Leaves and stereotypes fall

Intrigue on eve of 17th Minsk International Listapad Film Festival

By Irina Petrovskaya


This year, the festival’s organisers have promised a new concept, with the content and format greatly altered. We were able to compare films not only by the number of awards they have won at various film forums (not always prestigious). This year’s Listapad was filled with strong works, although not all boasted awards. However, each stood as a significant phenomenon in the world of global film making, already much discussed at festivals held in Cannes, Venice, Rotterdam and elsewhere.

The audience did not choose the major Listapad awards this year; nevertheless, filmgoers were encouraged to play an active role, being invited to ask questions of the directors, actors and producers after each screening. The unique new format certainly differed from many others’.


On the first day of the event, the much revered Chairman of the Listapad Film Festival, Rostislav Yankovsky, solemnly passed on his authority to Gennady Davydko, customarily breaking a plate covered with the autographs of last years’ guests over a film camera tripod. Listapad’s anthem was played and, then, surprise guest Ornella Muti appeared. The wonderful Italian actress played Adriano Celentano’s girlfriend in Il Bisbetico Domato. Bad weather delayed her entrance, with the hosts filling the time with awkward jokes, but the audience forgave her all when she finally arrived; her presence was the highlight of the day for most. However, in my view, Ms. Muti perhaps did not deserve such great attention, having barely achieved much to talk about compared to others who were present — such as Sharunas Bartas (whose films always impress at world festivals) and Vahtang Kikabidze (whose films are screened worldwide).


No doubt, our Listapad remains a ‘top festival’ but it shouldn’t be in too much of a hurry to emulate other prestigious cinematic events. Naturally, the achievements of our national cinematography are quite modest, so is it necessary to gather the celebrities of Cannes or Berlin in Minsk, bringing red carpets and the sparkle of glamour? We could argue that more interesting personalities exist in modern cinema.


Judging by the first films screened at Listapad, our directors seem to have invited those whose charm masks their professional acting skills. The main character of much-talked-of Levan Koguashvili’s Quchis Dgeebi works as a painter in real life, while Franзois Ozon invited a musician to play the leading role in his Refuge: Louis-Ronan Choisy. The latter did a good job, and happily shared ‘behind-the-scenes’ information on Mr. Ozon with the Minsk audience, regarding script writing and his work with actors. He also gave an impromptu concert in the Belarusian capital, performing in a rather ill-equipped cinema, at a piano unexpectedly brought in for occasion. No doubt, this year’s Listapad had many surprises…

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