On August 18th, the opening ceremony of the Let’s Live (Budem Zhit’) International Film Festival took place in the cinema tent on Poklonnaya Hill, Moscow. Traditionally the film festival is timed to the celebration of the Russian Cinema Day, while its main topic this year is the centenary of the USSR. The festival opened with Never Shoot a Comedy by Elina Zhukova, a film dedicated to the 95th anniversary of Eldar Ryazanov, and a touching drama Tasya by Vladimir Maisuradze about the memory of generations.
Renowned film makers, Honoured Artists of Russia, entertainment celebrities and many others were invited as guests and participants of the ceremony. Rodion Gazmanov, Vasilina Krasnoslobodtseva, Irina Pudova, Bayan Mix band, People's Artist of Russia Fedor Dobronravov, Nonna Grishaeva, Sergey Skachkov and many others performed on the stage of the cinema tent. The audience sang along with the artists to familiar songs from Soviet films.
In his video message at the beginning of the event, Nikita Mikhalkov, Chairman of the Filmmakers' Union of Russia, greeted the guests of the festival. The People's Artist of the RSFSR said that 11 years had been a long story for any film festival. Let's Live had become an important and integral part of cultural life of the capital over these years.
“It is of paramount importance that this festival pays tribute to and shows Soviet films. No matter how much we wisecracked about them when we were young, or for how long we used to queue to a cinema theatre to watch foreign films when they were brought to our country, the significance and greatness of the Soviet films becomes clear with time. It is not about giving praise to ourselves – the fact is that nearly every good Soviet film was dedicated to the search for meaning. Russian literature, after all, taught us to search for meaning. This quality has become regrettably rare in the modern world today, and we don't often see it in our own country either. That's why I really hope that Let's Live festival will give a chance to its audience and participants to watch films which have the search for meaning is their crux”, Nikita Mikhalkov said.
People's Artist of Russia Evgeny Gerasimov, President of the Festival, Chairman of the Moscow brunch of the Filmmakers' Union of Russia, also addressed the guests of the event. He noted that, despite the bans and difficulties, the festival brought representatives of different countries that love the culture of our country and do not lose touch with it in their art and culture. Let's Live is designed to forge cultural bonds between different countries and peoples, according to Gerasimov.
The program of the function was ornamented by contributions dedicated to the anniversaries of some great Soviet films. This year celebrates the 45th anniversary of An Office Affair (Sluzhebny Roman), everyone's favourite film by Eldar Ryazanov. People's Artist of the RSFSR Svetlana Nemolyaeva, who starred as Olga Ryzhova in the film, was the guest of honour at the soiree. The actress congratulated everyone on the successful opening of the Let's Live Festival and confessed that that evening they remembered “the most important and dearest” film in her life.
“When we were shooting this feature, we were aware that the result would be lovely and dear to us. But we never thought that the film would become such a long-liver, that so many people and even generations would watch it”, said the actress. Before leaving the podium, Svetlana Nemolyaeva recited Bella Akhmadulina's verses that had been used in An Office Affair 45 years ago. The audience gave the actress a standing ovation.
Steven Mao, producer from the USA and the 2019 Oscar winner for the best short film, was one of the most notable foreign guests of Let's Live this year. The film maker thanked the organizers of the festival for inviting him and spoke about talks on expanding cooperation with the Russian festivals.
“It’s a great honour for me to be here in these challenging times. However, it is very important to understand and be aware that culture is not a wall, but a bridge. I believe that an artist or an actor should never experience discrimination because of their national identity. This morning I visited the U.S. Embassy [in Moscow], and we discussed how to expand cooperation with the Russian festivals. So the work is under way”, said Mao.
Guests of the 11th Let's Live International Film Festival will be offered seven days of an intensive programme full of exciting first showing of films and interesting master-classes conducted by famous directors, producers and journalists. This year more than 400 film-makers from Russia and countries of the former Soviet Union and beyond have sent their applications for participation in the film festival.
The jury of the Let's Live Film Festival will assess films in three nominations.
The best Documentary will be selected by Svetlana Muzychenko (Chairperson), director, associate professor from VGIK; Olga Pankratova, Director; Peter Spector, first deputy editor-in-chief of the Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper; Marika Chirkina-Gevorkyan (Armenia), director, script writer.
The jury of the Short Fiction Film contest consists of Maxim Averin (Chairperson), Honoured Actor Artist of Russia; Natalia Domoratskaya, producer, general director of DA RECORDS studio; Maria Zalunina, head of CSR at National Media Group; Alexey Kamynin, director; Marina Ozerenchuk, film expert, researcher at the department of development of education-through-films methods at VGIK.
The Full-length Feature Films are assessed this year by Dmitry Astrakhan (Chairperson), director; Artem Vitkin, screenwriter, producer; Natalia Ivanova, general director, producer at Good Production company; Igor Klebanov, film-maker, People's Artist of Russia, professor; Hong Sanwu (South Korea), professor, film expert; Yanina Studilina, actress.
The festival is organized by the Fund for the Development of Social and Cultural Initiatives Cinematographer and the Production Centre Movistart.
The event is convened with the support of the Moscow City Department of Culture; Moscow City Department of Mass Media; cinema chain Moscow Cinema; Moscow Guild of Cultural Workers and the Filmmakers' Union of Russia.
The construction company Imperia is the partner of the festival.
Abzatz-Media, Art-Moskovia, Afisha.KP, Cinema Business Today, the Moskovsky Komsomolets, Workers of TV, Digital TV Media Holding, CinePromo, Cinemaplex, ProfiCinema, and Shot TV channel are the festival’s media partners.
In 2022 the Let's Live International Film Festival is held in late August in Moscow and is timed to the Russian Film Day, as well as the centenary of the USSR.
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© Cinematographer Foundation, Filmmakers' Union of Russia, Movistart Production Centre