilliant ATOMIC BLONDE from director David Leitch upped the ante. The stairwell brawl is the best bout of bone-crunching action all year. Also in the mix were Doug Liman’s American Made and Peter Berg’s Patriot Day.

BEST HORROR: No horror film was as universally acclaimed as Jordan Peele’s GET OUT. Shaping as an unlikely but very real award season contender, it was scary as hell, but also smart, funny, stylish and perfectly timed to rattle Trump’s America. Quality horror was abundant in 2017 – consider Andy Muschietti’s blockbuster It; M Night Shyamalan’s triumphant comeback Split; Coralie Fargeat’s blood-soaked French shocker Revenge; Tyler MacIntyre’s high-school murder romp Tragedy Girls; and, David Lowery’s divisive but stunning A Ghost Story. And for the record, Darren Aronofsky’s Mother is…brilliant!

BEST TRUE STORY: Bending the rules a bit here, as Steven Spielberg's THE POST, with Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep doesn’t drop in Australia until early January. But we got an early peek, and it is Spielberg at his most assured and fluent, a soaring drama that reinforces the crucial role a free press plays in a vibrant democracy (topical, much?!) Apologies to James Franco’s The Disaster Artist, robbed of our Best True Story crown. Also high amongst the recreation pics are James Gray’s majestic The Lost City of Z and, oddly enough, two tennis stories – Janus Metz’s Borg vs. McEnroe and Emma Stone and Steve Carell in Battle of The Sexes, from directing duo Johnathon Dayton and Valerie Faris.

BEST SUPER HERO FILM: James Mangold’s Logan was Hugh Jackman’s Hamlet, and he should be all over the Best Actor categories, but isn’t. The biggest game changer of the year, and the best super hero film in ages, was Patty Jenkins’ thrilling and emotional WONDER WOMAN, starring the year’s biggest new star Gal Gadot. Taika Waititi’s Thor Ragnarok and James Gunn’s Guardians of The Galaxy Vol. 2 kept the genre buoyant; biggest surprise was Dean Israelite’s smarter-than-expected Power Rangers (Ed: our guilty pleasure of 2017).

BEST COMEDY: Hard to believe, but there’s not a single contender to challenge Michael Winterbottom’s A TRIP TO SPAIN for the Best Comedy crown. Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon reprise their roles as thinly veiled versions of themselves, this time going a little darker as the realities of ageing set in. Kudos to Audrey Plaza, who made the most of the flawed but occasionally funny Ingrid Goes West and The Little Hours. If only to fill a bit more space in this category, we’ll admit to not hating Dax Shephard’s Chips as much as everyone else did.

BEST DRAMA: Nicole Kidman had arguably her best year ever, on screens both small (Big Little Lies; China Girl Top of The Lake) and big, first with Garth Davis’ breakout smash Lion and then with Sofia Coppola’s The Beguiled (one of 2017’s great underrated works). Harry Dean Stanton’s final film, John Carroll Lynch’s Lucky, was the perfect farewell; the best teen film of the year was Ry Russo-Young’s existential mystery/coming-of-age drama, Before I Fall, starring a wonderful Zoey Deutch. We can’t split the year’s best drama vote, so it’s a tie – Sean Baker’s study of a family living on the fringe of American compassion, THE FLORIDA PROJECT, and Luca Guadagnino’s profoundly lovely and compassionate CALL ME BY YOUR NAME.

BEST AUSTRALIAN FILM: The kids are all right, at least as far as the local film sector is concerned. Best Australian film of the year was Jeffery Walker’s DANCE ACADEMY, a classic overcoming-the-odds drama that promised and delivered (not a boast many Aussie films can make in 2017). Other thoroughly energised, teen-themed winners included Neil Triffet’s Emo The Musical and Gregory Erdstein’s That’s Not Me (both of which will find appreciative audiences on home vid). The next wave of genre talents emerged in the form of Tristan Barr and Michael Godsen (the nerve-shredding, single-take illusion, Watch the Sunset) and Addison Heath (the bleak, beautiful The Viper’s Hex, co-directed by Jasmine Jakupi).

