Red Army Star on Ice as Moscow Film Festival Opens

The men from the Red Army hockey team, the subject of the documentary.

The Moscow Film Festival opens Thursday with a showing of "Red Army," a critically acclaimed documentary about the great 1980s CSKA hockey team.

Executive produced by Werner Herzog, the film, directed by Gabriel Polsky is "a playful documentary about … an all-conquering machine schooled under military training-camp conditions as an ideological propaganda weapon" according to Hollywood Reporter.

The film is told through the eyes of Vyacheslav Fetisov, who would late go to the NHL and win the Stanley Cup with the Detroit Red Wings and is now a senator in the Federation Council.

The Moscow Film Festival does not have the cache of the big European film festivals like Cannes, Berlin or Vienna but there is always something to interest film fans, The competition section has some interesting entries including "A Most Wanted Man," an adaptation of the John Le Carre spy thriller about a half-Chechen, half Russian immigrant, which stars the late Philip Seymour Hoffman and Robin Wright plus the latest film of Valeriya Gai Germanika, "Yes and Yes" about a love affair between a painter and a teacher, the enfant terrible of the Russian film world.

Veteran director Gleb Panfilov will head the jury and the festival will also show some of his most famous films like "No Path Through Fire," from 1967, which, as with much of his work, starred his wife Inna Chirikova.

Outside the competition section, the festival shows a mix of the mainstream, shorts, documentaries classics and movies that would never normally get past the strict face control of Moscow's multiplexes.

One section brings together different films about Russian art. Among those showing is a documentary about Oleg Kulik, the man who despite decades of art is always be referred to as that guy who pretended to be a dog in the 1990s, so why break the habit, and "A House on Furmanny," which looks at the first Moscow squat that appeared in the late 1980s.

There is also a chance to see some of Britain's most beloved films in a retrospective devoted to Ealing Studios. "The Lady Killers," "Kind Hearts and Coronets," "Passport to Pimlico" and "The Lavender Hill Mob" are among the nine films being shown.

The festival has reportedly suffered from the backlash against Russia because of the crisis in Ukraine with fewer foreign guests, Russian media reported. The festival did not respond to requests for comments but there will still be some stars in Moscow. Cast members from the hit HBO series "Game of Thrones," including Maisie Williams, who plays Arya Stark, the tomboy killer who is one of the series most popular characters, and Kristian Nairn, who plays the one word character of Hodor, are set to attend the opening.

Krzystof Zanussi, the Polish director who celebrates his 75th birthday this week, is also expected as the festival puts on a retrospective of his films.

The festival, which usually awards a lifetime achievement award to a legendary cinematic figure at its closing ceremony — recent recipients have included Jack Nicholson, Fanny Ardant and Harvey Keitel — will finish with a screening of the Hollywood blockbuster "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes."

All of the films are shown in their original language with Russian subtitles. Most films are being shown at the Oktyabr Cinema on Novy Arbat.

See www.moscowfilmfestival.ru for the full timetable.

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