Monday, August 31, 2015


Дорога На Берлин

2015, Colour, Russia, 82 minutes, World Competition 

Production Team:

Director : Sergei Popov
Screenwriter : Emmanuil Kazakevich, Evgeniy Nikishov
Cinematographer : Shandor Berkershi
Editor : Olga Kolesnikova
Cast : Amir Abdykalov, Yuriy Borisov, Maksim Demcherko, Andrey Deyugin, Artem Lebedev
Music : Roman Dormidoshin
Film production and Sales Prod.: Aleksandr Litvinov, Karen Shakhnazarov, "Mosfilm" Cinema Concern, 1 Mosfilmovskaya Street Moscou 119991 (Russie), tél.: 0074991439700 / 0079857675796,

The film won the Ecumenical Jury Mention at the Montreal World Film Festival 2015, on September 7, 2015. 

The plot of the film On the Road to Berlin is based on the story by Emmanuel Kazakevich Two in the Wilderness (in Russian Двое в степи), and war diaries of Konstantin Simonov. It shows the heroism of Russian solders who at the beginning of the World War II had to face German tanks just with ordinary rifles or even hand guns, as the Soviet army was ill equipped and unprepared for the war, and who were ordered to get up and attack the approaching enemy tanks when it was quite obvious they could not possibly cause any harm to the heavily armoured German military machinery. 

But the film is much more than just about that. It is about how the real courage grows little by little in a young man who for the first time faces the terrible realities of war. It is also about a true friendships that develops under the most difficult circumstances when a soldier is under a court marshal order to be guarded and to be delivered to the army headquarters to be executed. It is also about a soldier's honour and the responsibility to keep orders no matter what, and about how the honesty and the playing of one's life cards all above the board bears good fruit. So the reach of the movie is much wider than just illustrating the far gone war circumstances. It has an emotional and moral impact even on our present life.

The strength of soldiers' character portray the inner resolve that had for ages puzzled those who went to conquer Russia, even when much better equipped than the Russians or having a considerably larger army. Time after time, the ill prepared Russian army had to retreat as far inland as Moscow, and even to surrender its capital city as what happened with Napoleon. Yet the Russian spirit at some stage would always pick up its force, gather the inner and physical strength, and totally defeat the enemy. 

As I was leaving the projection hall, I heard a lady from the audience to utter this comment, "Those Russians! They really react differently!" Go see the film, it might help you to understand better the Russian enigma.

Film's Official Synopsis:

"It is the summer of 1942. It is the thick of World War II and the bitter battle for Stalingrad is underway. The young lieutenant Ogarkov, a communications officer, is given important instructions -- to convey command orders about redeployment for the 341st division. In the confusion of an advance to the rear and localized fighting, the lieutenant does not deliver the orders and as a result the division ends up surrounded. A military tribunal court martials Ogarkov and sentences him to death by firing squad. Before the sentence can be carried out the convict is assigned to an escort - the Kazakh Dzurabaev. But due to a surprise attack by the Germans the execution of the sentence is delayed. The escort and the convict remain alone and together they must overcome obstacles and make their way to headquarters. In spite of it all, a silent friendship develops between the convicted man and his escort. Together they break through the encirclement, they do battle against the Germans and they even are awarded the highest honor - the commendation of the Order of the Red Star. But the death sentence was never rescinded and the road leads the new heroes to staff headquarters..."


Born in Moscow in 1974, Sergei Popov graduated from VGIK, the celebrated Russian film school and soon began directing television series, starting with New Era (2002-2003). Other TV dramas quickly followed: Icon’s Hunters (2004), Friend or Foe (2005), Goddess (2007), Cold Sun (2008), I’m Looking for You (2009), The Wish (2009). His big screen credits include THE GAP (2001), TRUE LOVE (2012) and THURSDAY, THE 12TH (2012). 

Film Projections

Sunday August 30, 2015 - 11:30 AM - CINÉMA IMPÉRIAL
Sunday August 30, 2015 - 04:30 PM - CINÉMA IMPÉRIAL

Images courtesy of the Director of the film.
Film review © 2015 Nadia Slejskova  

Sunday, August 30, 2015

MWFF 2015 SOUL OF A SPY - Press Conference

The Soul of a Spy Press Conference
August 29, 2015

The Montreal World Film Festival organizes Press Conferences for films that are in the World Competition. DUSHA SHPIONA / THE SOUL OF A SPY had two representatives from the film's production team attending the festival. Both were present at the press conference to answer questions from the journalists and the general audience. They were the film's director Vladimir Bortko, and the film's cinematographer, the director of the photography Elena Ivanova.

