Will London weep for Russian joy?

Truce by Svetlana Proskurina (image from kinopoisk.ru)
Several cutting-edge Russian dramas - the genre in which Russia has won a reputation for mastery - will be screened at this year's London Film Festival.

The annual two-week event will showcase a total of up to 200 features, including world and European premieres, as well as films that have recently won praise and recognition.

One of the most popular programs of the festival, Cinema Europe, will feature three Russian productions along with Danish, Spanish, Italian and German films, just to name a few.

One of the highlights is the first Russian production for Walt Disney Pictures, The Book of Masters, a big-budget blockbuster fairytale.

Quite far from a myth is My Joy, a co-production between Ukraine, Germany and the Netherlands, which was recently screened at the world’s most influential festival, Cannes.

As the film’s title suggests, it could be a comedy or a love story, however My Joy, from award-winning documentary director Sergey Loznitsa, is nothing to laugh at.

My Joy by Sergey Loznitsa (image from kinopoisk.ru)

It is a daunting, disturbing, realistic Russian road movie with an aura of horror and elements of suspense.

The film revolves around a truck driver who is off to deliver bags of flour in what promises to be just another journey along the Russian motorway. However, what starts as a routine trip quickly turns into a series of shocking, deadly accidents.

The reality described by the filmmaker seems to be so scary and so authentic that some critics have accused Loznitsa – who has been living in Germany since 2001 – of a biased attitude towards Russia and an auteur’s gloomy outlook.

The thoughtful film-maker, however likes to quote his favorite saying by Picasso, that art is not part of decorum, but “an instrument of attack.”

Another Russian drama about life and death on the London film fare is Silent Souls. Aleksey Fedorchenko’s film had its world premiere at this year’s Venice Film Festival, where it was given a warm welcome and hearty applause.

The movie tells the story of a man who has lost his wife and wants to bury her in the neighborhood where they once spent their honeymoon. The widower does not make his journey alone; he is accompanied by a photographer, to whom he cannot help telling stories about his family life in the past.

Truce, from the old-school female director Svetlana Proskurina, is set in the middle of nowhere, where a young Russian guy arrives and gets to learn real life, love and his self.

The drama picked up an award for best film at this year's festival of Russian film at Sochi.

The other award-wining Russian film tells the story of two people who come to grips with extreme conditions and personal psychological conflicts at a polar station in the Arctic Ocean.

Truce by Svetlana Proskurina (image from kinopoisk.ru)

“How I Ended This Summer” by Aleksey Popogrebsky received two Silver Bears at the Berlinale Film Festival earlier this year and will be screened in the Film of the Square strand.

Artistic Director Sandra Hebron described the variety of films featured in numerous programs of the London Film Festival as inspiring. “They're inspiring because of the subjects they tackle, inspiring because they're brilliantly made or beautiful to look at, inspiring because they take risks, inspiring because they ask questions, inspiring because they're angry or life-affirming. They make us love and value the art and craft of film – and what could be better than that?” Hebron wondered.

The festival, which runs from 13-28 October, also provides a sought-after opportunity to catch up with some of your favorite cast members and filmmakers, such as Darren Aronofsky or Javier Bardem, and ask them a question that has been bugging you during a Q&A session or a master-class.

Valeria Paikova, RT