Ten contemporary Russian films have arrived on BFI Player today as part of the inaugural UK edition of the Russian Film Festival, running from 12 November to 10 December.

The Russian Film Festival (RFF) was launched in 2020 and has already been successfully held in 16 countries, with more than 200,000 viewers. It’s organised by ROSKINO, a state organisation representing the Russian audiovisual content industry internationally with the support of the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation and the Russian Cinema Fund.

Ten notable contemporary Russian films across various genres will be available to watch on BFI Player Subscription with English subtitles. New customers can enjoy the festival films as part of an extended Subscription free trial using the voucher code RFF21

The selection for RFF UK includes:

Masha

This crime drama and debut feature by Anastasiya Palchikova was produced by the creators of the successful series To the Lake (top 10 on Netflix in more than 60 countries). It tells a story about Masha whose world is unexpectedly shattered when she learns a criminal truth about her friends. In 2021 the distribution rights of the movie were acquired by HBO.

Conscience

A crime drama directed by Aleksey Kozlov, Conscience takes place in the troublesome early 1920s during a political crisis in Russia. The main character investigates the death of his brother and gets involved in much bigger police mysteries. The film won three awards at the 24th Shanghai International Film Festival.

A Siege Diary

Andrey Zaitsev took home the best director award from the 11th Beijing Film Festival for this war drama. Brought to life with masterful cinematography and immersive storytelling, the plot revolves around different fates and events during the siege of Leningrad in 1942. 

Last ‘Dear Bulgary’ 

Aleksey Fedorchenko’s comedy drama takes place in 1943. A young fruit grower revives a medicinal variety of apples and investigates a strange crime. The script is based on the novel by the famous Russian satirist Mikhail Zoshchenko, Before Sunrise, which was published for the first time in 1973, 40 years after its completion in the US due to the author’s political stance.    

Tell Her

This family drama has autobiographical roots for its young director, Alexander Molochnikov, whose own parents have also struggled with divorce and parenting across two countries: Russia and USA. This story is about choice and independence, family ties and disconnection.

The Bolshoi

Valery Todorovsky’s dance drama follows an aspiring ballet dancer from a provincial city to the stage of the famous Bolshoi Theatre. The shooting took place on the theatre’s lavish stage with dozens of professional dancers involved. The beauty of the ballet is captured by Sergey Mikhalchuk’s stunning camerawork, which won best cinematography at the San Sebastian Film Festival. The Bolshoi was also part of the programme of RFF 2020 (held in four countries) and became the most watched film.

Doctor Liza

Doctor Liza was a nickname for Russian philanthropist Elizaveta Glinka who helped many in need. She is the founder of the Doctor Liza’s Charity Foundation, an organisation that has gathered millions of rubles in humanitarian aid throughout the years. This biographical drama is directed by Oksana Karas with a star cast including Chulpan Khamatova and Konstantin Khabensky.

The Humorist 

Mikhail Idov’s directorial debut is about both the creative crisis of a popular Soviet comedian played by Aleksey Agranovich, who also stars in Doctor Liza. He affectingly portrays an artist on the verge of a breakdown. Idov also wrote the screenplay for Kirill Serebrennikov’s Leto, which was selected for official competition at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival.

The Story of an Appointment

The Story of an Appointment is based on real events involving Count Leo Tolstoy, in which the War and Peace author helped an innocent soldier avoid execution for a crime he didn’t commit. This story of bravery and kindness from award-winning Russian director Avdotya Smirnova has already won the hearts of the Russian audience.

Stanislavski. Lust for Life

Shot in Russia, the UK and the USA, Julia Bobkova’s documentary is a portrait of the life and talent of Konstantin Stanislavski, the famous Soviet theatre practitioner and the originator of Stanislavski’s ‘system’ of acting. The movie encapsulates his life through the words of various directors and artists, including British talents Declan Donnellan and Katie Mitchell.