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Summary of press conferences held on August 31

On August 31, 2022, press conferences dedicated to the films "The Beheading of St. John the Baptist" (main competition), "The Visitor" (main competition), "Youth" (main competition), "The Rocking Baritone" (documentary competition), "The White Night" and the press conference of the short-film competition jury were hosted within the 44th Moscow International Film Festival.

"The Beheading" describes a family and its youngest member Jovan, whom they consider an outcast. The action takes place on one day and in one location when the family celebrates the Beheading of St. John the Baptist. Jovan's parents hide from their son and their guests that they are going to divorce each other, and Jovan hides that he takes drugs, hoping that the aliens will save him from a hopeless and meaningless existence on Earth. The press conference was attended by the director Sinisa Cvetic.

Sinisa Cvetic: "In the XXI century, it's probably hard to talk about the strength of faith, it is almost sure to have weakened. In the film I wanted to focus on the relationship between people, saying that we can believe in each other, not just in external forces. This film is also about how we can overcome the feeling of hopelessness and how our Serbian people continue their search of identity in a world where this is difficult both geographically and morally. Most of the main parts were played by theater actors whom the cinema audience doesn't know well, and this helped create a true family, so that it seemed like ordinary people, not actors, were in the screen. Although the actor playing Jovan, Pavle Mensur, is an emerging celebrity in the Serbian cinema, and has already played in several TV shows, "The Beheading" is his debut full-length film".

The main character of "The Visitor" is Umberto, who, after being released from prison, makes a modest living singing at funeral feasts. His greatest desire is to repair his broken relationship with his daughter and give her a decent life, but her grandparents, wealthy evangelical priests, are unwilling to give up custody of their only granddaughter. The director Martin Bullock and the producer Andrea Camponovo attended the press conference.

Martin Bullock: "This is the first Bolivian film to be presented at Moscow Film Festival, and this is why it's a great achievement not only for us but also for our country. In Latin America, evangelical churches have been spreading and gaining presence since the 1970s, and it was important for me to reflect this process. There are several themes covered in this film. One of them reflects the tension among people related to the existence of obeyance and subordination. There are people who dominate and people who are dominated. And this is seen not only among fathers and children, but also among pastors and their parish. This tension is manifested through such an obeyance that a few questions arise: "Is it always good? Does it have to be this way? Is it necessary or is it a bad thing?"

Andrea Camponovo: "This is Bolivia's first co-production with Uruguay. Our film has not yet been screened in Latin America and is scheduled to premiere in January. This is a very important film because we could get public funding to make it. Bolivia has no special cinema support and development foundations, so nothing like this could have happened before. At the time we were preparing to shoot, one such foundation appeared, but, unfortunately, after the coup it ceased to exist. But during the year it worked in Bolivia we made 14 films, and three of them won more than 50 prizes at international festivals. Therefore, it's very important for us to take part in international festivals, also to show the government how much we need this state support".

"The Youth" is a story of 40-year-old Vasily, who has been trying to find happiness in a big city for over 20 years. When he returns to his home village, he realizes that no one is waiting for him, and no one needs him anymore.

The director Dmitry Davydov, the actor Albert Alekseev, the cinematographer Nikolay Petrov attended the press conference.

Dmitry Davydov: "The film "Youth" seems to be a simple story, to some extent about myself, my peers, friends, classmates. I got interested in the topic of a wasted man who doesn't know what he wants in life at the age of forty. He is such an Ivan the Fool, I have met many people like this. We shot the film last year, in January, when it usually gets warmer here. But at that time, it was unusually chilly, below -65 on some days, and we had to shoot in these conditions. The shooting took two weeks. Albert Alekseev, an actor of the Sakha Theater, played the main part. As for Nikolai Petrov, this is his full-length debut".

Nikolai Petrov: "When Dima offered me to be the cameraman, I agreed without hesitating. When he told me about the idea, I had a good understanding of how we were going to film. This film stands out as it was shot in freezing weather. Even here, few people can boast of working at -60. We had two cameras, each working for 5-10 minutes. When one of them froze, we took it into a warm truck with two heaters, and before shooting the frame we spent 10-15 minutes discussing how we would shoot not to freeze the camera many times".

Albert Alexeyev: "Indeed, it was very chilly at -60. They gave me autumn shoes, a light leather jacket and a knitted sweater. And we were shooting for a very long time. I almost died there, I'd say, so all my pain, all my suffering in the film is real. I'm a big fan of Dima Davydov. I first saw him at a Yakutsk festival where he showed "Bonfire", and I was so impressed by it that I wanted to work with him in any line. And then I read the script, and the character there was different. I read it again, I thought it was like the Zemeckis movie "Cast Away" and "Joker" by Todd Phillips. Finally, I made a joint character of a man who doesn't want to grow up, with Peter Pan's syndrome. I wanted to make him such a big kid, naive, as if he were in a completely different world".

