Touched down in moscow just as dawn was breaking, golden sunshine clipping the horizon of forest and concrete suburbs as the train from Domodedovo airport made it’s way Paveletskaya station in the city. Paveletskaya is not the most refined introduction to Moscow… some pretty rough looking taxi drivers badgering passengers coming off the train, then out onto the streets and the bustle of obviously lower paid workers making there way down to the metro. Finding an ATM to get some cash and then figuring out the ticket machines for metro was the next hurdle, but soon sorted.
A metro map I’d brought with me was in roman characters, but all the signs on the metro are in cyrilic so matching up station names like Paveletskaya to Павелецкая took a bit of getting used to.
First stop Red Square… Moscovites roll their eyes and say ‘why do foreigners have to go to Red Sq’ - well - we just do. It’s iconic and let’s face it, nothing looks more like Moscow to the outside world than a nice piccy of St Basils; so click click click. Lenin’s tomb; click click. Walls of the Kremlin; click. Police guards on cigarette break; click click click.
Booking in at the festival hotel; the 1800+ room Hotel Cosmos, meeting other filmmakers from Russia, New Zealand, Israel, Spain and Indonesia… then off on the metro again to join hundreds of people for the opening night and a pre-premier screening of Jason Statham in ‘Safe’ (2012 USA). Dubbed entirely into Russian, someone maybe forgot to turn the English subtitles on, but I guess action films aren’t to hard to follow (good guys, bad guys, bent cops, rugged hero).
The venue; the historic soviet cinema Dom Kino (Дом Кино) which was apparently the Russian film industry’s home for the last half-century. It housed the Russian Filmmakers’ Union and meetings of the Union of Cinematographers amongst others - and has hosted Moscow’s International Film Festival.
What can I say of the rest of the week without boring you? There were some cracking film screenings from New Zealand’s low budget Pulp Fiction style feature ‘The Fall Guys’ (Scott and Rhys pictured below) to the conscientious documentary ‘Turbulence’ from Israel (respect to kobi and Roni). Loads of great filmmakers to meet and discuss projects with, lots of warm beer, Bulgarian wine and Russian vodka each evening. What was particularly unexpected was flying out of the UK in 10ºC and spending every day in Russia in heat of up to 25ºC!
But the temperature was only one of the surprises - the evening of the 26th held a couple more…
On our way to a central cinema the capital was hit by what looked from a distance like a massive green thunderstorm, but when it hit us with high gusts belting down the streets, we realised it was a fine dust. Some people were worried it could be radioactive - terrorism’s a big issue for Moscow too and being the 26th anniversary of Chernobyl was obviously on some people’s minds. Turned out (the news said) it was the natural release of an extraordinary amount of tree pollen due to the recent heatwave. Hmmm, okay - I’ll buy that.
Later, as we left the cinema we noticed a crowd had gathered at the side of the street. Barriers were up and dozens of police lining the pavements. Then the ground started to tremor… and from behind the buildings appeared a massive convoy of dozens of armoured personnel carriers, tanks and intercontinental ballistic missile launchers (bloody big ones); real state of the art cold war hardware branded with red star markings and flying red flags. Another coup with the military on the street like in ‘91/’93?? Or could it be an early rehearsal for Red Squares May Day military parade? There was no shooting so we’ll assume the later.
Tomorrow - closing awards dinner.