Voices from Russia

Saturday, 2 August 2008

“Moscow, I Love You!”

Filed under: cinema,cultural,performing arts,Russian — 01varvara @ 00.00

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

Olga Bugrova

Voice of Russia World Service



The Cultural Programme at the Olympics is as important as the Athletics

Vitas (Vitaly Grachkov) (1981- ), Russian pop star who is going to perform at the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Games

The first group of Russian athletes has flown to Beijing. In their wake, Aeroflot shall also fly in a broadly-based delegation of Russian artists and performers, who shall be in Beijing during the entire Olympiad to support our team in its quest for the gold. “A Little Piece of Russia in China” is what people are already calling the spot in a picturesque suburb of Beijing, set in a block done in an old European style, where the official residence of the Russian National Olympic Committee was arranged. It is also called “The House of the Friends of the Olympiad”. Everyone who comes here during the days of the Olympic competitions shall certainly feel its friendly and cheerful atmosphere. Specifically, to support our athletes, and in order to showcase our rich Russian culture in a fitting and spiritual manner, artists of various sorts are going to Beijing too. Every evening there shall be various kinds of cultural programmes held on the lawn of the residence and in the building as well. “The performances of the artists are an important component of the contemporary Olympic movement”, said Yevgeny Ponasenkov, the director of the Russian cultural programme at the Beijing Olympics, in an interview with VOR.

“One should remember that in the ancient Olympic Games of classical Greece there were not only athletic contests [such as the pankration (a no-holds-barred barroom-style fight where the only winner lived (literally): editor’s note)], there were also competitions of poets, philosophers, and artists that were held in equal regard to the athletics. The man who founded the modern Olympic movement, Pierre Frédy, Baron de Coubertin, wished to revive this tradition in all of its fullness. Indeed, through their performances, the artists shall transfer the spark of their skill to the Olympians. When an athlete sees a ballerina take a flying leap over the stage or hears a singer ‘take’ a high note, they shall be inspired to do likewise. Our art… it’s the only drug that we’re going to give our athletes”, Mr Ponasenkov said.

Maria Gulegina (1959- ) (right), performing in Verdi’s Aida

Famous Russian performers shall present programmes together with their Chinese colleagues. We shall see the entire spectrum of Russian ballet from the legendary Maya Plisetskaya to the fresh new talent of Artyom Shpilevsky, and such operatic greats as Olga Borodina, Maria Gulegina, and Oleg Ryabets, perform together with Chinese orchestras. The pop singer Anita Tsoi shall focus her entire presentation on traditional Chinese paper dragons and globes.

Amongst the ranks of the Russian pop stars coming to perform, many are friends of the athletes, and some are even their relatives. For instance, the opening concert of “The House of the Friends of the Olympiad” shall begin with a performance by pop singer Yuliya Nachalova, who is the wife of Yevgeny Aldonin, one of the best-known Russian football players.

2 August 2008

Larissa Roshchina

Galina Avdeyeva

Voice of Russia World Service


Editor’s Note:

Dancers of the ballet troupe of the Mariinsky Theatre, St Petersburg

In Russia, an Honoured Artist* and an Honoured Trainer of Sport or Honoured Sportsman have equal honour and respect. In fact, there is more respect given to such professions as academicians or soldiers than there is here in the USA. Interestingly enough, lawyers are NOT held in high repute, neither are psychologists. However, it is safe to say that Russia and China are going to give a larger input into the cultural side of the Olympics than the USA is going to. That says a great deal, both about this country and some American performing artists…

By the way, in reply to someone posting on an earlier post of mine on culture and the Olympics, Russians are not “totalitarians”. They are the representatives of a free and vigorous culture, one that is not Western. It would be best if Americans stopped using this term… what it truly means is “someone who refuses to kowtow to Americans in public at high noon”. Grow up…

*In Russian usage, “Artist” means an actor/actress, dancer, or musician. “Artists” in the English usage are called “Painters” or “Sculptors”. Thus, Maya Plisetskaya is an Honoured Artist of Russia, whereas Ilya Glazunov is an Honoured Painter of Russia.

Natalia Moskvina: “I Dream Of Composing a Romance”

Filed under: art music,cultural,performing arts,Russian — 01varvara @ 00.00

A new disc recorded by young singer Natalia Moskvina was added to the popular series, A Golden Collection of Romances. Not every singer has the courage to perform songs full of romanticism, which, unfortunately, is gradually fading from our lives. Natalia also needed some time to summon her courage. Finally, it turned out that the elegant short-haired blonde feels herself at home in both the delicate genre of romance and pop-music.

