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Summary of press conferences held on August 26

On August 26, press conferences dedicated to the films "Vegetable Garden" (main competition), "Petropolis" (Russian Premieres competition), "The Journey of Mastorna" (main competition) were hosted within the 44th Moscow International Film Festival. 

The story of the "Vegetable Garden" is focused on middle-aged women living far away from the capital and everyday striving for a decent living. One of them is lucky to indulge by falling in love despite everything.

The press conference was attended by the director, producer, screenwriter Larisa Sadilova, the producer, screenwriter Rustam Akhadov, the actor and executive producer Prokhor Nevrov, the actresses Maria Semenova and Olga Lapshina. 

Larisa Sadilova: "The script of "Vegetable Garden" was written for Valentina Telichkina and Yury Kutafin. I've known him since 2015, when we filmed in Kursk and he was part of the "Rural Screenings" project, in which actors travel around the country with a mobile cinema and show films. I liked Yuri as a person and as an actor. I kept thinking of him when I was writing other scripts and when the idea for the film "The Vegetable Garden" came up, I realized that it had to be written specifically for him. If we had filmed a famous actor instead of him, the film would not have succeeded. The same with Valentina Telichkina. We were really lucky that it worked out that way with Olga Lapshina. We started shooting the film in 2020 but because of the pandemic we stopped and resumed the shooting in 2021. Originally, a different actress was supposed to play, but it didn't work out due to the shooting schedule, while Olga Lapshina luckily was available on our shooting days. And it's a miracle! I once filmed Masha Semyonova in "Once in Trubchevsk" and I like her a lot, I always try to offer her a role. For the role of Prokhor Nervov who also worked as executive producer of the film, we first were looking for people from the outside, but then we realized that we had to take our own people, otherwise we wouldn't be able to line up the schedule, and this is how Prokhor became one of the actors. I'm really happy with this choice".

Olga Lapshina: "Larisa's offer was a milestone for me. I knew I would replace an actress I respect a lot and have to try not let anyone down, to play better, not worse. And the partnership with Valya Telichkina whom I admired in the film "The Beginning" was a gift for me. Also, from the time of "Leviathan" I also started planting a "cinema garden" near my summer house. I give different plant names of the films where I have already played or for which I have been approved. So that the films could bring fruits. And then I was offered a whole "Vegetable Garden" to act in and I realized this was my destiny". 

Mariya Semenova: "The story of "Vegetable Garden" is very relevant for me. I sort of speak with my mother in almost the same way, only not through songs, but through poetry she writes. So, for me this film is about family in the broadest sense. And the theme of how we let each other down, but still cannot do without each other, is relevant for everyone, regardless of where we live, in large cities or really small towns". 

Rustam Akhadov: "We had a long time to prepare due to the pandemic. But it was an advantage. We reached the shooting fully prepared. We had a modest budget and managed to shoot everything within 21 days." 

Prokhor Nervov: "There are lucky filmmakers who succeed everywhere. This was the case with this film. From selecting a shooting location to people we contacted, and even the weather. For example, for the film we needed to run a train on the counter track, and after long negotiations with Russian Railways we could do this. They gave us a separate train with a dedicated person mapping the route and the shooting crew just traveled on this train. Now, the weather. We filmed in the hinterland of Smolensk region and when we arrived to select an outdoor location, everything was ideally covered with snow. When we came to shoot a big thaw began. But one night before shooting outdoor scenes there was heavy snow and we even had to find a tractor. We needed it to make technical trails for the crew". 

"The Petropolis" is set in Russia, America, and Japan. The main character, Vladimir Ognev is a son of a Russian emigrant family. In the early 2000s he lives and studies in the USA. He has a brilliant academic career and a happy private life. Aftter defending his thesis, he receives an offer from a UN's special department to work in space research: how will the mankind respond it they knew that an extraterrestrial civilization existed and stayed in an ongoing contact with us? As time passes, Vladimir comes to understand that this scenario is not so fantastic as it may seem. Now the Earth's future depends on his work.

The press conference was attended by the director Valery Fokin, the actors Anton Shagin, Vladimir Koshevoy, Junsuke Kinoshita, the photography director Ilya Ovsenev, the producer Artem Vitkin. 

Valery Fokin: "In the filmmaking process you always have to limit theater manner of acting, especially when you work with actors. But speaking about the form, as a theater director I like the combination of theater and cinema, especially in this film, which can be called a sci-fi film. So here we quite freely move time and space, I would call this film a journey across the palace of my memory. And in this case this theater manner of acting really helped and was appropriate". 

Ilya Ovsenev: "It was interesting for me to find a combination of theater and film and make everything in one huge pavilion, which was specially built for the shooting". 

Artem Vitkin: "Many Russian films have been affected by the pandemic, but an interesting transformation happened to the "Petropolis" – in a sense, the pandemic helped. Initially, it was planned to shoot the film in different countries of the world, we even went to Japan to select the locations. But when that turned out to be impossible, we rethought the artistic concept of the film. That's how the multi-level scenery of several thousand square meters was created, built on the site of a hangar that was going to be demolished. There was Tokyo and an American bar and an oceanfront house in Florida. As far as I know, it's the biggest set in the history of the modern Russian cinema". 

Anton Shagin: "The preparation took more time and difficulty than the performance itself inside the space, which was wonderfully organized by our artists. We could work without any concerns. We were shooting for about a month. There was no time to warm up and I had to prepare in advance because my text was very challenging".

Vladimir Koshevoy: "I had no difficulty playing a foreigner. I just walked into the movie theater, when I was taken to be one. As Valeriy Vladimirovich said, I just had to have a little makeup and start playing".

Junsuke Kinoshita: "Valery Fokin is known in Japan, I adore his work and I am very happy that I was able to act in this film. The artists really did a wonderful job, and I was impressed with the shooting pavilion and the way Tokyo was portrayed there. So, I want to express my deep gratitude to both Valery Fokin and the entire crew for this magnificent work". 

The film "Journey of Mastorna" shows one day from the life of a loving couple, a girl working on its thesis on decorative art and a filmmaker planning to shoot his first film. A love story in the streets of Shanghai like "In the City of Dawn" with many allusions linked to other classic films, such as "The Dreamers". 

The director Chan Ming Zhi Liao, the cameraman Li Jinyan, the actress Lin Xiyuan, the assistant director Lin Yihan, and the film spokesperson Xu Xin took part in the press conference in an online mode.

Chan Ming Zhi Liao: "I'm very happy that our film allows spectators to see Shanghai at different ages and to associate their memories with the Shanghai of today. There's not much improvisation in our film, all the spoken lines were defined in advance. I watch films not only in China, but all over the world. And I see that in the recent three years such arthouse films have had great difficulties with distribution. But we hope that our film will be successful in China".