Cinema of Russia

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Cinema of Russia
Salut.JPG
Salyut cinema in Yekaterinburg
No. of screens 4,372 (2016)[1]
 • Per capita 2.1 per 100,000 (2011)[2]
Main distributors Central Partnership (26.6%)
WDSSPR (19.5%)
20th Century Fox (16.1%) [3]
Produced feature films (2016)[1]
Total 101
Number of admissions (2016)[1]
Total 193,500,000
 • Per capita 1.2 (2012)[4]
National films 32,100,000 (16.8%)
Gross box office (2016)[1]
Total US$722.5 million
National films 15.5%

The cinema of Russia began in the Russian Empire, widely developed in the Soviet Union and in the years following its dissolution, the Russian film industry would remain internationally recognized. In the 21st century, Russian cinema has become popular internationally with hits such as House of Fools, Night Watch, and the popular Brother. The Moscow International Film Festival began in Moscow in 1935. The Nika Award is the main annual national film award in Russia.

Cinema of the Russian Empire[edit]

Ivan Mozzhukhin as the title character in Yakov Protazanov's 1917 film, Father Sergius. It was the last film of the Russian Empire era.

The first films seen in the Russian Empire were brought in by the Lumière brothers, who exhibited films in Moscow and St. Petersburg in May 1896. That same month, Lumière cameraman Camille Cerf made the first film in Russia, recording the coronation of Nicholas II at the Kremlin.

Aleksandr Drankov produced the first Russian narrative film Stenka Razin, based on events told in a popular folk song and directed by Vladimir Romashkov. Ladislas Starevich made the first Russian animated film (and the first stop motion puppet film with a story) in 1910 - Lucanus Cervus. Among the notable Russian filmmakers of the era were Aleksandr Khanzhonkov and Ivan Mozzhukhin, who made Defence of Sevastopol in 1912. Yakov Protazanov made Departure of a Grand Old Man, a biographical film about Lev Tolstoy.

During World War I, imports dropped drastically, and Russian filmmakers turned out anti-German, nationalistic films. In 1916, 499 films were made in Russia, more than three times the number of just three years earlier.

The Russian Revolution brought more change, with a number of films with anti-Tsarist themes. The last significant film of the era, made in 1917, Father Sergius would become the first new film release of the Soviet era.

Cinema of the Soviet Union[edit]

Although Russian was the dominant language in films during the Soviet era, the cinema of the Soviet Union encompassed films of the Armenian SSR, Georgian SSR, Ukrainian SSR, and, to a lesser degree, Lithuanian SSR, Byelorussian SSR and Moldavian SSR. For much of the Soviet Union's history, with notable exceptions in the 1920s and the late 1980s, film content was heavily circumscribed and subject to censorship and bureaucratic state control. Despite this, Soviet films achieved significant critical success from the 1950s onwards partly as a result, similar to the cinema of other Eastern Bloc countries, for reflecting the tension between independent creativity and state-directed outcomes.

As with much Soviet art during the 1920s, films addressed major social and political events of the time. Probably the single most important film of this period was Sergei Eisenstein's The Battleship Potemkin, not only because of its depiction of events leading up to the 1905 Revolution, but also because of innovative cinematic techniques, such as the use of jump-cuts to achieve political ends. Other notable films of the period include Vsevolod Pudovkin's Mother (1926) and Dziga Vertov's Man with a Movie Camera (1929).

However, with the consolidation of Stalinist power in the Soviet Union, and the emergence of Socialist realism as state policy, which carried over from painting and sculpture into filmmaking, Soviet film became subject to almost total state control.

Popular films released in the 1930s include the musicals Circus, Jolly Fellows and Volga-Volga starring leading actress of the time Lyubov Orlova.

In the 1930s and the 1940s Eisenstein directed two historical epics – Aleksandr Nevsky (1938) and Ivan the Terrible (1944).

