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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

'Captive' Screens at Cannes as Sole Russian Feature Film

The only Russian feature film in this year's Cannes festival program is Sergei Bodrov's powerful film about the Chechen war, "The Captive of the Caucasus."

The film, which was chosen for screening in the main festival program but not for the Palme d'Or competition, is a controversial and hard-hitting story of a disillusioned Russian soldier captured by Chechen rebels, starring Oleg Menshikov, who also played the lead in Nikita Mikhalkov's Oscar-winning "Burned by the Sun." The screenplay, by Arif Aliyev, attracted interest in Hollywood after winning an American-Russian screenwriting competition before being picked up by Bodrov. Bodrov's last film, the highly acclaimed "Ser," dealt with the similarly shocking themes of juvenile delinquency, despair and alienation.

In previous years there have been an average of three or four Russian films at Cannes, but this year "Captive of the Caucasus" was the only film selected by a Cannes festival representative on a yearly selection trip to Moscow at which Russia's best films are picked. Russian film industry insiders suggested that industry politics may be behind the poor representation of Russian films this year, blaming Nikita Mikhalkov's pique at not receiving a prize for his 1995 entry "Burned by the Sun" for an unfavorable reception.

"They had to include 'Captive of the Caucasus,'" said Mark Rudenshtein, organizer of the annual Sochi film festival, "because it would have been difficult to refuse such a good film."

This year is Bodrov's first appearance at Cannes, though the director is well established in the Russian film world. "Captive of the Caucasus," whose title echoes that of a poem by Pushkin, will premiere at the Dom Kino on May 29 at 7 p.m. (For details, call 251-5889.)

In the Short Film category, Russia was represented by "Attraction," a three-minute, animated film by novice director Alexei Dyemin. The film tells the story of three creatures who struggle to get a red flag to the top of a mountain in the face of a strong wind that constantly blows them back down again. Finally, they reach the top by balancing on each other, and the camera pans out to reveal hundreds of similar hills and creatures.

Despite being the 40-year-old director's first animated film, "Attraction" won first prize in the animation category at the St. Anne's competition organized by the Russian Union of Cinematographers earlier this year.

The film was well received at Cannes, said Alexander Gerasimov, director of the Shar studio where the film was made. "It was not the worst film," Gerasimov said, "and it received several dozen seconds of applause."

Gerasimov hopes that "Attraction" will be aired on Russian television in the next few months.