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Afghan Escape Film Kandahar Pulls in Crowds

Published: February 9, 2010 (Issue # 1546)



  • The Russian crew members facing their captors soon after their arrival in Taliban-controlled Kandahar, Afghanistan.
    Photo: For The St. Petersburg Times

  • Captain Sharpatov (Alexander Baluyev) after several months in captivity.
    Photo: For The St. Petersburg Times

Kandahar, a new blockbuster that looks at an almost forgotten escape from captivity in the heart of Afghanistan, is packing in crowds at cinemas all over the country.

The film, which stars a trio of the countrys most famous actors, Vladimir Mashkov, Andrei Panin and Alexander Baluyev,is based on the true story of seven Russian Il-76 pilots who were captured by the Taliban in August 1995 while delivering arms to a Russian ally in Kabul. After spending more than a year in grim conditions in Taliban-controlledKandahar, the pilots managed to escape by flying their own plane out.

The crew, even though a Taliban jet was sent after them, avoided recapture, and upon their return, two of them were awarded Hero of Russia medals.

While several films, most famously Fyodor Bondarchuks The 9th Company, have looked at the Soviet war in Afghanistan, the film by young director Andrei Kavun is the first one to look at Russias more recent history in Afghanistan.

The films script is based on a diary written in captivity by the crews captain, Vladimir Sharpatov, played by Baluyev, and focuses on their time in captivity and on the growing tensions between the group and especially between Baluyevs character and Mashkovs. A number of changes from the real-life story were made, with five crew in the film instead of the original seven and one of the crew crying at one point something that Sharpatov is reported to have said would never have happened.

It is a film about individuality, about personalities and not about a team. Their cooperation, arguments, clashes are the main part of the dramatic conflict in Kandahar. I hope that this film will help fairness win out. In real life, there were seven, but only two became Heroes of Russia. I think that is not fair, Mashkov told Komsomolskaya Pravda.

Three of the original crew could not make the premiere of the film as they had flown out to earthquake stricken Haiti to deliver humanitarian aid.

Although some have accused the $7 million movie of attempting to match Hollywood war movies with its gung ho attitude, Kavun says the film is more about society than patriotism or bravery.

I dont understand the modern meaning of the word patriotism, Kavun said in a telephone interview. All these words like patriotism and motherland have lost their meaning. My film is about the fact that it is possible to love your country, regardless of its attitude toward you.

He has previously said that you cant call a film patriotic when the main part of it is the failure of the state to rescue your heroes.

Critics have met the film with mixed reviews. Kommersant critic Lidia Maslova said that despite attempts to film a psychological drama, the film still falls into the trap of the typical thriller about terrorists and real men who can resist them.

Still, one fan is Dmitry Rogozin, a former nationalist politician and current ambassador to NATO in Brussels who tweeted, I hope the film Kandahar about pilot-heroes who dared to hijack a military transport plane right from the Taliban will be a great success, even though in a previous tweet about the film he had written, Nothing like watching Tarantino nonsense!

The films pace is down to Italian editor Gabriella Cristiani, who won an Oscar for her editing of Bernardo Bertoluccis The Last Emperor.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Wednesday, Oct. 22


English teachers can expect to receive a few useful pointers today from Evgeny Kalashnikov, the British Council regional teacher, during the EFL Seminar this afternoon hosted by the British Book Center. The topic of todays seminar is Grammar Practice.


Young Petersburgers will get the chance to jumpstart their careers at Professional Growth, a job fair and forum featuring more than 40 major Russian and international companies vying for potential candidates for future positions. The forum not only is a chance to network but also to learn more about the modern business world and to understand what it takes to get the job you want.



Thursday, Oct. 23


AmChams Public Relations Committee meeting is scheduled to meet this morning at 9 a.m. in their office in the New St. Isaac Office Center.


Sportsmen get their chance to stock up on all kinds of gear at the Hunting and Fishing 2014 exhibition starting today at Lenexpo. Everything from rods and reels to boats, motorcycles and equipment for underwater hunting will be on sale so that any avid outdoorsman can always be prepared.



Friday, Oct. 24


SPIBAs ongoing Breakfast with the Director series continues today, featuring Tomas Hajek, Managing Director of the Northwest Division at Danone Russia. Hajek will be discussing collaborations between businesses from different cultures. The meeting is at 9 a.m. at the Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel and all who wish to attend must confirm their participation by Oct. 23.


Get your gong on at Sounds of the Universe, a concert at the city planetarium this evening incorporating six different gongs to create relaxing songs that will transport you upwards into the stratosphere. Tickets are 700 rubles ($17).



Saturday, Oct. 25


AVA Expo, the eighth edition of the event revolving around all things pop culture, returns to Lenexpo this weekend. Geeks, nerds, dweebs and dorks will have their chance to talk science fiction and explore a variety of international pop culture. Tickets for the event can be purchased on their website at avaexpo.ru.



Sunday, Oct. 26


Zenit St. Petersburg returns home for the first time in nearly a month as they host Mordovia Saransk in a Russian Premier League game. Currently at the top of the league thanks to their undefeated start to the season, the northern club hopes to extend the gap between them and second-place CSKA Moscow and win the title for the first time in three years. Tickets are available at the stadium box office or on the clubs website.



Monday, Oct. 27


Today marks the end of the art exhibit Neophobia at the Erarta Museum. Artists Alexey Semichov and Andrei Kuzmin took a neo-modernist approach to represent the array of fears that are ever-present throughout our lives. Tickets are 200 rubles ($4.90).



Tuesday, Oct. 28


The Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel plays host to SPIBAs Marketing and Communications Committees round table discussion on Government Relations Practices in Russia this morning. The discussion starts at 9:30 a.m. and participation must be confirmed by Oct. 24.



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