Vladimir Bortko does not only direct films, he is also a representative of the Russian government, a member of the Russian State Duma, which is the lower house of the Federal Assembly of Russia (legislature). When I asked him whether it was hard to combine those two responsibilities, his simple answer was, "Yes, it us difficult." 

Botko has a very personal approach to his cinematographic work. He stated it was not something outside of him but came from within himself, from his own inner quest of searching for what was right or wrong to do in his own life or in his parliamentary duties. Each time he is involved in supporting or working on a new legislation, he always asks himself what if the opposition that does not want that particular bill to be passed is correct? It then becomes a decision based on his firm understanding as to what would truly benefit Russia - his Fatherland, called in Russian the Motherland. 

It was remarked at the conference that each location portrayed in the film had its own special and very specific atmosphere. Vladimir Bortko gave a full credit for that to the director of the cinematography Elena Ivanova with whom he later posed next to the official poster of his film.

Vladimir Bortko has a very poetic approach to the selection of the actors. He said that a musician had a musical instrument for his artistic expression. The sound of the Stradivarius violin is very different from the violin bought at a regular music store.  In the same way, a movie director searches for a Stradivarius type of actors for his film. He said it was not difficult to secure the internationality known actors like Malcolm McDowell or Sandrine Bonnaire. He sent them the script, they read it, liked it, stated the price that they estimated to be fare for their participation in the film, and he accepted it. He remarked that the remuneration they stipulated was lower than what the Russian actors would have asked.

The discussion with the journalists continued even after the press conference ended, in the lobby of the Hyatt Regency hotel which is one of the festival's sponsors.

Visit the Festival's website here.

© 2015 Nadia Slejskova

Saturday, August 29, 2015


"The Soul of the Spy" Official Russian Poster
Душа шпиона

2015, Colour & B W, Russia, 110 minutes, World Competition 

Production Team:

Director : Vladimir Bortko
Screenwriter : Vladimir Bortko, Mikhail Lyubimov. D'après le roman/Based on the novel: And Hell Followed Him. De/By: Mikhael Lyubimov
Cinematographer : Elena Ivanova
Editor : Leda Semenova
Cast : Andrei Chernyshov, Malcolm McDowell, Daniil Spivakovskiy, Liam Cunningham, Fedor Bondarchuk, Sandrine Bonnaire
Music : Igor Krutoi
Film production and Sales : Prod.: Leonid Vereshagin, Anton Zlatopolskiy, Natalia Bortko, Three T Productions / Studio 2B2 Entertainment, Kamenoostrovsky Avenue 10, St. Petersbourg 197101 (Russie), /


Born in Moscow in 1946, Vladimir Bortko grew up in the family of the Ukrainian Soviet playwright Aleksandr Korneychuk. After his studies in the Geological College in Kiev and his military service, he worked as an electrical engineer in Kiev before studying theatre and cinema and joining the Dovzhenko Film Studios as an assistant director. He made his own directorial debut in 1975 with KANAL and came to international attention in 1988 with his adaptation of Bulgakov's HEART OF A DOG. For television, he adapted Dostoyevsky's The Idiot and Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita. His 2009 film, TARAS BULBA, adapted from Gogol, was also a popular success. 

This film is based on the book And Hell Followed Him written by the former Soviet intelligence officer Mikhail Lyubimov who personally experienced the same espionage situations and adventures as his heroes. In the 1960s, he was a Soviet spy resident in London. He was well known in the best English houses where he appeared with the same charming smile as The Soul of the Spy's main character. He spoke with influential politicians and major cultural and public figures. The author of the book was merciless and direct in portraying the realities of the international spy sceen, and this is also the case with Vladimir Botko, the director of the film. 

The film shows the worldwide game of spying in a way it has never been seen on the screen before. In addition to the suspense, it has just the right combination of the rhythm, changing of the scenes, the introduction of new characters, situations, and the mounting of the intrigue. The actors succeeded with professional mastery to portray not only the "art of spying" and all that is involved in that dirty and dangerous game, but also to show the inner turmoil, emotions and even moral dilemmas of what is right and wrong, and how far one is obliged, wiling and able to go to achieve the required goals. One of the key question that arises is to what an extent is one justified either by a situation, or within oneself, to use innocent people, basically bystanders, who might even care and love you, in deceiving them, endangering their lives, and even causing their death.

Several internationally recognized actors appear in this film. It shows that by agreeing to participate in the film they recognized its great value and overall impact. But even those actors whose name or faces you do not recognize, they all act with high professionalism and talent.

