Monday, February 3, 2014

The Russian Film Industry

Last week I attended a screening of the film GENERATION P, an adaptation of the book by the same name. I didn’t love the book, so my expectations for the film weren’t high. But I needed some Russian practice, and with the screening being held at the American Ambassador’s residence, I knew there’d at least be good food and drink.

The Fulbright contingent at Spaso House

As usual, Spaso House did not disappoint. The director, a Russian who emigrated to the US when he was 15-years-old, managed to take a so-so book and make a fantastically entertaining film. The boring parts of the book were eliminated, the more interesting themes came to the forefront, and there were just enough mullets to really capture 1990s Moscow.  

The creative forces behind GENERATION P

The film was followed by a Q&A with the director, the producer, and one of the lead actors. After the director was introduced in Russian, the Q&A followed in the same vein, which left the Americans in the audience decidedly mute. Though I may have missed the finer points, it was obvious that the trio had an amusing rapport as they fought for mic time and even managed to break the mic stand in their excitement. Towards the end, one of the audience members posed a question that had stuck out with me when I was reading the book: “What is the Russian idea?” I was curious to see how they’d respond, and made an extra effort to understand.  The actor waxed eloquent on Russia’s greatness, the producer pooh-poohed him, the director started talking about the American pursuit of happiness, but in the end, they couldn’t come up with a definitive answer.  I’m glad I’m not the only one who can’t make sense of this place.

My next industry-related experience is hopefully going to be a tour of MosFilm, the biggest film studio in Russia.  According to their website, they offer tours to “film production and development professionals,” so I emailed them with a greatly trumped up story about my film industry background.  So far, no response, but that could be because my Russian is totally incomprehensible, and not because my delusions of grandeur aren't remotely credible. 

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