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Los Angeles, April 16-23, 2004

Another annual Festival of Russian Culture in Los Angeles (USA) came to pass from April 16 to 23, 2004. Hollywood's unique architectural complex, The Pacific Design Center (PDC), played host to a wide array of festival events: film screenings, concerts, exhibition of contemporary fine art, receptions, media conferences, interviews and creative meetings. In addition, the Shakespeare Globe Playhouse Theatre hosted plays and meetings with actors. The Young Filmmakers Forum was held at The University of Southern California School of Film.


Opening ceremonies took place on April 16 at the Silver Screen Theatre (PDC). City of Los Angeles Representative Helen Levine read greetings from California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Hollywood's Mayor Jim Hahn and San Francisco's Russian Consul, Victor Lizun . The Festival kicked off to a packed and enthusiastic audience with the U.S. premiere of the 1918 Russian classic, "A Young Lady and a Hooligan," starring Russian poetic icon Vladimir Mayakovsky. Preceding the full-length feature, a documentary by Tatiana Malova exploring the poet's life and work, "The Puppy's Heart or Vladimir Mayakovsky's Misfire" (2003), was screened. Finally, actress Sharon Stone was presented an honorary "Tower Award for Contribution to World Cinema" by poet Andrei Voznesensky.

On display was an exhibit featuring photographs and documents from the archive of Vladimir Mayakovsky's Moscow Museum.

The reception for the festival's opening was presented by the Russian Talent Foundation in association with Hollywood Life magazine. The reception party was highlighted by performances from Russian and American artists such as Grammy Award winner Christopher Gevin, Alex Ligertwood of the Carlos Santana Band, as well as Bossa Nova vocalist Kate Moraes and Frank Gambale, guitar player.


The Russian International Film Festival (RIFF), which has become a part of RUSSIAN NIGHTS, has continued its tradition of exhibiting 20th Century classics. Some of the films featured this year were:

"Mother" by Vsevolod Pudovkin; "Nine Days of One Year" by Mikhail Romm; "Ashik-Kerib" by Sergei Paradzhanov; "After Death" by Evgeny Bauer; "Volga-Volga" by Grigory Alexandrov; "The Lone Voice of Man" by Alexander Sokurov; "Agony" by Elem Klimov; "Someone Else s Letters" by Ilya Averbach

Both "Agony" and "Someone Else s Letters" were introduced to the festival by the films stars Alexei Petrenko and Irina Kupchenko. "Volga-Volga" was presented by writer Zoya Boguslavskaya. Vladimir Khotinenko's "72 Meters," is one of the Festival's 21st Century Cinematic works and was introduced by the film's director and star, Vladislav Galkin.

The film "An American Rhapsody" was introduced by its creators - director Eva Gardos, actress Nastassja Kinski, producer Colin Kemp and Russian actor Vladimir Mashkov, for whom that small role became his Hollywood debut. Director Vladimir Khotinenko bestowed the festival's honorary "Tower Award for Contribution to World Cinema" upon actress Nastassja Kinski.

Keeping with tradition, the RIFF hosted The Young Filmmakers Forum. Screened were works by up and coming Russian directors, screenwriters, advanced films students and graduates of The Russian State School of Cinematography. Among the works shown were "Love Story" by Vladimir Moss, "Mowers" by Veniamin Tronin, "Garoon" by Pavel Fetisov and "Flesh" by Slava Ross. The films were exhibited at the prestigious University of Southern California (USC) as well as at the Falcon Club. In addition, most of the works were screened preceding main festival feature films at the PDC.


On display in the Pacific Design Center's Art Hall was "Russian Art in the World: Through the Past to the Future". This exhibit came to be one of the most multi-faceted showings of contemporary Russian visual art ever held in the United States. It presented 33 works of contemporary artists, photographers and sculptors born and raised in the Soviet Union who now live and work in the United States, France, Germany and Russia.

