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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Film Festival Off to Inauspicious Start

The 18th Moscow International Film Festival, plagued by organizational difficulties, got off to a shaky start when only one of the two films scheduled for the opening was actually screened.


While the British entry for the festival, Richard Attenborough's "Chaplin", was shown to the packed auditorium Thursday at the Central Festival Hall in the Rossiya Hotel, "Children of the Iron Gods" by the Russian director Tomas Tot never materialized on the screen.


"Chaplin", starring Robert Downey Jr. , was well received by the audience. But spectators were later left waiting, wondering what was happening, as bemused ushers repeated: "That's it. They say there's only going to be one film".


Asked Friday morning about the confusion, the film festival's press department said that the schedule had been changed at short notice, but gave no reason.


The speeches given by the event's organizers at the beginning of the evening hinted at the problems the festival had experienced even before the opening.


"I welcome all those who have wished us well", said Armen Medvedev, president of the State Cinematography Committee. "And for those who did not want us to succeed, I invite them to watch", he said.


The major American studios boycotted the festival en masse to protest copyright infringements in Russia, and as recently as two weeks ago there were rumors in the Russian press that the festival might have to be canceled due to financial difficulties.


Mayor Yury Luzhkov, in a letter read out by his deputy, Viktor Korobchenko, congratulated organizers on getting the event off the ground "despite the problems and complications". The opening gala was subdued, with many television cameras but few movie stars.


The official competition, which lasts 12 days, includes 22 films from 20 countries - Italy and Russia have each submitted two films. Two films will be shown in the vast Central Festival Hall every evening, starting at 7: 30 P. M. , until July 12. Many other films are being screened outside the official competition.


The jury, headed by French director Claude Lelouche, includes the British actress Tilda Swinton, whose film "Orlando" was filmed in Uzbekistan and Russia; the Israeli actress Gila Almagor; the Russian director Pavel Lungin, maker of "Taxi Blues" and "Luna Park"; and the Polish director/producer Jacek Bromsky.