In 2010, the 40th anniversary of the Molodist film festival was marked with fireworks, Gérard Depardieu, Sophie Marceau and Christopher Lambert. Naturally, 2011 would have to be much more toned down. No pomp, no big stars. But then, logical reasoning has nothing to do with this year's modesty; the fact is simply that the festival's budget was cut in half, falling short of even USD 500,000. The event has also lost many of its sponsors. For the sake of economy, the opening ceremony will be held at the modestly priced Kyivskiy Rus hotel. Rumors are circulating that some people want to see the forum closed, and you will want to resist the thought that this may be linked to the Odesa International Film Festival, which is going all out to be Ukraine's festival number one. Unlike the Odesa venue, Molodist still attracts two to three times more films and is still held in the capital with its central venue remaining the Kyiv Cinema Theater.
A Jerzy Hoffman film will open the Molodist Film Festival for the third time this year with The Battle of Warsaw. 1920, ahistorical drama about one of the biggest battles fought in the first half of the 20th century, which the Poles believe saved Europe from a Russian Bolshevik onslaught. This is the first Polish film made in the popular 3D format. On top of that, it features the unforgettable Daniel Olbrychski (Józef Piłsudski), Bogusław Linda (a Polish Bruce Willis) and Alexander Domogarov, who played Bohun in Hoffman’s With Fire and Sword. The film is said to have received positive reviews in Britain but not in Poland. It has a Ukrainian dimension.
The festival’s competition comprises 12 feature movies from 14 countries and nearly 50 short films and student-produced films. Judging from how these movies have fared at other festivals, it is going to be a high-quality selection. For example, Norwegian Happy, Happy won the World Cinema Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival and Argentine-Spanish Las Acacias was awarded the Caméra d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival. One film, Landof Oblivion, starring Olga Kurylenko, is a story about Chornobyl and was shot in Ukraine.
Scandinaviawill present 10 movies — two from each of five countries — featuring different genres and formats, varied quality and ratings. But the central piece in this collection is Marius Holst’s drama King of Devil’s Island. A beautiful and poignant film based on real events that took place in 1915, it tells the story of inmates in a juvenile prison on a cold Norwegian island. It is a tough, Nordic film with the tense emotionality of violence and the cruel response that violence provokes. The film features Stellan Skarsgard and excellent acting by the young artists Benjamin Helstad and Trond Nilssen.
NEW RUSSIAN CINEMA
The festival’s program includes just six Russian films, but each one is a thing of beauty. Alexander Zeldovich’s Target (script by Vladimir Sorokin) is a long-awaited and long-overdue project — shooting began in 2007. Hunter is interesting primarily as a new project by Georgian Bakur Bakuradze, who won the main prize at Molodist several years ago. Oleg Fliangolz’s Indifference was resumed and completed 20 years after the initial stage. It claimed the main prize at Kinotavr 2011.
RETROSPECTIVE OF MAYA DEREN FILMS
One of the central figures of American avant-garde, Maya Deren was born in 1917 in Kyiv, even though she only came to the attention of our viewers in the 1990s. After coming to the USA as an émigré, Deren studied journalism and political science. She began shooting films in the 1940s. Her keen interest in choreography shines through in her poetic, black-and-white, largely silent short films full of dancing and movement and lacking a clear plot. In her lifetime, she was acquainted with Marcel Duchamp and André Breton and made films about Anaïs Nin and John Cage.
POLISH SCHOOL OF ANIMATION
One of Europe’s strongest, this school will present a large selection of its works at Molodist: 45 short films executed in various techniques. Together they cover 50 years in the development of Polish animation, from Andrzej Pawłowski’s Cineforms(1957) and Walerian Borowczyk’s House (1958) to Tomasz Bagiński’s outstanding films – The Cathedral (2002) and Fallen Art (2004). A large part of these mini-films participated incompetitions at Molodist, such as Zbigniew Rybczyński’s Oscar-winning Tango (1980).
A FESTIVAL OF FESTIVALS
This will be the most fascinating part of the festival for the general public as it will feature hits of other film forums, such as Asghar Farhadi’s Nader and Simin, A Separation. It won the Golden Bear at the Berlinale and was aptly dubbed “the swan song of Iranian cinema” by journalists. The program also includes Béla Tarr’s The Turin Horse which claimed the Silver Bear, although critics were outraged by this, insisting that the film was a true masterpiece. A Johnnie To film, Life Without Principle, was screened in Venice, while Gus Van Sant’s Restless was featured in Cannes.
SOUNDS OF MOLODIST
This new program will combine music and cinema: a Eugen Illés film, Mania. The Story of a Tobacco Company Worker (1918) starring Pola Negri, will be screened to the live accompaniment of the Wrocław Chamber Orchestra Leopoldinum (Poland). The premiere of a restored film version of Two Days, directed by Heorhiy Stabovyi (Ukraine, 1927), will be accompanied by a symphony orchestra. The “Portraits” media performance will be a mix between cinema and musical improvisation by Zoriana Ros, Christophe Rocher, Jacques DiDonato, Yuriy Yaremchuk, Roman Ros (VJ Group Cube, Ukraine-France).