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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Long-Time Director German Snags 5 Nika Awards

Veteran director Alexei German cleaned up at the 13th Nika film awards, winning five of the coveted statuettes of the Greek goddess of victory for "Khrustalyov, My Car!" - a black-and-white film that follows the fortunes of a high-ranking army doctor arrested in 1953, only to be released to treat Stalin on his deathbed.

At the Russian Academy of Motion Picture Arts' annual awards ceremony on Saturday, "Khrustalyov" won Nikas for best film, cinematography, costumes and design, with German himself taking out best director.

Described as "anti-spectator and high art" by one critic, "Khrustalyov" was seven years in the making. The title is a quote from secretpolice chief Lavrenty Beria to his chauffeur upon realizing that Stalin was dead.

The two main rivals for the best film award - multi-million dollar blockbuster "The Barber of Siberia" and "Molokh," a day in the life of Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun that won a prize for best screenplay at last year's Cannes festival - were missing from the award ceremony. Directors Nikita Mikhalkov and Alexander Sukorov refused to allow their films to be considered.

"Khrustalyov" received a tepid reception in 1998 when it premiered at the Cannes festival, and half the audience walked out.

Critics have since changed their minds about "Khrustalyov." So has the public, according to German, who told local media the film is playing five times a day to sellout crowds in St. Petersburg.

However, the film has yet to be widely distributed in Russia - only four prints of "Khrustalyov" have been made because of a lack of funds.

The director also found time at the ceremony to complain that his film didn't win more awards.

Few of the critics in the press were impressed with the awards that went to other films, with those given to "Barak" - a portrayal of the tough life families had when living in army barracks after the end of World War II - coming in for plenty of scorn. Valery Ogorodnikov's melodrama received two Nikas - Nina Usatova for best actress and Leonid Yarmolnik for best supporting actor.

More popular was the best-actor award given to Mikhail Ulyanov as the vengeful pensioner who goes after his granddaughter's rapist's in Stanislav Gororukhin's "The Sharpshooter."

The decision to give Valery Priyemykhov best screenplay for "Who, If Not Us?" was also not universally popular. 'The subject was banal ... and the dialogue not overblessed with wit," wrote Segodnya's critic Viktoria Nikiforova.