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Brad Pitt’s zombie epic ‘World War Z’ to kick off Moscow film fest

‘World War Z,’ the most expensive zombie movie ever made, is set to open the 35th Moscow International Film Festival. The film’s star and producer – Hollywood leading light Brad Pitt – is also in town to present his horror extravaganza in the flesh.

Directed by Marc Forster, who also helmed the James Bond film ‘Quantum of Solace,’ World War Z is based on the apocalyptic horror novel of the same name by Max Brooks. In the movie adaptation, Pitt plays a retired UN inspector who is called back to service during the outbreak of a zombie pandemic.

Adapting the book turned into a real headache for Pitt, who reportedly went through four writers and a reshoot of the movie’s ending, swelling the budget from $125 million to $200 million and delaying the original release date by six months, according to Vanity Fair.

But big-budget Hollywood blockbusters are not the only priority at the Moscow International Film festival: Renowned Iranian filmmaker and human rights activist Mohsen Makhmalbaf will be heading the jury.

The London-based director made his name as the creator of a drama set in Afghanistan’s Kandahar during the rule of the Taliban. In Moscow, Makhmalbaf will present his latest documentary, ‘The Gardener,’ set in the newly-recognized UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Haifa and Western Galilee, Israel. The movie is the first time in decades an Iranian director has filmed a movie in Israel.

The Moscow International Film Festival is one of the oldest in the world. The first was held 1935, and its jury was headed by Sergei Eisenstein, the creator of ‘Battleship Potemkin.’ The official chronology of the MMKF began in 1959, when it became a regular event.

The Gardener (image from http://www.thegardenerfilm.com)

Sixteen movies from the Netherlands, Poland, Italy, Spain, Turkey, Switzerland, Japan, Georgia, France, Serbia, Germany, Hungary, South Korea, Brazil, the UK and Russia – which boasts three films in the competition – will be in the running for the festival’s top award, the Golden St George. 

the Particle (image from http://www.moscowfilmfestival.ru)

The highlights include the award-winning Turkish drama ‘The Particle,’ which looks at the social and feminist issues facing a woman who barely makes ends meet, sharing a tiny apartment with her old mother and disabled daughter in Istanbul. After she is unjustly fired, facing pressure from her landlord for rent money, Zeynep has to move out of town, where finding an ordinary job is next to impossible.

A range of must-see films will also be on offer for the festival’s numerous parallel programs. Over 350 movies, including documentaries, dramas and comedies, will be screened in the next 10 days in more than 15 strands, including rare retrospectives by Bernardo Bertolucci and Costa Gavras.

The festival will run in several Moscow cinemas through June 29.