I couldn’t find any videos of this artist… so, here’s a Russian romance

Natalia’s way to singing was long. When she was a child, she lived in the Siberian city of Orenburg and dreamt of becoming a pianist; she was fond of the theatre and the ballet, and she wrote fairy-tales, which are still kept by her parents. Later, she took the risk of coming to Moscow. At her entrance examination to the Gnessin Academy of Music, she sang Paris Tango in French to her own accompaniment on the piano. Only by chance did Natalia, who was completely engrossed in pop and rock music, turn to romances. She told us about it with a warm feeling. “During a concert in France, the electronic accompaniment suddenly switched off. I had to sing without accompaniment. The first composition I thought of was the old romance Chrysanthemums. By the way, later, it was translated into French for me. I always dreamt of singing romances, but, didn’t have the courage to try it. I needed something to encourage me”.

Here is a performance of Chrysanthemums

She recorded a disc of 15 Russian romances. This repertoire can hardly keep a singer afloat in the 21st-century music business. But, Natalia does not share this view. She said, “Romance comes to the very heart of man. I cannot say why, but, teenagers and young people also love this remarkable genre. I know that my disc of romances is very popular among younger people. Just think of the success of Russian romances abroad, even though foreigners do not understand Russian. Yet, they listen holding their breath. Just fancy! I have a long-cherished dream of composing a romance, something similar to Misty Morning. But, so far, I do not have any words for it, yet”.

Here is a romance sung by the basso profundo Vladimir Miller

30 July 2008

Voice of Russia World Service


USA Lobbies for the Further Enlargement of NATO

Jaap de Hoop Scheffer (1948- ), Secretary General of NATO. He believes that “the Ukraine and Georgia are not ready for NATO membership”.

On Wednesday, the House of Representatives of the American Congress passed a resolution expressing support for plans envisaging the enlargement of NATO. Furthermore, the resolution said that only members of NATO were privileged to vote for or against the admission of new members. The passage of this resolution means both Houses of Congress favour the earliest admission of the Ukraine and Georgia to NATO. As a matter of fact, this is what the resolution of the House of Representatives meant, for the Senate adopted this same resolution last February. The American lawmakers are, as a matter of fact, trying to make sure that the next conference of NATO foreign ministers in December allows the Ukraine and Georgia to join the NATO Membership Action Plan, which is the first step to full-fledged membership in the alliance. Let me remind you, though, that neither the Ukraine nor Georgia was allowed to join that plan last April, when a NATO summit conference was held.

Let me point out that Congressional decisions are advisory and have no binding force. The lawmakers may only render moral support to the Bush Administration that, with or without their support, has been assiduously doing its best to pull the Ukraine and Georgia into the orbit of NATO. Lamentably, Washington has done this in the face of important facts that weaken their position. For example, 70 percent of Ukrainians and most Georgians are against NATO membership. Furthermore, quite a few European states doubt the advisability of Ukrainian and Georgian membership in NATO. Therefore, last February, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, the Secretary General of NATO, said that the alliance was not ready to set a date for the admission of the Ukraine and Georgia. Besides, it is quite obvious that neither of those two countries is ready to join NATO. Moreover, there is another very important consideration. Russia has always, persistently, and with much good-sense, raised objections to the eastwards expansion of NATO by accepting the Ukraine and Georgia as members of the bloc.

Naturally, Moscow understands it has no right to vote for or against Ukrainian and Georgian membership in NATO. However, Brussels and Washington ought to understand that the problem in question boils down to continental security. It is indivisible and cannot be settled at the expense of anyone. Indeed, they must understand that the point of view they must take into consideration is that of a permanent member of the Security Council of the United Nations, a major nuclear power, and a major pillar of continental and global security.

Not only between decent people, but, also between any two states, let alone allies, it is normal practice to take into account each other’s points of view. Otherwise, the disregard by the USA and NATO of the Russian point of view reduces to nil all their verbal expressions of desire to maintain good relations with Russia. If NATO ignores the opinion of Moscow vis-à-vis the eastwards expansion of the alliance by accepting Ukrainian and Georgian membership in NATO, Russia will be forced to offer an adequate response to the expansion of NATO. Moreover, there are very many things it can do about the matter. Much has been lately said about this.

31 July 2008

Viktor Yenikeyev

Voice of Russia World Service


Editor’s Note:

It would be best if the USA stopped giving empty guarantees that it cannot honour. The present crippling budget deficits and the war-weariness of the American forces make any future military operations problematical, at best. Any force that has stop-loss orders in effect is low in morale. That is, personnel are being kept in service beyond their estimated date of separation, with the concurrent drop in both keenness and spirit. If such forces were to land in the Baltics or the Ukraine and suffer a Grad barrage, they would fall apart. Do not forget that the US Army has not faced a peer-force since the end of the Korean War. Sadly, I believe that hubristic US politicians are going to lead their forces to a new Chosin Reservoir… Let no American soldier die “for a bridge too far”.


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