niffiwan (niffiwan) wrote,

15th Open Russian Festival of Animated Film

The 15th Open Russian Festival of Animated Film took place a month ago. This is the main yearly event for Russian animation, a place where (in theory) ALL animated production from the country is gathered into one place for professional critique.

I haven't posted until now because I wanted to present a comprehensive "overview", so I waited to hear reactions as well as for some of the competing films to appear online.

First of all, an overview of all the prizes and audience ratings may be found at this Wikipedia article. The jury consisted of five well-known directors: Mikhail Aldashin, Vladlen Barbè, Ivan Maximov, Dmitriy Naumov and Mikhail Tumelya. They could be in the jury because they had no films of their own this year, which was the case for most of the well-known directors in animation. Recently the government has drastically cut support for all filmmaking (by about half) - in addition to that, they stopped giving funding to many projects that they had already agreed to pay for, so production either stopped midway through or animators worked for free (not unlike the early 1990s). Pilot Studio, which was a leader just a few short years ago, only had a few small films to present.

Nevertheless, there were some good films that stood out. The top two in the audience rating by a wide margin were Valentin Olshvang's Rain in the Evening, based on an original story in which an old fisherman finds a mermaid, and Natalya Malgina's A Transgression, based on a story by Chekhov. Both of these are extremely talented directors. Malgina earlier directed what I though was the best Russian animation from 2007, The Dog Door, while Olshvang's last film was About Crayfish, from 2003, which won the festival Grand Prix in that year. This new film of Olshvang's, only his third, was made by himself in his home without the help of a studio over the period of three years. He used a technique similar to Aleksandr Petrov's paint-on-glass, but with watercolours and pastels instead of oil paints and with extra layers added above the drawings.

The entire film has not been posted online, but a short clip can be seen here:

Malgina's excellent film "A Transgression" is about a genteel man who suddenly finds a baby on his doorstep, and his efforts to escape from his past. English subtitles have been added by the "Cyber Brothers" group which Malgina is part of. I highly recommend you download the film here and watch it: (this is the version that has English subtitles. Be quick; the link will expire soon...)

The film that won the Grand Prix was 6th in the audience rating. It is called "Winter", by Aleksey Alekseyev, and is part of his "Log Jam" series. To me, it seems similar to many popular Western Flash-animated web series that I've seen, but in Russia it is apparently something novel. According to Mikhail Tumelya, some of the jury's awards were given not to a film that anyone felt was the best, but to the one to which nobody objected, and this was also the case for the Grand Prix. This film is not online yet, but you can see some of the other films from the series here.

Rim Sharafutdinov's "August, the Month of Winds" (no relation to the well-known book by Vladislav Krapivin with that name) garnered no awards and was just 10th in the audience rating, but has been the most talked-about film after the festival, and seems to be attracting the most attention from the public. It's a huge film made almost entirely by one person from the remote republic of Bashkortostan. It was heavily criticized by Yuriy Norshteyn in the press conference. Many people were confused by the ending. This plot summary (courtesy of scarydoll) seems to make the most sense (read after watching the film): Three demon-buddhas are sitting with magic teeth. A blue gollum walks past and steals the teeth from one of the demons, then runs away. The demon-eagle cannot stand this; without his teeth he is not whole. From this moment, the cartoon begins. After various adventures (including body changes), the man/demon takes back his teeth from the gollum. He says farewell to the beautiful woman, apologizing for accidentally involving her in the events. Then he returns to his place, puts in his teeth and becomes an eagle again.

"A Trip to the Seaside" is a fairly low-key film that shared the "Best Direction" prize with Olshvang. It is very representative of a typical Russian train-journey.

The "Year Round" series won the Best Visuals prize. This series is by the same studio responsible for "Lullabies of the World".
A segment from it can be viewed here:

The "Best Student Film" prize was split between Dina Velikovskaya's beautiful "Bridge"... (wordless except for the writing in the snow at 3:25 which says "dad" - the film is about a girl whose parents have split up)

and Yekatirina Kolosovskaya's "Ballad About a Barber" (no subtitles)

"Best Interstitial Animation" was won by "Raskolnikov" from the series "The Story Could Have Ended Differently" by Toonbox studio. This studio is composed of mainly St. Petersburg-based animators who make darker, Flash-animated cartoons. This film below is a parody of Norshteyn's "Hedgehog in the Fog".