Immediately after the end of the Second World War, the Soviet color films such as The Stone Flower (1947), Ballad of Siberia (1947), and Cossacks of the Kuban (1949) were released.

In the late 1950s and early 1960s Soviet film-makers were given a less constricted environment, and while censorship remained, films emerged which began to be recognised outside the Soviet bloc such as Ballad of a Soldier which won the 1961 BAFTA Award for Best Film and the 1958 Palme d'Or winning The Cranes Are Flying. The Height (1957) is considered to be one of the best films of the 1950s (it also became the foundation of the Bard movement). Yet, some important films did not receive a wide release; The Story of Asya Klyachina (1966), Commissar (1967), Brief Encounters (1967).

The most critically acclaimed Russian director of the 1960s and 1970s was Andrei Tarkovsky, who directed the groundbreaking art-house films Ivan's Childhood, Andrei Rublev, Solaris, The Mirror and Stalker.

A few of the famous Soviet comedies are Carnival Night (1956), The Irony of Fate (1976), Kidnapping, Caucasian Style (1967), Operation Y and Shurik's Other Adventures (1965), The Twelve Chairs (1976), Walking the Streets of Moscow (1964), Gentlemen of Fortune (1971).

"Ostern" – the Soviet Union's own take on the Western genre became also popular. Examples of the Ostern include White Sun of the Desert (1970), The Headless Horseman (1972), Armed and Dangerous (1977), A Man from the Boulevard des Capucines (1987).

A respective amount of World War II dramas made in the 1970s and the 1980s were acclaimed internationally, some of which are Liberation (1971), The Dawns Here Are Quiet (1972), They Fought for Their Country (1975), The Ascent (1977) and Come and See (1985).

In the 1980s acclaimed Russian director Andrei Konchalovsky was the first filmmaker to find success in Hollywood. In America he directed Maria's Lovers, Runaway Train and Tango & Cash.

With the onset of Perestroika and Glasnost in the mid-1980s, Soviet films emerged which began to address formerly censored topics, such as drug addiction, The Needle, and sexuality and alienation in Soviet society, Little Vera.

Several Soviet films have received Oscars; War and Peace, Dersu Uzala, Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears.

Some of the popular actors of the Soviet period were Innokenty Smoktunovsky, Oleg Yankovsky, Andrei Mironov, Nikita Mikhalkov, Vladimir Vysotsky, Vasily Lanovoy, Tatiana Samoilova, Margarita Terekhova, Barbara Brylska, Yelena Koreneva.

New Russian cinema[edit]

1990s[edit]

Russian cinema of the 90s acquired new features and themes. Many films of that time dealt with Stalinism.

The Chekist directed by Aleksandr Rogozhkin was a drama set in the period of Red Terror and told the story of a Cheka leader who gradually becomes unhinged. It was screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 1992 Cannes Film Festival.

The drama Burnt by the Sun (1994) by Nikita Mikhalkov is set in a small countryside community in the time when Stalinism starts to disrupt their idyllic retreat and alter their characters and fates. The film received an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film and the Grand Prix du Jury at the 1994 Cannes Film Festival.

In the context of the Russian World War II history Pavel Chukhrai filmed The Thief (1997), a movie about a mother who becomes romantically involved with a criminal who impersonates an officer. The film was awarded with 6 national prizes Nika, got a special prize in Venice and became the Oscar nominee.

The first commercially successful post-Soviet film was the crime drama Brother directed by Aleksei Balabanov. It was screened as part of the Un Certain Regard section at the 1997 Cannes Film Festival.

Valery Todorovsky's The Country of the Deaf (1998), a comedy film based on the screenplay by Renata Litvinova parodied Russia of the 90s. It described the journey of two female friends caught in the fight of two clans - the deaf and the hearing. It was entered in the 48th Berlin International Film Festival.

