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Nostrovia! Here's to a week of Russian films

091020_18
The Russian comedy Four Taxi Drivers And A Dog (2004) screens this Friday and Saturday. PHOTO SUPPLIED

Russia’s film renaissance is coming to a Centre of Science and Culture near you

The Russian comedy Four Taxi Drivers And A Dog (2004) screens this Friday and Saturday. PHOTO SUPPLIED

SCREENINGS

Back in Time: October 20, 6pm
Fatherland or Death: October 21, 6pm
Franz + Polina: October 22, 6pm
The Star: October 24, 6pm
Four Taxi Drivers and a Dog:
October 23, 6pm; October 24, 3pm
Russian Centre of Science and Culture
103 Norodom Boulevard

To the uninitiated, the term “Russian cinema” might evoke mental images of a stark, grey aesthetic, hosting deep filmic dissections of the communist ideal to a backdrop of austere tower blocks.

So what about the adventures of Figaro, a small dog whose fearless appetite for adventure turns the lives of four taxi drivers upside down?

That is the premise of Four Taxi Drivers and a Dog, one of five contemporary Russian movies due to screen at the Russian Centre of Science and Culture this week. All films are dubbed in Khmer with English subtitles, but whatever your language, entry costs nishto – in other words, it’s free.

Dilyara Ravilova-Borovik, the first secretary of the Russian embassy, says the screenings celebrate the 65th anniversary of Russia’s victory over Nazi Germany in the First World War.

It is also part of a cultural exchange which seeks to demonstrate Russia’s cinematic renaissance and encourage Cambodians to learn more about the country’s history, society and arts.

Ravilova-Borovik says in the past 10 years or so Russia has re-emerged as a cinematic breeding ground.

The Russian movie sector ran into trouble in the late ’80s and early ’90s, as television became more accessible to the public and the number of cinemagoers declined rapidly.

Around 1998, a resurgent film industry emerged, fed by money invested in large, modern cinemas and the proliferation of European and American movies. Private production companies spang up, producing around 800 movies per year.

Some are even spreading their wings abroad, as Cambodia found out last year. A Russian production company came to the Kingdom to produce Rainy Season, a love story between a Cambodian woman and a Russian man, which went on to win awards in Russia.

Ravilova-Borovik says she believes the screenings will help the film sector in Cambodia, as the movies could inspire Cambodians interested in the silver screen.

She acknowledges many Cambodians lack the technical skills to produce films, but says the Russian embassy is inviting Cambodian students to apply for film studies scholarships in her native Russia.

This is the second time a selection of Russian movies has been screened in Cambodia. The first was in 2007, when more than 1,000 people attended the screenings.

This year’s five Russian movies deal with universal themes of love, compassion, honesty, partriotism and humanity.
Each movie screens for around 90 minutes.

Ravilova-Borovik says she hopes the locally produced Rainy Season will be included in next year’s calendar.

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