20 cinematic declarations of love for the Russian capital… this is the idea behind a collective film project being completed in Russia. The first prints of the full-length feature Moscow, I Love You! shall be complete next year. Directors and screenwriters from Russia and throughout the CIS, spanning several generations of cinematic development, are participating in the project. There are masters amonst them, for instance, Georgy Natanson and is colleagues Irakli Kvirikadze (Georgia) and Rustam Ibragimbekov (Azerbaijan). Conversely, new faces are taking part as well, including the director Artyom Mikhalkov and Yekaterina Dvigubskaya.
“Each [contributor] creates his own five-minute story, and all of these individual stories shall make up a film history of Moscow and its people”, explained Yegor Konchalovsky, the producer of the film and one of its directors. “Every story should contain an optimistic and positive message. I cannot say that our film is a systematic, self-conscious, and complete panorama [of the city]. Rather, it is an anthology that builds upon different views of aesthetics, production methods, and editing. Each director has his own set of actors; each has complete artistic control of his segment. There are several camera crews and scenery artists working on the film, and 17 composers are involved as well. However, this effort is not a reduction to a ‘lowest common denominator’”.
The idea of a cinematic anthology, which unites the creative efforts of several directors on the same theme, is not a new one, but, it is usually interesting. For example, we see this in the French films Boccaccio-70 and Three Steps in to Delirium and the work of the German director Wim Wenders and eight of his associates, Ten Minutes Older. Wenders borrowed not only the concept, but, the name from two Soviet directors. The same principle is at work in the film Paris, I Love You! This was shot by twenty different cameramen from around the world, and the same sort of project is being filmed in New York now, as we speak.
Moscow, from the beginning of the 1920s onward, attracted cameramen like a magnet. Many documentaries were shot here, including those produced by foreign crews. It has been used as the backdrop for numerous movies, creating much sympathy, even tenderness for the Russian capital. We see this in the Japanese-Soviet film Moscow, My Love and the Russian films I Step Through Moscow (1963) and Moscow does not Believe in Tears (1979). The last movie received an Oscar as the best foreign film in 1980.
As of today, 16 of the episodes of the film Moscow, I Love You! are complete. This is the greater part of the project. However, the final edit shall also have a prologue, epilogue, and several bridge-segments. The creators of the concept say that this shall maximise the active participation of the audience in this unusual cinematographic production, as it shall fill it with a variety of subjects and themes.
1 August 2008
Voice of Russia World Service