In 1997 Aleksandr Sokurov had his international breakthrough with the arthouse drama Mother and Son. It won the Special Silver St. George at the 20th Moscow International Film Festival in 1997.

1998 film Khrustalyov, My Car! directed by Aleksei German described the last days of Stalinist Russia. It was entered in the 1998 Cannes Film Festival.

Internationally co-produced film East/West (1999) starring Sandrine Bonnaire and Catherine Deneuve told the story of an emigre family living in Stalinist USSR.

Cult crime comedy 8 ½ $ (1999) starring Ivan Okhlobystin and Fyodor Bondarchuk was a satiric take on 1990s Russia. It told the story of a television advertisement director who becomes romantically involved with a gangster's girlfriend.

2000s[edit]

Night Watch poster

Andrey Zvyagintsev's The Return, a Golden Lion award recipient, shows two brothers' test of life when their father suddenly returns that reaches a deep almost-mystic pitch.

The Russian Ark, 2003 by Alexander Sokurov, was filmed in a single 96-minute shot in the Russian Hermitage Museum is a dream-like narration that tells about Classic Russian culture sailing in the Ark.

The Night Watch was one of the first blockbusters made after the collapse of the Soviet film industry, it was a 2004 supernatural thriller directed by Timur Bekmambetov starring Konstantin Khabensky based on the eponymous book by Sergei Lukyanenko. It is the first part of a trilogy, followed by Day Watch (2006) and ending supposedly with Twilight Watch.

The serialised novels by Boris Akunin set in pre-Revolutionary Russia evolve around fictional Erast Fandorin adventures in three popular movies: The Azazel, The Turkish Gambit and The State Counsellor.

Life of the Orthodox Monastery and their Christian miracles are described in the film The Island by Pavel Lungin. The film was screened out of the competition at the 63rd Venice International Film Festival and received the Golden Eagle and Nika awards.

One of Russia's all-time biggest box-office hits was Timur Bekmambetov's romantic-comedy The Irony of Fate 2, directed in 2007 as a sequel to the 1976 film.

2008 musical film Stilyagi, Hipsters directed by Valery Todorovsky about the youth lifestyle in the 1950s Soviet Union was a success at the box office. It received the Golden Eagle and Nika awards for best picture.

The most popular actors of the 2000s-2010s period are Konstantin Khabensky, Danila Kozlovsky, Sergey Bezrukov, Elizaveta Boyarskaya, Yevgeny Mironov, Ivan Okhlobystin and Fyodor Bondarchuk.

2010s[edit]

How I Ended This Summer by Alexei Popogrebski a film shot in remote Chukotka won Berlin's Film Festival Golden Bear in 2010.

The same year arthouse film Silent Souls won the Golden Osella at the Venice Film Festival for best cinematography.

One of the most successful movies made with Hollywood actors was the 2011 comedy Lucky Trouble where Milla Jovovich plays the female lead.

In recent years the most important Russian filmmaker to enter Hollywood is Timur Bekmambetov, a producer and directer of blockbuster films. In the United States he directed Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and Ben-Hur.

War epic Stalingrad directed by Fyodor Bondarchuk in 2013 set new box-office records in Russia and abroad.

In 2014, Andrey Zvyagintsev's Leviathan was entered in the 2014 Cannes Film Festival and nominated for best foreign picture at the 87th Academy Awards. It won the Golden Globe for best foreign language film.

Andrei Konchalovsky received the Silver Lion for best director at the 73rd Venice International Film Festival for his black and white Holocaust drama Paradise in 2016. He previously received the Silver Lion for The Postman's White Nights in 2014.

Disaster film Flight Crew, directed by Nikolay Lebedev with actor Danila Kozlovsky was a big success at the box-office in 2016.

Starting from 2003 Russia's animation industry began to manufacture films which are profitable domestically and abroad. Some of the pictures are The Snow Queen 1, 2, 3, Masha and the Bear, Kikoriki, Dobrynya Nikitich and Zmey Gorynych.

