by GREG KING
The 11th Russian Resurrection Film Festival is screening around Australia throughout October and November. It screens in Melbourne at ACMI cinemas from November 13 through until November 23. There are a number of Australian premier screenings. The opening night film is the epic Vasilisa, a love story set against the backdrop of the Napoleonic Wars. There are also a number of retrospective screenings to celebrate the 90th anniversary of Mosfilm Studios, including the Oscar winning Dersu Uzala and the 444 minute WWII epic Liberation.
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This is a love story set against the epic backdrop of the Napoleonic Wars. Vasilisa (played by Svetlana Hodchenkova) is the daughter of serfs who is in love with the dashing Ivan (played by Dmitry Solomkin, looking a little like a younger David Hemmings circa The Charge Of The Light Brigade), who comes from a wealthy family. When Ivan’s mother conspires to keep them apart, Vasilisa is forced into a marriage with a local farmer, while Ivan runs off to jojn the army. Then Napoleon’s army invades, and fate and war conspire to keep the lovers apart. While Ivan is off fighting the war, Vasilisa becomes the leader of a rag tag group of partisans. The film is a rousing old fashioned adventure, replete with some rousing, large scale action sequences, and full of passion, betrayal and acts of heroism. But the film also explores themes of class and prejudice in 19th century Russia. Director Anton Sivers stages the key action sequences with gusto. Vasilisa was originally made as a mini series for Russian television, and we are seeing a cut down version reedited for the cinema. It doesn’t dilute the spectacle, but it does give the film something of an episodic feel.
KITCHEN IN PARIS.
This is a very funny crowd pleasing comedy that offers a broad mix of romantic comedy with some slapstick humour, lots of mouth watering culinary treats, and a colourful cast of characters. The fashionable Claude Monet restaurant in Moscow is about to play host to a top level meeting between the President of Russia and the President of France. But things go disastrously wrong, resulting in the staff being exiled to Paris. There they plan to open a new restaurant to restore their tarnished reputation, only to find that they have been lumbered with a dilapidated old barge on the Seine. After fixing the boat and reopening their restaurant, they soon find success again. And then they are asked to again host another top level meeting between the two leaders. Will they manage to carry it off successfully this time around? There are plenty of subplots woven throughout the film and director Dmitry Dyachenko manages to juggle them all effectively. Somewhat surprisingly for a Russian film there are a couple of openly gay characters as well.