The exhibition featured widely recognized masters whose works can be found in the some of world's greatest museums - Ilya Kabakov, Grisha Bruskin, Rimma and Valery Gerlovins, Komar and Melamid, Alexander Kosolapov, Natalia Nesterova and Leonid Sokov, as well as emerging artists Vladimir Klavikho-Telepnev, Sasha Manovtseva, Mikhail Odnoralov among many others. This exhibition was introduced by Alexander Borovsky, a leading expert at the Russian State Museum. During special events held at this same location, St. Petersburg artist Vladislav Monroe transformed himself into characters from his art collection, surprising guests with the believability of his images.


American theatergoers were presented with two plays written and staged by director Evgeny Grishkovets, "How I Ate a Dog" and "At the Same Time," introduced by the president of the Triumph Foundation Zoya Boguslavskaya, as well as a one-man show by film and theater star Alexei Petrenko. The plays were performed at the Globe Playhouse Theater, a center for American Shakespearean society, which is a replica of Shakespeare's very own historic Globe Theater. This theater was also the site of poetry readings by the legendary Russian poet Andrei Voznesensky. English-speaking audiences were provided simultaneous translations.


Russian musicians provided stellar performances at the PDC's Art Hall stage as well as at the popular jazz club La Ve Lee. Among the artists were the classical duet of Grammy Award nominated guitarist Dimitri Illarionov and cellist Boris Andrianov. Audiences also enjoyed performances by the jazz trio of Vladimir Volkov (bass), Vyacheslav Gaivoronsky (trumpet) and Andrei Kondakov (piano), who have all garnered world recognition at international jazz festivals.

Ethnic music was represented by Sergei Starostin, one of the country's most well-known folk musicians and Russian folklore researcher, playing over 40 musical instruments.

Contemporary rock culture was represented by Alexander Vasilyev, leader of one of Russia's most popular rock-bands, "Splean". Guests also included legendary Russian musicians - Alexei Zubov, one of the country's best saxophonists, legendary drummer Yury Fokin of the bands "The Flowers" and "The Time Machine" and Sergei Dyuzhikov, renowned guitarist formerly of "The Scythians" and "The Flowers". A jam session took place with the coming together of the original members of "The Flowers," who played together for the first time in 26 years - Stas Namin, Alexei Zubov, Yury Fokin and Sergei Dyuzhikov. They were joined on-stage by American musicians Oleg Shram - who also took part in the jam.


There were a great many American and Russian celebrities on the red carpet for the closing of RUSSIAN NIGHTS. Guests in attendance came from around the world featuring prominent celebrities visiting from Russia such as Andrei Voznesensky, Vladimir Khotinenko, Irina Kupchenko, Vladislav Galkin, Alexei Petrenko, and Vladimir Mashkov. Russian actors currently working in the United States were present - Levani Outchaneichvili, Natalia Negoda, Vladimir Alenikov, Dmitry Budrin, Oleg Taktarov, Galina Loginova, Alexander Nevsky, Marina Kalinina. Also present were Burt Young, Michael York, Steven Bauer, Hill Harper, Crispin Glover, Denny Diante, A. C. Lyles, John Saxon, Irina Stemer, Kate David, Cristina Wayborn, Marvin Page, Moya Brady, Natasha Alam among many other Hollywood notables. The festival's closing performance was by American singer Preston Smith.

RUSSIAN NIGHTS Festival closing ceremonies featured awards of recognition and achievement. Before the screening of Vladimir Khotinenko's "72 Meters," actor Alexei Petrenko and writer Zoya Boguslavskaya on behalf of the RUSSIAN NIGHTS Festival conferred the "Tower Award" to eminent Hollywood actor Dustin Hoffman. The festival's producer Stas Namin and poet Andrei Voznesensky then presented an award to the legendary American science fiction author, Ray Bradbury. Also noted were Academy Award winners Jack Palance ("City Slickers", "The Four Deuces", "Tango and Cash"), screenwriter Mardik Martin ("Raging Bull", "Mean Streets", "New York, New York", etc.) and the prolific Hollywood actress Sally Kirkland ("Bruce Almighty", "JFK", "A Star is Born", "Going Home")