In the recent years many Russian films have gotten wide releases in China,[5][6][7] and there has been an increased amount of planned Russo-Chinese co-productions.[8] A few of the films produced by Russia and China are Viy, Viy 2: Journey to China starring Jackie Chan and Arnold Schwarzenegger,[9] The Snow Queen 3[10] and Quackerz.[11]

List of highest-grossing films[edit]

According to Kinopoisk.ru, highest grossing Russian films, as of early 2015, are the following:

Highest-grossing Russian films
Rank Title Gross Year Genre Details Director
1 Сталинград

Stalingrad

$68,075,573 2013 War A World War II film about Battle of Stalingrad Fyodor Bondarchuk
2 Ирония судьбы. Продолжение

Irony of Fate: The Sequel

$55,639,114 2007 Romantic comedy A Christmas film, the sequel to a 1976 film of the same name Timur Bekmambetov
3 Вий

Viy

$39 539 416 2014 Fantasy, Horror Based on a story of the same name by Nikolai Gogol, inspired by Slavic mythology Oleg Stepchenko
4 Дневной дозор

Day Watch

$38 862 717 2006 Fantasy Based on urban fantasy book series Dozory by Sergey Lukyanenko Timur Bekmambetov
5 Адмиралъ

Admiral

$38 135 878 2008 Biography, History About Russian Civil War monarchist leader, Admiral Alexander Kolchak Janik Fayziyev
6 Ёлки 3

Christmas Trees 3

$38 067 427 2013 Comedy A Christmas film Olga Kharina
7 Ночной дозор

Night Watch

$33 951 015 2004 Fantasy Based on urban fantasy book series Dozory by Sergey Lukyanenko Timur Bekmambetov
8 Три богатыря на дальних берегах

Three Knights at the Distant Shores

$31 505 876 2012 Animation, Fairy tale An interpretation of medieval Russian folklore Kostantin Feoktistov

(Melnitsa Animation)

9 Самый лучший фильм

The Best Movie

$30 496 695 2008 Comedy Spoofing famous Russian films and TV series Kirill Kuzin
10 Легенда №17

Legend № 17

$29 523 237 2013 Biography, Sport drama About Soviet hockey player, Valery Kharlamov Nikolai Lebedev
11 Обитаемый остров

The Inhabited Island

$27 908 763 2009 Science fiction Based on a dystopian book by Strugatsky brothers Fyodor Bondarchuk
12 Высоцкий. Спасибо, что живой

Vysotsky. Thank You For Being Alive

$27 544 905 2011 Biography, Drama About Soviet singer Vladimir Vysotsky Pyotr Buslov
13 Ёлки 2

Christmas Trees 2

$26 231 525 2011 Comedy A Christmas film Dmitry Kiselyov,

Alexander Kott and others

14 Викинг

Viking

$25,646,739 2016 History About Vladimir the Great Andrei Kravchuk
15 9 рота

The 9th Company

$25 555 809 2005 War About Soviet war in Afghanistan Fyodor Bondarchuk
16 Иван Царевич и серый волк

Prince Ivan and the Big Grey Wolf

$24 830 497 2011 Animation, Fairy tale An interpretation of medieval Russian folklore Vladimir Toropchin

(Melnitsa Animation)

17 Экипаж

Flight Crew

$23 305 571 2016 disaster film

Nikolai Lebedev

18 Ёлки

Christmas Trees

$22 772 019 2010 Comedy A Christmas film Timur Bekmambetov,

Dmitry Kiselyov and others

19 Наша Russia: Яйца судьбы

Our Russia and the Eggs of Destiny

$22 213 287 2010 Comedy Based on a TV show of the same name Gleb Orlov
20 Чёрная молния

Black Lightning

$21 500 000 2009 Superhero Timur Bekmambetov
21 Волкодав

Wolfhound

$21 015 154 2006 Fantasy Based on a medieval high fantasy book by Maria Semenova Nikolai Lebedev
22 Иван Царевич и Серый волк 2