BEST NETFLIX FILM: If the most influential new production entity in the world is powerful enough to secure a slot at Cannes, it’s big enough to be given consideration on Screen-Space. It’s impossible to ignore such challenging works as Marti Noxon’s To The Bone, Dee Rees Mudbound, Chris Smith’s Jim & Andy, Noah Baumbach’s The Meyerowitz Stories (also Cannes endorsed), Ana Lily Amirpour’s The Bad Batch and Joon-ho Bong’s Okja. The new network's greatest triumph was Laurent Bouzereau’s FIVE CAME BACK, a 3 episode/180 minute documentary series in which present-day Hollywood visionaries Steven Spielberg, Guillermo del Toro, Lawrence Kasdan, Paul Greengrass and Francis Ford Coppola (with Meryl Streep providing narration) honour the wartime contributions of their industry forefathers, John Huston, John Ford, Frank Capra, William Wyler and George Stevens.

BEST DOCUMENTARY: No factual film came close to Nick Broomfield’s tragic profile WHITNEY CAN I BE ME for emotional impact, but Brad Abrahams’ alien abductee oddity Love and Saucers, Jedd and Todd Wilder’s heartbreaking mystery God Knows Where I Am and Roger Donaldson’s Formula 1 biopic McLaren were standout performers in limited/festival release. The weirdest, most wonderful insight into unique creativity was Mike Brook’s Something Quite Peculiar: The Life and Times of Steve Kilbey, a bittersweet profile of the enigmatic frontman of cult band The Church.

BEST FESTIVAL FILM: Of the many wonderful films that were afforded one, maybe two festival sessions before disappearing back into the sales market ether, Kamili Andini’s Bali-set study in grief and fantasy THE SEEN AND UNSEEN proved cinematic perfection. Other mini-masterpieces that need further screen exposure were Dmitrii Kalashnikov’s dash-cam marvel The Road Movie and Joshua J Provost’s study in art-form co-dependence, Coalesce: A City Composed.

BEST REWATCH: The bigscreen session of Steven Spielberg’s CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND post-4K digital restoration was a bucket list event, though it was only one of the great retro-sessions in 2017. A 70mm screening of Philip Kaufman’s The Right Stuff and co-hosting a Romero tribute double feature of Night of The Living Dead and Creepshow, both at the iconic Randwick Ritz in Sydney’s east, were rare privileges. Old favourites that still delighted and enthralled included Blake Edwards’ Victor/Victoria, Woody Allen’s Love and Death, Michael Apted’s Coalminer’s Daughter and Steve Barron’s Electric Dreams, a film that now seems 20 years ahead of its time.

And THE WORST FILM OF 2017: Look at this miserable, misguided parade of objectionable duds - The Dark Tower, Planetarium, Three Summers, The Cure For Wellness, Baywatch, The Circle, Snatched and Kingsman: The Golden Circle. That said, none of them really challenged the indecipherable serial killer snorefest THE SNOWMAN for sheer incompetence. Tomas Alfredson’s all-star, all-shite cast, including Michael Fassbender, Rebecca Ferguson, Charlotte Gainsbourg, JK Simmons and (oh dear) Val Kilmer, stare at each other in the hope somebody in frame will save the scene/film. Not even the likes of DOP Dion Beebe, editor Thelma Schoonmaker or EP Martin Scorsese…MARTIN SCORSESE!!...could polish this cinematic turd.

Monday
Nov272017

MONSTER FEST FETES FIERCE FEMMES AT CLOSING NIGHT KUDOS

The closing night awards ceremony at Monster Fest 2017 became a celebration of girl power in genre cinema, with all four feature film prize winners centred by fearless lead actress performances. The 2017 festival jury, comprised of screening platform OzFlix boss Ron Brown, Events Cinemas programmer Jon Nilsen and Screen-Space’s own Simon Foster, noted the roster of quality films to feature strong female characters in this years line-up, which wrapped a sell-out season at Melbourne’s Lido Cinema last night.

The festival’s top honour, The Golden Monster, was awarded to Stefan Ruzowitzky’s Cold Hell (Die Hölle), a German/Austrian co-production starring Violetta Schurawlow (pictured, above) as a witness to a brutal murder who finds herself being stalked by the killer. The Monster Fest trophy continues the high-energy thriller’s award momentum; the director accepted the Best European Film silverware at Lisbon’s MOTELx Festival Internacional de Cinema de Terror, while Schurawlow collected the Best Actress honour at the prestigious Fantasia Film Festival.

