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BFI Kino: London goes crazy for Russian Films

2011 is possibly the best ever year for a Russian film lover to be in London. Why? Because the British Film Institute has just launched an epic seven month season of Russian films.

Kino: Russian Film Pioneers

Already up and running, the Kino segment will focus on the best of early Russian film. A newly remastered and re-scored version of Eisenstein’s Battleship Potemkin forms the centrepiece of this first part of the season – you can see some of what they’ve done in the trailer below.

Not content with re-recording the score for Potemkin, they’ve gone one better with The Old and the New. No score was ever produced for this Eisenstein film – all that exists are a few scribbled notes left by Eisenstein. So, working with Max De Wardener, Ed Finnis and the Elysian Quartet, they’ve created a whole new score based on his notes, and premiered it live at a special screening on 5th May.

You can read a great roundup of all the films in the Kino segment over at Silent London. You can also find more information at the Kino homepage, or on the Kino Facebook page.


July will bring the beginning of the two month BFI Kosmos Russian Film season. As the name implies, it’ll be all about space with a mixture of documentary films about Yuri Gagarin and Russian Science Fiction classics. A BFI press release lists some of the films we can look forward to:

Kurt Maetzig’s classic The Silent Star (1958) was adapted from a novel by Stanislaw Lem and follows an international expedition to Venus, set in 1985, whilst in Icarus XB1 (1963), by Jindrich Polák, cosmonauts, who dress in black-tie for cocktail parties, search for life on distant planets. The season would not be complete without both Solaris (1972) and Stalker (1979) by Andrei Tarkovsky, probably the best known titles in the West from this period.

Despite being both a SF fan and a Russia geek, I haven’t heard of half of these films – I have to say, though, that the one about the cocktail party cosmonauts sounds like a hoot.

Aleksandr Sokurov

Finally, in November and December 2011, the BFI Russian season will finish off with a retrospective of Russian film director Aleksandr Sokurov’s work. Sokurov is most well known, of course, for Russian Ark – the film set in the Hermitage that was shot in one looooooooooooooong take. Details of this season are a little less rounded that the two preceding seasons but its expected that films of his including Father and Son, Mother and Son, Taurus and Alexandra will be shown.

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