New Wave in Moscow

2morrow.ruPetr Zelenka's "The Brothers Karamazov" is one of the films on during 2tomorrow2.
Russian audiences will get a welcome dose of world independent cinema with the "2morrow2" festival that runs in Moscow October 17-20. The slant is on what programmer Alexei Medvedev calls "new wave" cinema.

Organized by Interfest, which until two years ago was the long-term custodian of the Moscow International Film Festival (MIFF), 2morrow2 will inevitably face comparison with MIFF, especially as curator Medvedev was also long involved in that venture.

"2morrow2" is modest enough in its aims, only showing at 35mm, a two-screen venue. Reaction to "2morrow2" from local critics this year has been positive.

"This looks like the best international festival Moscow will see this year," said Sergei Nekrasov, managing editor of local film trade publication "Russian Film Business Today."

That may sound like an exaggeration, but "2Morrow2" has the fresh energy of a startup and a particularly defined direction, against MIFF's venerable but occasionally somewhat weary profile. The presence of a bloggers' jury hints at such new directions.

Though it's compact enough and runs over little more than a long weekend, it has a competition program of 11 movies, alongside 11 out-of-competition films and six gala screenings; the selection looks divided roughly between North America, Europe, especially Eastern Europe, and Asia.

Trans-atlantic competition visitors include Bill Plympton's part-animated "Idiots and Angels," Canada's Guy Maddin with "My Winnipeg" (the director is one of the most distinctive individuals on the international production scene, and in his new film he revisits his native city with a combination of animation, archive and reconstruction film material), and Ramin Bahrani with "Chop Shop." The main Russian entry in that program is Valeria Gai Germanica's soon-to-be-released teenage drama, "Everyone Dies But Me."

There's a "Midnight Music" section (including a British tribute to legendary 1980s Manchester band Joy Division) which should bring early hours music energy, alongside a retrospective of early Lithuanian master animator Ladislas Starevitch, who specialized in the early 1910s in animating insects.
Guy maddin's "My winnipeg," is one of the films on during 2tomorrow2.

A final section, "On a Shoe String" is particularly representative, Medvedev says, comprising films made in the almost "no-budget" category.

The jury is headed by U.S. director Abel Ferrara, whose "Chelsea on the Rocks," a tribute to New York's legendary Chelsea hotel, screens out of competition.

He is supported by Holland's Anton Corbijn, Czech actress Anna Geislerova, controversial Russian novelist Vladimir Sorokin, and young Russian director Boris Khlebnikov ("Roads to Koktebel").

A similar literary bias is also visible on the program, with adaptations of Russian classics featuring prominently. The opening picture is Czech writer Petr Zelenka's "The Karamazovs", based on the Dostoevsky novel, but transposed into a contemporary East European environment, coupled with a French adaptation of the same writer's "The Idiot" by Pierre Leon. An Armenian short version of Lev Tolstoy's "Anna Karenina" completes the local literary bill.

The festival is sponsored again by Audi Russia and the willingness of a sponsor to experiment beyond usual lines looks fortuitous Ц not least because the wider independent film distribution scene is in a precarious state here.

"A few years ago, at the beginning of the decade, we thought that the general rise in cinema activity in Russia Ц the increase in numbers of screens, box office, and the like Ц would bring a knock-on effect for the independent sector. It hasn't happened, sadly, and the perspective every year comes to look bleaker," said Medvedev. "All the more reason to savour this particular festival while it's around."

Top prize money, which was $100,000 last year, and went to Irish director John Carney for his film "Once," is down to $50,000 for this year's festival -- but that's still an impressive enough prize pool to make the event attractive internationally.

"It was not only luck that we started this project up, but also a shared understanding of something that we are all passionate about," said Audi Russia's director Till Brauner.

The festival grew after Brauner and acclaimed local director Ivan Dykhovichny ("Inhale. Exhale") got to know each other.

"I think last year was a miracle, and despite the economic situation we're repeating it now," Dykhovichny said. "We thought there was no audience for such kinds of film -- the problematic, those in an auteur style Ц but we found that what affects the human emotions attracted largely packed houses."