For artist freedom and neutrality: why Kinotavr Grand Prix was awarded to Khomeriki

At the opening ceremony of “Kinotavr” the chairman of the jury Chulpan Khamatova joked, promising to “jury” the films as subjectively as possible. “After the results of the show were announced last Saturday, it turned out that it was not a joke. The results of” Kinotavr “were impossible to predict, even if well, I really wanted to.

The Grand Prix of the festival was taken by Nikolai Khomerika’s romantic meditative film “The Sea Worries Times”. The film tells about two young people, performed by Olga Bodrova and Valery Stepanov, who decide to settle in an old dacha and live together. Living together turns out to be more difficult than they thought, and the first love is tested by everyday life. Once they meet a mature couple on a neighboring site, played by Yulia Aug and Andrei Smolyakov, and understand that they have a lot in common with her.

Shot from the movie “The sea worries once”

© Press service of the “Kinotavr” festival

In the film, practically nothing happens, even the conflicts of young people can be called conflicts with a very big stretch. Khomeriki’s painting is “painted in watercolors” – completely ephemeral, light, almost elusive, like a piece from a life in which nothing happens.

He captures the passage of time – except for him, nothing changes in the film. Khomeriki clearly made the film for himself, it’s like a director’s whim, practically video art with no beginning or end. In his outlook, he resembles Apichatpong Weerasetakul, who is interested not so much in the traditional structure of the film with characters and plot, as in the phenomenon that he studies. Before the screening, Khomeriki even advised viewers to “turn off” their head to make it easier to perceive the film. Not everyone managed to do this – at least half of the audience left the session.

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The Kinotavr program this year was replete with radical statements on the topic of Russian reality – be it destructive family relations, as in Viktor Ryzhakov’s Day of Death or Kirill Sokolov’s Tear and Throw Out; lawlessness and struggle with the system, as in “Associates” Evgeny Grigoriev and “Dormitory” Roman Vasyanov; clash of two cultures in “Nuuchcha” Vladimir Munkuev and At Close Distance by Grigory Dobrygin; the desire to escape from the stuffy and poor world in “Gerda” by Natalia Kudryashova or “Milk of a Bird” by Evgeny Maryan; criticism of the system in “Captain Volkonogov escaped” Natalia Merkulova and Alexey Chupov. The works were tough and mostly pessimistic – directors savoring various kinds of horrors at the end of the festival became very difficult to endure. Films in which no one was killed or raped can be counted on the fingers of one hand. This is a beautiful picture “Danube” by Lyubov Mulmenko about an unsuccessful attempt to live a different life and the same film by Khomeriki.

Still from the film

Shot from the movie “The sea worries once”

© Press service of the “Kinotavr” festival

As the president of the festival, Alexander Rodnyansky, wrote on his Instagram, some considered “The sea worries once” “amorphous, boring and as far from reality as possible.” On the one hand, we can say that the jury was more important not relevance, but the experiment of a free artist, on the other hand, this choice was the safest. If the choice of Pong Chung Ho and his colleagues at the Venice Festival, which took place two weeks ago, became partly political (the film about abortion “The Event” by Audrey Divan won), the jury of “Kinotavr” decided to remain neutral. There is only one thing in common in these decisions – the main prize of the festival is unlikely to help these works gain popularity among the audience. In the case of Khomeriki, it can even harm – people will go to watch the winner of “Kinotavr” and have high expectations, and will receive a plotless elegy for two hours.

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The film, which, perhaps, everyone liked, is the Yakut “Nuuchcha” by Vladimir Munkuev, who received a prize for directing. Another favorite of the festival audience (he was probably applauded more and longer than all other competitive films) – “Captain Volkonogov escaped” about the terrible 1937 and the road to forgiveness – received a consolation prize for the best script. Rodnyansky even called it “disappointing.” There were six debutants in the competition, and most of them the jury liked the operator of “Hipster” and “Suicide Squad” Roman Vasyanov and his neat film adaptation of “Dormitory” by Alexei Ivanov. Another debut – an acute social drama with elements of magical realism “Gerda” by Natalia Kudryashova received a special mention from the jury with the strange wording “For inspiration and tenderness of madness.”

Nikolay Zheludovich became the best cinematographer for his work on the film “Bird’s Milk” about how awful life is in Transnistria, and the award for the best music was awarded to Alexei Retinsky for “Medea”. The best actress was Olga Bodrova for her role in “The Sea Worries Once”, and the actor – Pavel Derevyanko, who played the charismatic thief in law in the movie “Accomplice.” Yura Borisov, who has played in five films of the festival this year, including “Accomplice”, apparently did not impress the jury enough. Meanwhile, the young actor, having arrived from Sochi, managed to pretend to be Viktor Pelevin and hold a meeting with readers. Chulpan Khamatova at the closing ceremony reassured those participants who did not receive anything, noting that this does not mean anything. Maybe so.

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