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Summary of press conferences held on September 1

On September 1, 2022, press conferences dedicated to the films "Mikulai" (Russian Premieres competition), "Intensive Care" (Russian Premieres competition), "The Land of Great Opportunities" (documentary competition) were hosted within the 44th Moscow International Film Festival.

The film "Mikulai" is about an old man called Mikulai living in a remote Kryashen village. He has a young, pregnant wife, parents, and his fellow villagers who deeply respect him. But one day a man comes to the village, claiming to be Mikulai's son. And the ideal world begins to crumble, revealing a terrifying reality.

The director and general producer Ilshat Rakhimbay, the scriptwriters Gulnara Akhmetova and Alexander Ivanov, the producer Anna Dobronravova, the actors Varvara Shmykova and Ivan Dobronravov, the cinematographer Yuri Danilov, and the general sponsor and project partner Renat Mamin attended the press conference.

Ilshat Rakhimbay: "The film was conceived as a creative endeavor in the literal sense – without any state support, self-financed. We carried almost the whole preparation stage and scripting on our shoulders, because a week before shooting was supposed to start, we learned that we don’t have any money – the people that had agreed to do it backed out. Moreover, we had already booked tickets for our actors, built the set, made costumes. We had a choice – either calling it a "no go" and simply packing it up without knowing when we would be able to get everyone to Tatarstan for a month next time or going the other route that I ultimately chose – inspiring everyone to believe in our story. Actors, creative department, technicians (to some of whom I still owe money) no one called me with any claims a year after we finished filming. In my opinion, this shows what a wonderful energetic experience this film has been, how inspired everyone was. This is the first time something like this has happened in Tatarstan, with actors of this level. It’s all about the energy of wonderful people who came together to make something deep, excellent, beautiful".

Gulnara Akhmetova: "The play that the script is based on has a storyline about a plane. We realized that there is a connection to the "Night Flight" by Saint-Exupéry in the way it handles the same questions of the meaning of life".

Varvara Shmykova: "I had just one shooting day, so I think that this is a main part in disguise. I built my character around the archetypes of Mother Nature, Mother Earth, and all pagan associations related to this kind of energy. This shooting day was like a bright flash lighting up the grey sky. The same goes for my character – she’s full of fire, bright, enticing, just like me". 

Yuri Danilov: "My portfolio mostly consists of music videos and advertisements. Ilshat came to me when I wanted a breath of fresh air as an artist, so I agreed without thinking twice. Commercial work was not enough to express myself creatively". 

Ivan Dobronravov: "Our regions are a goldmine of all kinds of stories begging to be shared, reformatted, told in a new way. I very much hope that this will be realized. I think that now is just the right time". 

Renat Mamin: "Tatneft Charitable Foundation provides a wide range of support measures to cultural and creative projects, including the cinema. This is one of the priorities of our social policy. This project was realized at the crossing point of many different factors. We don’t see it as a commercial project. It is a social investment into the Republic’s culture. This is a milestone event for Tatar cinema, a real breakthrough". 

Anna Dobronravova: "People who became our partners saw great potential in this film, because regional cinema is recognized as an actual trend. Also, the story itself, the material, the director and his team that we got so attached to – all of this made us realize that we need to get involved in this film, because of important narratives that it contains and represents". 

The film "Intensive Care" tells a story of a sports news presenter Yegor Tikhonov, who becomes a volunteer after overcoming his mid-life crisis and experiencing inner turmoil. He helps mothers of sick children in the cancer ward and searches for lost people together with "Liza Alert". Gradually finding a new life, Yegor begins to lose the old one: he loses his job, almost divorces his wife. More and more often he asks himself whether he is strong enough to go all the way. 

The director and scriptwriter Peter Todorovsky and the producer Ivan Golomovzyuk attended the press conference.

Peter Todorovsky: "My idea of a person in good health [the Russian literal title of the film] is someone who experiences moral anxiety at least once in a while. Because the main character played by Nikita Efremov is starting to feel the anxiety and probably even meaninglessness of his own life, many people around him who don’t experience anything similar think that there’s something wrong with him. I hope that towards the ending many would want to answer the question "Is it normal to feel sympathy and compassion to people that one has no relation to?" Although our story is admittedly controversial. For example, the main character’s wife portrayed by Irina Starshenbaum is also right in her own way, and she deserves respect. Her right is none the less important for me than the right of the main character. Moreover, the story that I tried to tell is also about how sometimes fighting against evil might be futile, but this doesn’t mean that we don’t have to do it". 

Ivan Golomovzyuk: "We did a very interesting project with Peter, a TV Series "Six Empty Seats", this is where we initially met. After this, Peter came to us with this script, we were really touched by it and decided to launch the production. It was an interesting journey – we fought a lot, because Peter was not only a director, but also wrote the script. But I think that the compromises resulted in Peter making a good film, because we listened to each other and understood each other, which is always important when shooting a film".

The film "The Land of Great Opportunities" is a project in the KION Originals line about thrilling adventures of a man from a different culture who has managed to adjust to new environment and achieved considerable success. The main character is a farmer, Justus Walker. Long ago together with his family he relocated from the USA to Siberia and settled in the village of Takuchet in the Krasnoyarsk region. Justus set up a full-fledged personal farm. "Merry Milkman" who is realizing the classical dream on the Russian soil is an image which cinema could not possibly overlook. Justus’s life and work promote love and care for the land to whomever it may belong. 

The director Andrey Ananin, the main character Justus Walker, the producers Igor Mishin, Angelina Ashman and Daria Fedotova attended the press conference.

Andrey Ananin: "The hardest part was that production of the film took eight years. I never would have made it alone. I don’t believe that documentary film can be done fully independently, that’s why I always say that this is collective work. And nothing would have happened without Justus’s energy and faith. I started working on this story back when I was studying at VGIK. This was a sort of a portrait study on the American Dream topic. I had just met Justas during my first expedition trip, he told me about his plans and his dream to build a farm of his own. I thought, this theoretically could be an interesting starting point. Half a year passed and he called me and said that he was about to leave. At that point I understood that we ought to make this film".

Justus Walker: "We weren’t looking for fame and just did our job. Andrey told me that he wanted to make a serious project and I saw it as the God’s will, because the God has destined Russia to be a global agricultural power. And there are small farmers who do something across our country for this purpose. That’s why I would be glad if I could portray a positive character specifically in this area".

Angelina Ashman: "I knew that Andrey was making a film about this person. It was a happy coincidence and a great bit of luck that such greats as Igor Mishin and Timur Bekmambetov took a firm grip of this project. But they would never do it, if it was not for the unique hero and a story. It’s also notable that it will be released at KION in a completely different format that is unique for documentary cinema – as a series that will include episodes that didn’t make it to the film".

Igor Mishin: "During the pandemic, Timur Bekmambetov came up with a project where young authors pitched their ideas. When material about Justas was shown, I immediately realized that we were ready to invest in it. This is bona fide social impact entertainment. And I immediately noted that it would be a documentary comedy, not just a film, that’s why we bought in right away".