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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, 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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