Variety show

Variety show

The annual New British Film Festival showcases a fresh crop of daring and diverse films from the UK. The opening night sees the local premiere of Joe Wright’s epic cinematic adaptation of Lev Tolstoy’s masterpiece ‘Anna Karenina,’ starring Keira Knightley.

Published: November 7, 2012 (Issue # 1734)


Keira Knightley stars as the doomed heroine of Tolstoy’s ‘Anna Karenina.’

New British cinema at its most inspired — from a documentary drama to a gangster movie, from a novel adaptation to a psychological thriller — comes to town on Nov. 14, as the 13th edition of the annual New British Film Festival kicks off.

Over the five nights of the festival, which is sponsored by the British Council, St. Petersburg cinema-goers will be treated to six of the most recent British premieres, including several productions that stirred debate in the UK media. All screenings will be hosted by the Avrora cinema.

This year, the festival takes place in Moscow, where it runs from Nov. 1 through 11, Yekaterinburg, where it moves on Nov. 22 for 5 nights, and St. Petersburg.

The opening night sees the local premiere of Joe Wright’s 130-minute cinematic adaptation of Lev Tolstoy’s masterpiece “Anna Karenina,” starring Keira Knightley in the title role.

The film won mixed reviews in the British press, with the director’s decision to set most of Tolstoy’s drama inside a Russian theater from the 1870s eliciting controversial reactions from critics and the public alike.


The absurdist comedy ‘Black Pond’ was nominated for a BAFTA award.

“Tom Stoppard, a fluent and sensitive adaptor, has made a distinguished job of carving a workable screenplay from Tolstoy’s 950-page novel, and Joe Wright has found a distinctive way of bringing it to the screen with Keira Knightley as Anna, Jude Law as her middle-aged, cuckolded husband, Karenin, and Aaron Taylor-Johnson as her dashing lover, Count Vronsky,” reads a recent review in The Guardian newspaper. “The director’s intention was to create a large-scale image of upper-class Tsarist society. This symbolic theatre is a place of dramatic performance and moral judgment, a forum where aristocrats gather to see and be seen, to observe and to censure. Wright’s movie is a dazzling affair, a highly stylised treatment of a realistic novel, superbly designed by Sarah Greenwood and edited by Melanie Ann Oliver, with rich photography by Seamus McGarvey, sumptuous costumes by Jacqueline Durran and a highly romantic Tchaikovskian score by Dario Marianelli, all previous Wright collaborators. The theatre stage with its oil lamp footlights is sometimes a real stage with 19th-century flats and sometimes a venue for actual events such as the provincial racecourse where Count Vronsky has his terrible fall.”

The Tolstoy epic drama is not the only adaptation that the audiences will be treated to at the festival. On Friday, Nov. 16, Avrora will host the premiere of Mike Newell’s interpretation of Charles Dickens’ classic “Great Expectations,” featuring Helena Bonham Carter, Ralph Fiennes and Jason Flemyng.

Newell’s work has won praise far beyond home. “Director Mike Newell makes a solid case for big-screen presentation with an assured version that’s no less entertaining for being quite conventional,” reads a review in the respected magazine The Hollywood Reporter. “A crucial aspect that Newell gets right from the start is cementing the long-range connection between the young orphan Pip (Toby Irvine) and escaped convict Magwitch (Ralph Fiennes), which will shape many of the tale’s key events. Caked in mud and growling in a common-as-muck accent, Fiennes is feral and frightening. Sneaking up on the cherubic lad in the cemetery, Magwitch terrifies him into fetching food, whisky and a blacksmith’s file to saw through his prison shackles. While the boy acts out of fear, Magwitch is starved for kindness, and an exchange of glances as he’s recaptured conveys his gratitude.”

One of the most highly anticipated premieres of the festival is the dark absurdist comedy “Black Pond” (Sunday, Nov. 18, 5 p.m.), directed by Tom Kingsley and Will Sharpe.

An egocentric father, his emotionally deflated wife, their two YouTube-crazy daughters, and their young Japanese friend are the central characters in this black comedy that revolves around a murder investigation. The film won a BAFTA in the outstanding debut film category, was nominated for a BAFTA in the best film category, and was given the best newcomer award by the Evening Standard newspaper.


‘Comes A Bright Day’ is a romantic thriller revolving around a robbery.

A lighter form of comic relief will be served to the public in the form of the romantic thriller “Comes A Bright Day” (director Simon Aboud), in which the plot revolves around the armed robbery of an exclusive jewelry shop in central London. The main character, a young but very ambitious employee of a London hotel, is on a mission to deliver a broken piece of jewelry to a prestigious jewelry shop, where the girl he loves also works. At the very moment he enters the shop, two armed gangsters break in — and the young man has the chance of his life to show his courage, wit and talent. “Comes A Bright Day” screens Thursday, Nov. 16, at 7 p.m.

James Marsh’s poignant psychological drama “Shadow Dancer,” set in 1990s Belfast, where an active member of the Irish Republican Army becomes a double-dealer, providing information about the militants’ activities to MI5 in exchange for protection for her son, has already been shown locally once — at the closing of this year’s edition of the St. Petersburg International Film Festival in September. The New British Film festival offers a brilliant opportunity to see this gripping film, which won the Best Acting in a British Movie prize at the Edinburgh International Film Festival. “Shadow Dancer” will be shown Sunday, Nov. 18, at 7 p.m.

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