The festival’s closing night selection, Coralie Fargeat’s directorial debut Revenge, a brutal, blood-splattered survival epic starring Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz (pictured, right) as a vengeful rape victim and Kevin Janssens as her toxic male tormenter, collected the Best International Film prize. The judge’s decision came on the back of some spirited debate, with both Rainer Sanert’s monochromatic arthouse-horror oddity November, starring Rea Lest, and Adam MacDonald’s slow-burn black-magic thriller Pyewacket, with Nicole Munoz, in the mix until the final decision was handed down.

Best Australian Film went to the crowdpleasing horror-comedy Tarnation, featuring Daisy Masterman, a raucous riff on Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead pics from Monster Fest favourite Daniel Armstrong (MurderDrome, 2013; From Parts Unknown, 2015; Sheborg Massacre, 2016). Turkish director Can Evrenol, who burst onto the horror scene in 2015 with the cult shocker Baskin, took out the Best Director award for his follow-up film Housewife, an typically disturbing ‘end-of-days’ vision that melds Rosemary Baby-type paranoia with Lovecraftian imagery with a game lead turn by Clémentine Poidatz.

Beyond the allotted categories, the Monster Fest jury also feted Gary Doust’s Horror Movie: A Low Budget Nightmare with a Jury’s   Special Mention. The fly-on-a-wall account of the traumatic process director Craig Anderson went through to make his passion project, the low-budget splatterfest Red Christmas, was deemed to have captured the filmmaking spirit that drives so many of those who submit similar works to Monster Fest annually.

The extensive contribution of the short filmmaking community to the Monster Fest program was also acknowledged with plaudits going to Alberto Viavattene’s Birthday (Best Overall Short Film); Mia’kate Russell’s Liz Drives (Best Australian Short); Seamus Murphy’s Reunion (Best Victorian Short Film); and, Remi Weekes’ Tickle Monster (Best International Short Film).

 

Friday
Nov242017

GEORGIA ON EVERYONE'S MIND AFTER APSA TRIUMPH

Warwick Thornton’s brutal Aussie western Sweet Country kept up its award season momentum by taking out Best Film honours at tonight’s Asia Pacific Screen Awards (APSA), held at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre. But it was filmmaking minnow Georgia that won over the hearts and minds of the jurors and gathered attendees at the 11th annual celebration of filmmaking from region that this year comprised 42 nominated works from 25 countries.

Servicing a population of roughly 5 million occupying a mere 70,000 square kilometres, the Georgian film community stood proud, taking three of the event’s most prestigious prizes. The drama Dede (pictured, below), a tradition-defying love triangle set in the Caucasus Mountains from director Mariam Khachvani (pictured, above: centre), was chosen to represent the Asia Pacific film community before UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Committee as recipient of APSA Cultural Diversity Award; a special screening of the film will be held at UNESCO’s Paris headquarters on December 12. The young director, who shot her film in the UNESCO World Heritage province of Svaneti in her homeland, was clearly moved when she took to the stage; similar displays of genuine humility and unbridled glee were indicative of all the Georgian honorees.

The Best Actress trophy went to Nato Murvanidze (above, right) for her role in Scary Mother, the riveting first feature from 27 year-old auteur Ana Urushadze (above, left). The debutant director also received acknowledgement for her assured work with an APSA Jury Grand Prize, an honour that will sit alongside 2017 statuettes earned from Locarno, Mumbai and Sarajevo film festivals. A fourth in-development Georgian project, Vladimer Katcharav’s Nene, was selected to receive a US$25,000.00 grant as part of the 2017 Motion Picture Association (MPA) APSA Film Fund.

Read SCARY MOTHER: THE ANA URUSHADZE / NATO MURVANIDZE INTERVEW here. 

The mighty Russian film sector was the other award frontrunner, also nabbing three APSA trophies. These were Achievement in Directing, bestowed upon Andrey Zvyagintsev (an APSA favourite, with wins under his belt Leviathan and Elena) for his missing child drama, Loveless; the Cinematography honour, awarded to the duo Pyotr Duhovskoy and Timofey Lobov for Rustam Khamdamov’s monochromatic dreamscape The Bottomless Bag; and, a second Jury Grand Prize for actor Aleksandr Yatsenko’s performance in Boris Khlebnikov’s Arrhythmia.