Film's Official Synopsis:

"A Russian intelligence agent Alexander Fedorov who works in London under the name of Alex Wilkie asks for a political asylum in the West. He then becomes a double agent working for both Russia and USA. But for whom is he really working? His territory covers Great Britain, France, Switzerland, Egypt, Morocco and Russia. The story ends up with the solution to the riddle and five corpses. But this isn't a normal spy story. It is about a spy's methods and instruments. A surgeon works with a scalpel, a miner with an air hammer. A spy, notwithstanding what country he is working for -- China or Japan, Russia or USA -- has the same instruments: blackmail, theft, eavesdropping, forgery... And when required even murder. A spy may have a few wives -- for purposes of cover. No friends, but plenty of informers. In order to lead a double, a treble life. It is a profession that makes an imprint on a human being, as it did on the KGB colonel Michael Lyubimov during the Cold War. "

The film had its World Premier at the Montreal World Film Festival. Do make an opportunity to see it.


Friday August 28, 2015 - 04:30 PM - CINÉMA IMPÉRIAL
Saturday August 29, 2015 - 02:00 PM - CINÉMA IMPÉRIAL

Images courtesy of the Montreal World Film Festival and the director Vladimir Bortko.

Film review © 2015 Nadia Slejskova

Friday, August 28, 2015

MWFF 2015 Opening Night

Montreal World Film Festival 2015
Opening Night Photo Highlights 
August 27, 2015

This year, the  red carpet and the opening ceremonies took place at the Cinema Imperial. There was no long red carpet walk, only the side walk in front of the cinema entrance was red carpeted.

Actors from the Japanese film Midnight Baby are posing on the Red Carpet

 The photographers take over the Red Carpet area

Serge Losique posing with actresses inside Cinema Imperial

Serge Losique, Dany Laferrière-MWFF 2015 Jury's President, and the Jury 
Majid Majidi, Director of the Opening Night's film Muhammad and the film's crew
Click on images to enlarge them.

All photos by Nadia Slejskova.
© 2015 Nadia Slejskova

Saturday, August 22, 2015

MWFF 2011-2014 Photo Highlights

Montreal World Film Festival
Festival des Films du Monde de Montréal

Photo Highlights 2011-2014

This post shows a selection of my photos from the past 4 editions of the festival. It is to remind everybody of the excitement the festival generates. The MWFF offers a great variety of films to see, most of which are 
otherwise not screened in Montreal. So plan to attend the 39th Edition of the festival that starts in a few days on August 27, 2015.

MMFA 2014: 38th Edition

Closing Night

MMFA 2013: 37th Edition

Serge Losique

MMFA 2012: 36th Edition

Red Carpet Before the Opening Ceremony

Closing Night

MMFA 2011: 35th Edition
Catherine Deneuve

Awards Ceremony, Théâtre Maisonneuve, Place des Arts, August 28, 2011

Press Conference, August 27, 2011

Click on images to enlarge them.

All photos by Nadia Slejskova.
© 2015 Nadia Slejskova

You can also see archived photos of the past MMFF editions on their website here.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

MWFF 2015: Montreal Film Festival

Montreal World Film Festival
39th Edition

27 August - 7 Septemeber, 2015

This year, the Montreal World Film Festival (MWFF) starts about a week later than in previous years. This offers an exceptional opportunity to all those who take late summer holidays not to miss this great film festival and to attend it, to watch many remarkable films from around the world. I was told by international directors who had films in competition at the MWFF in previous years, that MMFA is considered within the film industry to be an international festival that selects the films with the greatest consideration for the core human issues, while keeping a perspective on the most actual topics of the day. The selection of films will be so wide that it won't fail to address the different audience preferences, especially since films from 86 countries will be represented in this 2015 edition of the festival. All the previous festival editions were a great hit with the audience, many travelling to Montreal over large distances to participate in this unique annual event.

Also this year, Montreal World Film Festival (in French Festival des Films du Monde de 
Montréalis honouring the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Canada and China. In order to showcase the Chinese burgeoning contemporary film production, the 2015 edition of the MWFF added a special section, Chinese Cinema, which includes a number of new Chinese feature films.

The festival will open with an Iranian epic film Muhammad, which is about the Islam's founding prophet. The story focuses on his early years, from birth to age 13. The film is 171 minute long, and it took five years to make it. Its budget was over $50 million. This is the most expansive film ever made in Iran. The director of the film Majid Majidi is a veteran of the MWFF. He won the MMFA Grand Prix des Amériques three times: for Children of Heaven (1997), The Color of Paradise (1999) and Baran (2001). The director will attend the FFM première with members of the film team.