Ivan Tsarevich and the Grey Wolf 2

$20 962 988 2013 Fantasy An interpretation of medieval Russian folklore Vladimir Toropchin
23 Три богатыря. Ход конём

Three heroes. Horse Course

$19 390 136 2015 Animation, Fairy tale An interpretation of medieval Russian folklore Konstantin Feoktistov

(Melnitsa Animation)

24 Три богатыря и Шамаханская царица

Three Knights and the Queen of Shаmakha

$19 010 585 2010 Animation, Fairy tale An interpretation of medieval Russian folklore Sergey Glezin

(Melnitsa Animation)

25 Турецкий гамбит

The Turkish Gambit

$18 500 000 2005 History, Spy Based on a book by Boris Akunin, about espionage at 19th-century Russo-Turkish war Janik Fayziyev
26 О чём ещё говорят мужчины

What Else Man Talk About

$17 808 683 2011 Comedy Starring comic group Quartet I, a sequel to What Men Talk About Dmitry Dyachenko
27 Тарас Бульба

Taras Bulba

$17 040 803 2009 History, Epic Based on a book by Nikolai Gogol, about Khmelnytsky Uprising in 17t-century Ukraine Vladimir Bortko

Most expensive Russian films[edit]

Below, is a list of the 10 most high-budget Russian films in the history of hire (excluding inflation). The figures given in the February 25, 2014.

# Title Year Budget, $
1 «Burnt By The Sun 2: Exodus And Citadel» 2011 45 000 000
2 «Burnt by the Sun 2» 2010 40 000 000
3 «The Inhabited Island» 2008 36 000 000
4 «The Barber of Siberia» 1998 35 000 000
5 «Stalingrad» 2013 30 000 000
6 «Viy» 2014 26 000 000
7 «Sunstroke» 2014 24 000 000
8 «Admiral» 2008 20 000 000
9 «August Eighth» 2012 19 000 000
10 «Mongol» 2007 18 000 000

Awards[edit]

Festivals[edit]

Notable Cinematography Schools[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "Statistics on the Russian cinema market" (PDF). Nevafilm Research. Retrieved 22 March 2017. 
  2. ^ "Table 8: Cinema Infrastructure - Capacity". UNESCO Institute for Statistics. Retrieved 5 November 2013. 
  3. ^ "Table 6: Share of Top 3 distributors (Excel)". UNESCO Institute for Statistics. Retrieved 5 November 2013. 
  4. ^ "Annual Report 2012/2013" (PDF). Union Internationale des Cinémas. Retrieved 10 November 2013. 
  5. ^ "Россия и Китай: делаем кино вместе" (in Russian). filmpro. 
  6. ^ Nick Holdsworth. "Russia's 'Stalingrad' Storms Chinese Box Office". Hollywood Reporter. 
  7. ^ "Russian fantasy film becomes box office hit in China". RT. 
  8. ^ "Россия и Китай договорились о ста совместных проектах в медиасфере". Ministry of Telecom and Mass Communications of the Russian Federation. 
  9. ^ Leo Barraclough. "Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jackie Chan Join Russian-Chinese Movie 'Viy-2'". Variety. 
  10. ^ Patrick Frater. "Russian and Chinese Companies to Co-Produce 'Snow Queen' Sequel". Variety. 
  11. ^ Vladimir Kozlov. "Russian Animated Film 'Quackerz 3D' Gets Investment From China". Hollywood Reporter. 
  12. ^ http://www.vgik.info/international/forprospectivestudents/index.php?SECTION_ID=685 Gerasimov Institute foundation history
  13. ^ http://www.nyfa.edu/moscow/ NYFA Moscow
  14. ^ http://www.mifs.ru/index_eng.html Moscow International Film School homepage, translated

External links[edit]