Read our review of ARRHYTHMIA here.

Thornton’s Best Picture triumph establishes an APSA milestone, with the indigenous filmmaker the first director to have had two films take the top honour; his breakthrough hit Samson and Delilah won in 2009. The only other Antipodean work honoured was Annie Goldson’s New Zealand documentary Kim Dotcom: Caught in The Web, which earned a Special Mention in the Feature Documentary section; Feras Fayyad’s Last Men in Aleppo was deemed the front runner in that category.

India celebrated wins in two major categories, both for Amit Masurkar’s polling-booth black comedy Newton; leading man Rajkummar Rao won Best Actor, while Masurkar and co-writer Mayank Tewari took Best Screenplay honours. Other winners included Kamila Andini’s The Seen and Unseen (Indonesia) for Best Youth Feature; Anne Marie Fleming’s Window Horses: The Poetic Persian Epiphany of Rosie Ming (Iran, Canada) for Best Animated Feature. Iranian actor Navid Mohammadzadeh gave an entertaining acceptance speech in his native Fasi when called onstage to claim his Special Mention honour for his lead role in Vahid Jalilvand’s No Date, No Signature.

Read WINDOW HORSES: THE ANN MARIE FLEMING INTERVIEW here.

The two honorary awards were amongst the highlights of the slickly-staged show, hosted by Australian television identity Lee Lin Chin and actor David Wenham. The FIAPF Outstanding Achievement in the Asia Pacific honour was awarded to Filipino producer Bianca Balbuena (Beast, 2015; Singing in Graveyards, 2016), whose rousing speech was the best of the night (“May we never get tired of being storytellers because the world needs us now”). The APSA Young Cinema Award, a recognition of emerging Asia Pacific talent, went to Azerbaijani filmmaker Ilgar Najaf’s Pomegranate Orchard.

 

Monday
Nov062017

MARRIAGE DRAMA, SPACE RACE EPICS TAKE TOP HONOURS AT RUSSIAN FILM FEST

Boris Khlebnikov’s Arrhythmia was named The SCREEN-SPACE Best New Russian Film at the closing night of the 2017 Russian Resurrection Film Festival in Sydney last night. Also honoured with special jury mentions were Klim Shipenko’s Salyut 7 and Dimitry Kiselyov’s Spacewalkers (pictured, below), two audience favourites that revisited the glory days of the Soviet space program in grand filmmaking style.

Read our review of Arrhythmia here.

A contemporary take on the drifting commitment and strained emotions of a young Moscow couple, Arrhythmia (pictured, below) earned its leading man Aleksandr Yatsenko the Best Actor trophy at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival and recognition from events in Sochi, Sakhalin and Haifa ahead of its Australian festival run. Khlebnikov’s assured and moving film was the unanimous victor as judged by Limelight magazine’s Lynden Barber, Managing Editor of SBS Movies, Fiona Williams, and Screen-Space editor Simon Foster.   

High amongst the finalists vying for the top festival honour were two Holocaust-themed dramas, Andrei Konchalovsky’s Paradise and Pavel Chukhray’s Cold Tango; Karen Shakhnazarov’s highbrow literary adaptation Anna Karenina: Vronsky’s Story; and Valery Todorovsky’s The Bolshoi, the lavish dance drama that opened the 14th annual celebration of Russian cinema on October 26.

In choosing to break with tradition and give jury nods to the space epics, the judges cited a vast and ambitious scale rarely seen in international cinema, due largely to the costs of realising such immense visions. In praising Salyut 7 and Spacewalkers, the judges spoke of both films in the same breath as the American space race classics, The Right Stuff and Apollo 13, and deemed the quality of the work reflected the strong production and post-production infrastructure of the Russian industry.

The 14th annual Russian Resurrection Film Festival drew to a close after an eleven day run at the Event Cinema's George Street site, during which attendance levels were amongst the highest in the festival's history. The highly anticipated Closing Night film was a digitally restored print of Yakov Protazanov’s rarely-seen 1924 silent science-fiction classic Aelita, accompanied by a live score by the renowned Volotinsky Quartet.