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THE WHALER BOY by Philip Yuriev
THE WHALER BOY by Philip Yuriev

The Russian Film Week in New York kicks off the New Year with an online edition that brings the latest in Russian cinema to US audiences from January 23-29, 2021. Last year’s edition expanded the event’s program to audiences in Boston, Washington DC, Seattle, Chicago, Denver and Palo Alto with next year’s online edition opening up fresh Russian films to nationwide viewers.

The first batch of ten titles are all international or North American premieres of this year’s crop, with the rest of the program, including documentaries and children’s films to be announced later this month.

The Russian Film Week USA is founded by New York-based arts non-profit the Cherry Orchard Festival, a producer of international theatrical, classical music and educational programming, and Russia’s Rock Studio Films, which also organizes the Message to Man International Documentary Film festival in St. Petersburg and the Russian Film Week in London (UK). Its mission is to promote global cultural activity.

As Cherry Orchard Festival founders Maria Shclover and Irina Shabshis comment, “There is nothing like premiering a brand new Russian film in a packed theater with the director present for a dialogue with the local audience. But the silver lining of our COVID pivot to an online format is that viewers from all over the US are able to watch the film and exchange ideas with filmmakers in live online Q&As. “

“This year Russian studio Rock Films presents American cinephiles with the astonishing visions of a diverse range of Russian filmmakers – some of which have already won awards in Venice and other A-list festivals, such as THE WHALER BOY and SENTENTIA,” says Rock Studio Films founder Alexey Uchitel.

“Many of the features are inspired by real-life events or people that have shaped Russia these last decades, whether it’s sports, music, literature or terrorism. It’s been a year of great uncertainty, so we’re very proud of this initial collection of works that premiered as Russia navigated its lockdown. And it’s especially exciting to roll out the red carpet for them to the entire US.”

First titles (final program to follow later this month):

International premiere unless noted, production year 2020.

THE CONFERENCE by Ivan Tverdovskiy, North American premiere. Fictional account of survivor’s guilt about the 2002 terrorist attack in a Moscow theater.

DEEPER! by Mikhail Segal. A young director brings arthouse methods to an adult film production.

DOCTOR LISA by Oksana Karas. Feature about a real-life doctor caring for Moscow’s most vulnerable.

GOODBYE AMERICA by Sarik Andreasyan. Comedy: Russian immigrants in the US look differently at Mother Russia.

IN DEEP SLEEP by Marina Ignatenko. Poetic feature debut about a fisherman, who finds his hometown shut down in a deep sleep.

MARA (SIDE EFFECTS) by Alexey Kazakov. Horror film about healer Mara erasing the trauma of a home invasion.

SENTENTIA by Dmitriy Rudakov. North American premiere. Black Nights Film Festival FIPRESCI award. A beautiful, meditative dramatization of the end of Russian poet and Gulag survivor Varlam Shalamov.

STRELTSOV by Ilya Uchitel. A sports drama about Soviet-era soccer star fighting to save his reputation.

TSOY by Alexey Uchitel (opening night). Reimagining the aftermath of rock star Viktor Tsoy’s death in Soviet-era Latvia.

THE WHALER BOY by Philip Yuriev (closing night). North American premiere. Winner of this year’s Venice Giornate degli Autori award for Best Director. Indigenous teenager discovers a world far beyond his whaling community.

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