Opening minds

Opening minds

The first ‘Art Without Borders’ film festival aims to promote tolerance among city residents via a diverse selection of movies. In keeping with the theme of tolerance, the festival features films of all kinds of genres made in different eras and in various countries.

Published: November 28, 2012 (Issue # 1737)


Many of the films, including ‘Buddha Collapsed Out of Shame’ (above), show the cruel treatment of individuals.

This week will see the city attempt to inculcate tolerance for other cultures among city residents via the medium of cinema.

The “Art Without Borders” marathon of movies from around the world event kicked off at the Dom Kino and Rodina movie theaters on Nov. 27, with the aim of drawing public attention to issues of tolerance and promoting friendly cooperation between people with different worldviews.

The organizers of the event, which is being held in the city for the first time, hope it will prove to be a significant event both for those seeking to promote the ideals of tolerance, and for cinema aficionados.

“The idea of the festival has been in the air for a long time,” said Alexei Nedviga, program director at Rodina movie theater.

“Previously irrelevant problems have become inescapable in our day. In fact, several years ago an ideology [communism] played the role of a single religion, uniting different national cultures. But after the failure of this ideology, various religions have come to the fore. Let’s take Islam. Twenty years ago we weren’t even thinking about it. Today we realize that it is necessary to find ways of interacting with it, as we are all neighbors and we should respect other’s opinions,” he said.

The term “tolerance” is used here in the broadest sense, to encompass class, generational and national issues. Accordingly, the festival program features a suitable broad palette of different themes and genres (including feature films, short films and documentaries) as well as movies made in different eras and different countries.

The marathon program consists of films from Iran, France, Mexico, Ukraine, Armenia, Belarus, Finland, Lithuania and Korea, as well as motion pictures from Russia’s Tatarstan and Sakha (Yakutia) federal subjects.


‘Le Havre’ is the story of a young African illegal immigrant and a shoe-shiner.

Several classic movies from the Soviet period will be shown, the most famous of which is “Chuchelo” (Scarecrow, 1984) directed by Rolan Bykov, starring the well-known Soviet actor Yury Nikulin and Russian singer and actress Kristina Orbakaite. The drama film depicts life as a teenager, school violence and the suffering borne by outcasts.

The festival also features some brand new films that have only recently been released to the public, such as “Broken,” “In the House,” “The Beloved” and “Light After Darkness.” The “Art Without Borders” project offers movie-goers a unique chance to watch them free of charge.

Many of the films shown at the marathon are international festival winners, including “Buddha Collapsed Out of Shame” by Hana Makhmalbaf (2007, Special Jury Prize at the San Sebastian Film Festival), “The Class” by Laurent Cantet (2008, Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival) and “Le Havre” by Aki Kaurismäki (2011, FIPRESCI Prize for best film at the Cannes Film Festival).

In addition to the film program, “Art Without Borders” comprise a children’s painting competition titled “My Petersburg” and a roundtable conference devoted to exploring the issue of tolerance via cinema.

The principles of tolerance have always been especially important for St. Petersburg, which became infamous during the last decade as a hotbed of hate crime and racist attacks. According to the Sova Center, which monitors hate crimes, between January and August 2008 at least 42 people in St. Petersburg and the Leningrad Oblast were the victims of racist and neo-Nazi attacks. Thirteen of them died.

In recent years, the city authorities have made a visible effort to tackle the problem with a campaign of social advertising and program of cultural events that aim to contribute to mutual understanding between representatives of the city’s different religions and nations. A number of conferences, exhibitions, seminars and other activities were recently held in the city to mark International Tolerance Day (Nov. 16).

The “Art Without Borders” international movie marathon runs through Dec. 12. Admission is free for all visitors. For a full program, visit and

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