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Two Russian Films to Be Shown at MIFF

By Ellen Corey

Ken Eisen and the staff of the Maine International Film Festival (MIFF) gave their enthusiastic support to the Kotlas Connection's request to include contemporary Russian-language films in the July 2010 festival in recognition of twenty years of sister city ties between Waterville and Kotlas. MIFF will show two films by highly regarded directors.

Alexandra (2007) was directed by Alexander Sokurov. A grandmother, played by renowned opera soprano Galina Vishnevskaya, visits her soldier grandson who is stationed in Chechnya. Sokurov's oft-repeated central theme of family relationships continues as a backdrop to the film's various commentaries on the war in Chechnya.

A Room and a Half (2010) was directed by Andrei Khrzhanovsky. Subtitled "A Sentimental Journey to the Motherland," this film creates the fictional return to Russia of the Nobel Laureate poet Joseph Brodsky, who emigrated to the West in 1972 and died in the U.S. in 1996 at age 55, never having actually returned to his native St. Petersburg. Using a collage of archival photos, reenactments and animation, the film's three Brodskies the child, the young man, and the adult poet narrate his life in Russia and in exile. He relives the siege of Leningrad, the Stalin years, Soviet anti-Semitism, his years as a dissident, and his eventual exile during the Khruschev years. The film is a highly stylized review of 20th-century Russian history.

Alexandra will show Saturday, July 17, at 3:15 p.m. and Sunday, July 18, at 12:30 p.m.. Both showings will be at Railroad Square Cinema. A Room and a Half will show Tuesday, July 13, at 09:10 p.m. at Railroad Square Cinema, and Sunday, July 18, at 3:15 p.m. at the Waterville Opera House. Tickets to any showing cost $9 and can be purchased in advance on the MIFF website or at the door. The Kotlas Connection will host a reception with Russian finger foods in the lobby of Railroad Square Cinema after on Saturday, July 17, immediately following the 3:15 p.m. showing of Alexandra.

We are grateful to Marden's and to Carl Daiker and Phil Gonyar for sponsoring these two films.