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Film Festival Focuses on Hidden Truth

Published: September 18, 2013 (Issue # 1778)



  • The film festival will showcase over 100 films, including The Act of Killing, which focuses on the 1960s genocide of Indonesias ethnic Chinese minority.
    Photo: For SPT

The Soviets never cared much for documentaries. Anything that challenged the carefully constructed, ideological foundations of the socialist state was seen as dangerous. Few such films, even during the thaw of the 1980s when documentaries began playing a larger role in the Russian film industry, made it past censors and into theaters. In a carefully managed reality, its easier to keep things to a simple matter of black and white. This is never true though; life, after all, is Technicolor.

Every year, the Message to Man Film Festival, Russias only documentary film festival, demonstrates that the human experience is far more complicated than what it may seem from a perfunctory glance. 2013 marks the 23rd edition of the festival since it began in 1989, in what was still Leningrad, and when parts of the films were muted because of perceived subversive content.

Beginning on Sept. 21 and running until Sept. 28, Message to Man will screen 233 films from 37 different countries in theaters throughout the city. As is the tradition, ticket prices for all showings range from a mere 50 rubles ($1.54) to an affordable 100 rubles ($3.08).

The program includes an international competition featuring 54 films divided into three categories: Feature-length documentaries, short documentaries as well as animated films. A domestic competition will present films either made in the Russian Federation or bearing a National Film certificate and will feature English subtitles for non-Russian speaking viewers.

Other portions of the lineup include the In Silico International Competition of Experimental Films as well as the Docville Theater Program, a series of theatrical performances incorporating film or video that challenge existing conventions of what defines a genre.

More than 100 films will be given their Russian premiere at the festival, including four world premieres, along with 19 special screenings, musical performances, exhibitions, meetings and various workshops featuring directors and producers.

This year also marks the first time that selected films from the program will be screened simultaneously at a sister festival in Moscow. While the main festival will last a week in the northern capital, Moscow will only have three days, Sept. 23-25, to share the experience.

Alongside the iconic festivals held in Cannes, Berlin, and Venice, Message to Man ranks as a Class A festival for documentary films. Under the direction of Alexei Uchitel, the Russian filmmaker who has acted as president of the festival since 2010, the event continues to expand from year to year and has become an anticipated event on the St. Petersburg cultural calendar.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Wednesday, Aug. 20


AmCham gets back to business after a summer hiatus with todays EHS Committee Working Group Meeting. Check their website for more details.



Thursday, Aug. 21


Time is running out to see the fantastic creations on display at the 2014 Sand Castle Festival on the beach at the Peter and Paul Fortress. Adhering to the theme of Treasure Island, visitors can wander amongst larger-than-life interpretations of pirate life or attend one of the workshops held to educate a future generation of sand artists. The castles will remain on the beach until Aug. 31.



Friday, Aug. 22


Get ready to pledge allegiance to the flag during National Flag Day, paying tribute to when, 23 years ago today, the iconic hammer-and-sickle was replaced with the tricolor that now flutters in the wind. Petersburgers will be treated to a free concert on Palace Square, a military parade and a culminating air show featuring Russias Russian Knights stunt pilots.



Saturday, Aug. 23


Uppsala Park plays host to Fairy Noon today, a performance of five separate fairy tales ranging from folk classics to more haunting selections. There will be three different renditions of the tales throughout the day and tickets start at 500 rubles ($13.80) for adults and 300 rubles ($8.30) for children.


Classic Finnish cartoon characters the Moomins expect to receive a warm welcome from Russian fans during todays Moomin Festival at the Pearl Plaza Shopping Center at 51 Petergofskoye Shosse. Become a kid again or introduce a new generation to the beloved creation of Finnish writer Tove Jansson.



Sunday, Aug. 24


The tortured genius of Dutch master Vincent van Gogh gets his day in the centers Konnushnaya Ploschad during Make Art Like Van Gogh, a daylong celebration of the artist that will allow amateur artists to try and replicate the work that made the famed painter world-renowned.


Experience a variety of dances highlighting the diversity of the world around as at the final day of the Ethno-Dance International Dance Festival that has been at the St. Petersburg Humanitarian University of Trade Unions this past week. Tonights performance will feature Egyptian dancers accompanied by local orchestras.



Monday, Aug. 25


Today kicks off the Elena Obraztsovoy International Competition for Young Vocalists in the large hall of the Shostakovich Philharmonic. Talented youngsters will showcase their range over the next six days before a winner is chosen on Aug. 30.



Tuesday, Aug. 26


Love movies but hate all those words? Then check out Rodina Cinema Centers Factor of Consensus film forum this evening. Silent movie classics from the beginning of the 20th century will be screened and accompanied by a pianist, who will provide the soundtrack for the ongoing action. The screenings begin at 7 p.m. Check Rodinas website for more details.



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