Wednesday, November 4, 2009

From Russia, with Love...

Sergey Solovyev, Director of Anna Karenina, and Tatyana Drubich, lead actress of the film. Present at the media launch held at the Samovar Room.

Today, I attended the media launch for the 2nd KinoArt Russian Film Festival, which runs in Toronto from Thursday, November 5th, until Sunday, November 8th, 2009. I enjoyed it a lot as the whole team of the festival was very professional, efficient and welcoming. It was most interesting to get to talk with Alla Ani Poliakova, the Festival Coordinator, or with Ingrid Hamilton, the PR lady, or Vitaly Gurevich, or again with Maria Vorobieva, from Ethnic Channels, who was covering the event. Most of all, I had this very pleasant feeling of sharing in the Russian wit and sparkling spirit- NB:I was the only one not to speak Russian, I therefore solely relied on the translator's assistance which she graciously provided for my eyes only. Very nice of her! After the official launch, and the Q&A, the discussion went on around a wide selection of croissants, and other fancy viennoiseries, not to mention the cups of delicious Russian champagne. Now, if you think that good food and good wine could influence my already very positive impression of the upcoming festival, you would be totally... right!
This year's selection of feature films, of short or documentary films has been chosen with care and offers a large panel of choice in genres and subjects. We were told that after a successful launch in 2007, KinoArt Festival is back and this year brings with it the massive premiere of Anna Karenina along with legendary Russian director Sergey Solovyev and actress Tatyana Drubich. Solovyev’s version of the Leo Tolstoy’s epic love story will turn heads and provoke cinematic debate.

The shooting of Anna Karenina took place at Tolstoy's house at Yasnaya Polyana, today a museum which includes his library of 22,000 volumes
If you are like me, an enthusiastic reader of Russian classic literature, you won't miss the great opportunity to see the Russian film adaptations of Tolstoy's Anna Karenina and Gogol's Taras Bulba.
I must confess (Shame on Me!) that I haven't read Anna Karenina, even though I did read other Tolstoy's books such as The Death of Ivan Ilyich and The Cossacks; I characteristically never felt the urge to read this iconic novel ( the best in the world, according to Nabokov), I could put the blame on the fact that I knew the plot too well as often quoted or referred to in the time of my literature studies...But there is no excuse, really! It is now time to make amends and bridge this gap of ignorance. I will go and see Anna Karenina Canadian Premiere tomorrow at The Isabel Bader Theatre, and promised, I will start reading the book right afterwards.
It is a very good thing, indeed, that Russian directors restake claim to their classic literature with North American Premieres of both Anna Karenina and Taras Bulba (which I read, pffew!). Of course, Western filmmakers have had their turns, but I am very curious to discover new & more culturally-authentic versions of these classics.
Poster of the 1962 film, directed by J.Lee Thompson. Loosely based on Gogol's novella.

Making its debut in Toronto is Taras Bulba, directed by renowned director Vladimir Bortko it is based on the book by Nikolai Gogol (called “one of the 10 greatest books of all time” by Ernest Hemingway). Famously embraced by Hollywood as a starring vehicle for the late Yul Brynner, it’s an enduringly controversial story about Ukraine's Cossack warriors and their campaign to defend their lands from the advancing Polish armies. I will definitely go and see that one too!
Scene from Taras Bulba directed by Vladimir Bortko. The film is currently widely discussed and has raised many a controversy.In Russia there are fears that it will exacerbate historical disagreements with Ukraine...

I will also certainly not miss the documentary on Kino. I am looking forward to being introduced to the music of Svetlana's (a Russian friend of mine) favourite Perestroika Rock band! Viktor Tsoi was her idol at the time.
Viktor Tsoi
Don't miss the Opening Night tomorrow:
Anna Karenina, directed by Sergey Solovyev

Gala Opening Night Screening
Thursday November 5, 2009
Isabel Bader Theatre, 93 Charles St., W.
Tickets available at the door night of screening:
$20, includes Reception following Screening
$10, for students/seniors

See you there!


Anonymous said...

I can still remember when Victor Tsoi died. It was 2 weeks before school started. On our first day of school we all came wearing black, even though we were supposed to wear white.

Anna Karenina is also a very emotional piece. It's often difficult to choose between life and love.

I do admit, us, Russians are too dramiatic:)

IrinaK said...

Christine, c'est Irina. Well... you published this more than a year ago, but I just read this post. If you ever plan to attend a similar event, please let me know. I'd delighted to join you and offer you absolutely unprofessional, but coming from my heart translation/interpreting/whatever you call it.

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