OPENING/CLOSING

 
The opening and closing films at international festivals in general (and the Moscow festival in particular) are always a lottery. 
 
On the one hand producers are always eager to use the opportunity. The hall will be packed with famous personalities and influential people (filmmakers as well as politicians and money-mongers), the attention of the press and publicity are guaranteed. On the other hand the ceremony itself may end up in the centre of attention, people may start leaving the hall during the screening. And if there is a negative reaction, the news will spread much faster than if the reaction is positive.
 
The thing is that these key festival events should comply with too many demands and sometimes the pressure becomes unbearable. The movie should not be “dull”, i.e. “serious”, which is by definition the category to which the best festival films belong. It must be of high artistic quality, but the motley audience has very different notions of what a “good movie” is. It must be spectacular and in-depth. Ideally the opening movie should be directed, written, designed or performed by some great master who receives the prize “For the contribution”, and the closing movie should feature the recipient of the “I Believe” award. The films should be not merely new, but the newest and should satisfy everybody’s tastes, which is impossible by definition.
 
But it is a well-known fact that the impossible is sometimes possible. Successful examples are such dissimilar movies as “The Romanovs: An Imperial Family” and “Kill Bill 2”. “Night Watch” also began its triumphant march across the country and the world from the MIFF.
 
At the same time the enclosing films usually manage to solve only a couple of important problems. Thus “Transformers” were a world Hollywood premiere but catered mostly to teenagers who are poorly represented at official ceremonies. “Hancock”  ensured the presence of Will Smith and Charlize Theron at the opening ceremony, while “Les bien-aimés” provided a chance to see the latest work of Catherine Deneuve immediately after she received the Stanislavsky Award (the host of the ceremony was the only one who did not know about it, which caused a fruitful uproar in the press). Despite the indignation of several critics (or thanks to it) the success of the movie “Soulless” with the audience was provoked by its screening at the opening ceremony of the Festival. The screening at the opening ceremony in 2014 of Gabe Polsky’s “Red Army” caused a wave of excitement especially when Viacheslav Fetisov, the legendary Soviet hockey player, walked along the Red Carpet. He was a real star of this unusual and very entertaining film. The Festival closed with the screening of the equally resonant premiere of “Rasputin”. The ensuing press-conference brought together the outstanding French actor Gerard Depardieu and Filipp Yankovsky, the heir to the glorious acting family of the Yankovskys. In 2015 the Russian premiere of “The Wolf Totem” was preceded by the decision to award the Prize for the Contribution to Cinema to its author, the prominent French filmmaker Jean-Jacques Annaud. What will be the results of this year’s lottery? As usual we will learn about it in June.