Maria Muskevich, director and producer, on her way to the Warsaw International Film Festival for the European premiere of the film ”Putin Forever” (director Kirill Nenashev) – the first lines of the film’s synopsis: … ” The day before Vladimir Putin’s presidential inauguration, on 6 May 2012, a protest march took place in Moscow’s Bolotnaya Square opposite the Kremlin, demanding Putin’s resignation and honest elections in Russia. This peaceful march was brutally dispersed by the police special forces…” – talked about the film club movement in Russia. 20-30 clubs are active, not a lot in a huge country like Russia but the clubs are to be seen as tools to combine an audience and the makers. Muskevich and the Documentary Guild are looking for ways to better and enlarge the network.
Which brings us to the fact that 250 documentaries are every year supported by the Russian Ministry of Culture but a very small percentage of these reaches an audience… Critic, sales agent, teacher (Antipode Sales & Distribution) Anton Mazurov was very hard in his evaluation of the situation for Russian documentaries. He talked about ”corruption, nepotism, ideological tumors” in the
system around the Ministry of Culture support, ”nobody needs docs”, ”we don’t have money and we have brains that are sick”.
Nevertheless his company Antipode, that sells and distributes documentary films in the West – and feature films – have strong, what he called ”protest rebel” films. He showed clips from the award-winning ”My friend Boris Nemtsov”, ”Act and Punishment” (Pussy Riot), ”Grozny Blues” and the above mentioned ”Putin Forever” – all those films we see at Western European documentary festivals.
The intervention of Mazurov brought forward a lot of reactions, it seemed like many agreed with him on the lack of structure – why support 250 documentaries if there is no thoughts or plans on how to get them to the audience?
IF the atmosphere in the hall on this first day of the conference was a bit depressed after Mazurov, it all changed when Swedish producer Stina Gardell took the floor and with her charisma and enthusiasm gave us the story about how she got ”Ingrid Bergman In Her Own Words” to become a cinema box office hit in Sweden with 200.000 tickets sold. ”You think it just comes like this”, she said referring to the hard work she did to 1) remind the Swedes about who Ingrid Bergman was, she was about to be forgotten… 2) to launch the film in Cannes… A fairy tale, yes, but she managed to get the actress on stamps, she created interest within the Cannes festival and she did so together with Isabella Rossellini, the daughter of Ingrid and Roberto R., Isabella, who wanted a film to be done and had approached critic and director Stig Björkman to hear if he could and would. He then came to Gardell, who did a marvellous work. For those of you who have seen the film – it IS ”in her own words” based on her diaries and her films and photos and clips from her films as an actress. Ingrid Bergman ended up on the posters of the Cannes Film Festival 2015, a tribute to the actress 100 years after her birth.
Stina Gardell was the star of the first day of the conference, see the photo with her and Bergman and Bogart on the big screen. Gardell wanted the film to go into cinemas and she succeeded.
More reports will follow, next one on the strong female speakers Cecilie Bolvinkel, Maja Lindquist and Irina Shatalova.