The French and Italian director and producer Michael Zampino, the Russian actress Aleksanda Rebenok and the independent filmmaker Kuldip Patel from Mumbai attended the press conference of the short-film competition jury.

Michael Zampino: "The strength of short-film cinema is author's ability to focus on a specific segment of a character's life in a very short time. It's a very ambitious format. However, sometimes it is impossible to tell a story in a short time, and as a spectator of short films, I often wanted to know more about the character. That's why short films often evolve into full-length films".

Kuldip Patel: "In short films authors have more freedom of expression, they can express opinions on sensitive political or cultural topics. Besides, such films cost less than full-length films. At the same time, short films leave less room for errors, and, of course, it is much harder to sell such films because they are not as profitable as the conventional full-length format".

Alexandra Rebenok: "Short films is where my cinema life began – I worked only in theater before. Short films always give a chance, an opportunity. A weak side of this format is the possibility of an artistic expression. It is difficult to show off artistically in such a format, to find some original approaches to load the plot with an artistic solution. This is the second time I've been on the short-film jury, and I have always judged films like: if I want to see the director's full-length film, it's a good short film".

"The Rocking Baritone" tells the story of a scandal breaking out at the top of Evgeny Nikitin's artistic career. Yet, the singer strives to reach his goals of success and acquittal while remaining faithful to his two main passions in life: opera and hard rock.

The producers Stanislav Yershov and Oleg Berezin attended the press conference. The director Bertrand Normand recorded a video message for the press conference.

Bertrand Normand: "When I met Evgeny Nikitin in 2011 and he told me about his life, I knew I couldn't miss the chance of making a film about him. For several years, I followed what was happening to him. And I tried to leave open material in the film, so that spectators could interpret what they saw themselves".

Stanislav Ershov: "Zhenya was supposed to be here with us, but about a week ago he ended up in intensive care at a St. Petersburg hospital. Luckily, everything is okay, he's alive and feels good, but there will be a long break in his opera career for about six months. And this is how the story began. In late 1990s I had two dreams, the classic music theater and sailing, and I went to St. Petersburg. One of the first projects I was engaged in was the Mariinsky Theatre Academy, which I did together with Larisa Gergieva. I met Zhenya there. He was already making a big impression, and his vocal talent was outstanding. At the same time, I wasn't so familiar with his versatility and his totally incompatible music vocations. And then I once saw him in a pub playing drums, and that was how the story started to unfold. The Bayreuth festival is a sore subject for him; he's not just a baritone, he's a Wagnerian baritone and for him being at this festival is like winning an Oscar for a filmmaker. I strongly wish that the film will be shown there".

Oleg Berezin: "The attention of journalists is important for us to promote the film because the audience today does not choose anything itself, they select based on recommendations. The film will be released in cinemas on September 20. Half of spectators will be surprised that anything is released in cinemas at all. There's one more thing. We understand that this film's audience is not teenagers, it is released with an 18+ rating, so we are focusing on the adult audience, which, unfortunately, goes to cinema much less often now. Distribution will not be easy, we will work with every theater and target audience. We are now changing a lot in distribution. There are lots of content of different quality, some are dreaming of bringing Hollywood back and thinking about the parallel import. It's obvious that auteur films and art distribution cannot exist without mass distribution. If there are no multiplexes for different audiences, our films won't sell. And for big cinema theaters to exist we need big Russian cinema. This could be "Kholop", "Legend No. 17", "Three Seconds", and then auteur cinema, children's films, documentaries can distribute with this background as well".

"The White Night" tells the story of the 1982 eruption of the Chichonal volcano that buried many towns, including the Zoque settlement in Esquipulas Guayabal. Years later, the inhabitants of the new Guayabal are rebuilding their lives, while the volcano and the buried town lurk under the brushwood. Trinidad, a poet born on the day of the eruption, has visions and this is quickly rumored across his community, causing people's collective effort to unearth their old town.

The director Tania Ximena attended the press conference.

Tania Ximena"The idea for the film appeared seven years ago, when we came to research the Chichonal volcano and the eruption of 1982. I went there with a group of volcano researchers, one of whom was the Russian Yury Taran, he is now about 80 years old. And when I learned the story of the volcano, its eruption, and the local community, I knew it was impossible not to tell it. Even in Mexico, few people know this story and this small tribe. Our film is sure a documentary; all the events there are real. At the same time, we added dreams and dance there. The artistic part is based on Trinidad, his poems read out and visualized in the film. It was important for us to show the cosmogony of the tribe not through image, but also through sound, and we worked on this carefully. I've been studying visual art for many years, so I specifically chose this combination of a documentary and a feature film".