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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

Saturday, Nov. 1


The men and women who dedicate their lives to fitness get their chance to compete for the title of best body in Russia at todays Grand Prix Fitness House PRO, the nations premier bodybuilding competition. Not only will men and women be competing for thousands of dollars in prizes and a trip to represent their nation at Mr. Olympia but sporting goods and nutritional supplements will also be available for sale. Learn more about the culture of the Indian subcontinent during Diwali, the annual festival of lights that will be celebrated in St. Petersburg this weekend at the Culture Palace on Tambovskaya Ul. For 100 rubles ($2.40), festival-goers listen to Indian music, try on traditional Indian outfits and sample dishes highlighting the culinary diversity of the billion-plus people in the South Asian superpower.



Sunday, Nov. 2


Check out the latest video and interactive games at the Gaming Festival at the Mayakovsky Library ending today. Meet with the developers of the popular and learn more about their work, or learn how to play one of their creations with the opportunity to ask the creators themselves about the exact rules.



Monday, Nov. 3


Non-athletes can get feed their need for competition without breaking a sweat at the Rock-Paper-Scissors tournament this evening at the Cube Bar at Lomonosova 1. Referees will judge the validity of each matchup award points to winners while the citys elite fight for the chance to be called the best of the best. Those hoping to play must arrange a team beforehand and pay 200 rubles ($4.80) to enter.



Tuesday, Nov. 4


Attend the premiere of Canadian director Xavier Dolans latest film Mommy at the Avrora theater this evening. The fifth picture from the 25-year-old, it is the story of an unruly teenager but the most alluring (or unappealing) aspect is the way the film was shot: in a 1:1 format that is more reminiscent of Instagram videos than cinematic art. Tickets cost 400 rubles ($9.60) and snacks and drinks will be available.



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