This year the number of entries to the MWFF sections has overtaken those of previous years: over 2000 feature and short films (in equal proportion) were submitted and screened by the selection commitee.

A quote from Serge Losique, the MWFF's founder and director:
The Festival is very proud to be able to host the premiere of this important work, a film of very high artistry aimed at a very wide audience... There have been many movies dealing with key figures of the world’s great religions, including Jesus, Moses and Buddha, but this is only the second epic screen treatment of Islam’s founder.”
The Montreal World Film Festival has just announced the line-up of its World Competition as well as First Feature Competition
World Competition

Grand Prize of the Americas

27 Feature films from 31 countries will compete in this category: 

2 Nights Till Morning by Mikko Kuparinen (Finland-Lithuania) 84 mins
A Havana Moment by Guillermo Ivàn Duenas (USACuba - MexicoColombia) 95 mins
A Matter of Courage byRoberto Gervitz (BrazilUruguay) 90 mins
Chucks by Sabine Hiebler, Gerhard Ertl (Austria) 93 mins
Demimonde by Attila  Szàsz (Hungary) 88 mins
Gassoh by Tatsuo Kobayashi  (Japan) 87 mins
Getaway of Love by Tonino Zangardi (Italy) 90 mins
Grey and Black by Luís Filipe Rocha (PortugalBrazil)
Happy 140 by Gracia Querejeta (Spain) 98 mins
John Hron by Jon Pettersson (Sweden) 127 mins
L’Accabadora by Enrico Pau (ItalyIreland) 97 mins
Mad Love by Philippe Ramos (France) 96 mins
Memories of the Wind by Özcan Alper (Turkey - Germany - FranceGeorgia) 140 mins
My Enemies by Stéphane Géhami (Canada) 106 mins
On the Road to Berlin by Sergei Popov (Russia) 82 mins
Outliving Emily by Eric Weber (USA) 88 mins
Rider Jack by This Lüscher (Switzerland) 90 mins
Secret by Selim Evci (Turkey) 102 mins
Seven Days by Xing Jian (China) 73 mins
Summer Solstice by Michal Rogalski (PolandGermany) 95 mins
Taboo by Khosro Masoumi (Iran) 108 mins
The Girl King by Mika Kaurismäki (Germany - Canada - Finland - Sweden) 102 mins
The Invisible Artery by Pere Vilà Barcelo (Spain) 119 mins
The Midnight Orchestra by Jérôme Cohen Olivar (Morocco) 114 mins
The Petrov File by Georgi Balabanov (BulgariaGermany) 90 mins
The Soul of a Spy by Vladimir Bortko (Russia) 110 mins
The Visitor by Mehmet Erylimaz (Turkey) 127 mins
First Feature Competition

Beijing Carmen by Wang Fan (China) 95 mins
Closer by Mostafa Ahmadi (Iran) 90 mins
Crushed by Megan Riakos (Australia) 111 mins
Das Deckelbad by Kuno Bont (Switzerland) 97 mins
Dear Deer by Takeo Kikuchi (Japan) 107 mins
Fire Birds by Amir Wolf (Israel) 105 mins
Kagurame byYassuo Okuaki (Japan) 112 mins
Legacy by Nemanja  Cipranic (SerbiaMontenegro) 90 mins
Live by Vlad Paunescu (Romania) 107 mins
Lost and found by Show Yanagisawa (Japan) 111 mins
Maresia by Marcos Guttmann (Brazil) 90 mins
Neboke by Norihito Iki (Japan) 115 mins
Our Everyday Life by Ines Tanovic(Bosnia-Hezegovine – SloveniaCroatia)
Rainbow Without Colours by Tuyen Quang Nguyen (Vietnam) 93 mins
Rosa Chumbe by Jonatan Relayze Chiang (Peru) 75 mins
Orage by Fabrice Camoin (France) 80 mins
Stubborn Boy by Moritz Kramer (Germany) 82 mins
The Funeral by Qi Wang (China) 115 mins
The Plastic Cardboard Sonata by Enrico Falcone, Piero Persello (Italy) 80 mins
The Sum of Histories by Lukas Bossuyt (BelgiumNetherlands) 85 mins
The Thin Yellow Line by Celso Garcia (Mexique) 95 mins
Three Days in September by Darijan Pejovski (Macedonia – Kosovo) 90 mins
Under Heaven by Dalmira Tilepbergen (Khirgizistan) 88 mins
Vals by Anita Lakenberger (Austria) 120 mins

Members of both Juries were also made public today.

Visit the Montreal World Film Festival's website for more information, program and film scheduling.

Festival information courtesy of  MWFF.