Julia Ruditskaya's "About a Catfish" won a Diploma "for cleanness and clearness"

Svetlana Razgulyayeva's "Listen to the Snow Melting", which won a Diploma in Best Student Film "for being touching"

Dmitriy Lazarev's "Harmonium" was fourth in the audience rating. It is a long film based on Daniil Kharms' poetry and stories, with all of their plotlines getting mixed up. Personally, I find it to be very weird. A series of vignettes. I think it assumes familiarity with the subject matter - a viewer who doesn't know anything beforehand will be completely lost. Though it's funny and moving in places, I think the art style is generally very ugly. (no subtitles in video)

Harmonium from Iv Remi on Vimeo.

Roman Kazakov's "Forbidden Cake" was fifth in the audience rating. Andrey Bakhurin (scarydoll) says that it was symptomatic of the difference between the films of students at VGIK (Gerasimov Institute of Cinematography) and GUKIT (St. Petersburg State University of Cinema and Television):

VGIK students are concerned with global themes, the fates of the world, and philosophy. Their films are thoughtful - that is, more akin to art, and it's a rare VGIK student who leaves Suzdal without a prize or at least a diploma.

The St. Petersburg students make funny and joyful cartoons and are left without prizes. In principle, this is logical.
But one wants to rewatch them.

No prize was given out for "Best Debut" because the jury felt that none of them were worthy. However, a number of people, including director Sergey Merinov, have said that this prize should have gone to Valeriy Kozhin's "Kvadraturin", which came 7th in the audience rating. The film has not yet been uploaded online.

Links to all available other films from the festival can be found here. I will just talk about a few films that have no dialogue (so don't need subtitles).

"Oblivion" ( profile) - a student film from VGIK, directed by Yelizaveta and Polina Manokhina. Excellent creation of atmosphere. An artist escapes to work into the sheltered life of the aristocracy, and comes back into a world that has left him behind. (I recommend watching this one full screen, because the image is a bit dark)

"About One Bird" by Olga Kudryavtseva. I think this has very interesting art direction and a fairly good rhythm, though it's possibly a bit too minimalist at times.

"Behind the Wall" by Anastasiya Kopylova. This is a pretty impressive film about the wall between "male" and "female" worlds. It combines live action and animation.

behind the wall from nastya kopylova on Vimeo.

"Legs" by N. Karzanova, another student film from VGIK. I didn't really understand

this one upon first viewing...

"Hello, Sister!" is one of those "simple cartoons" from St. Petersburg that is quite charming. The director is P.Nikiforova, who can be found on livejournal here. Though it's set to a song, you don't really need to understand the words:

Here is a long list of reactions, reviews and articles that I've been able to find online:

Many are from directors or film critics. Where possible, I will link to their profile. These are all in Russian, of course, but if you're really interested, you can use "Google Translate" to read them.

Natalya Berezovaya - ссылки на фильмы -еще несколько мультфильмов

Catherine Maximova Bim (Ivan Maximov's daughter)

Aleksandr Bubnov

Dina Goder (journalist)

Marina Leskova (currently working on the animated feature "Ritag)

Sergey Kapkov (author of the Encyclopedia of Domestic Animation)

Aleksey Kotyonochkin

Irina Litmanovich

Natalya Malgina (text) (text)

Andrey Bakhurin (on Newgrounds)

Sergey Merinov - ссылка на фильм "раскольников" - ссылка на фильм "та сторона, где ветер"

Mikhail Tumelya

Maria Yakushina -фильм "пуговка"

Articles: - хорошая статья - отрывок из фильма "со вечора дождик"
Tags: 2000s, aldashin, alekseyev, barbè, bisyarina, events, film festival, karzanova, kazakov, kolosovskaya, kopylova, kudryavtseva, lazarev, malgina, manokhina, maximov, naumov, nikiforova, olshvang, open russian festival of animated film, ponomaryov, razgulyayeva, ruditskaya, sharafutdinov, tumelya, velikovskaya, wordless

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