Moscow Film Festival opens with praise of Donbass soldiers

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MOSCOW (AP) — The 44th Moscow International Film Festival opened Friday with reduced foreign representation amid the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

Festival chief Nikita Mikhalkov, the Oscar-winning director of ‘Burnt By The Sun,’ brushed it off, saying, “It doesn’t matter how big the stars come. I’m interested in the people who come, because they’re interested in meeting us.”

Mikhalkov also praised the Russian military operation in Ukraine.

“These days the heroes are in Donbass,” he said, referring to the industrial heartland of eastern Ukraine, two regions Russia recognized as sovereign this year after separatists backed by Russia began fighting the Ukrainian government there in 2014.

“This is where the new elite and new heroes are born. In fact, a new world and a new society are being born there. The problem is that, unfortunately, not everyone understands that this is serious and here to stay,” he said.

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The festival opened with the premiere of a highly anticipated Russian historical epic: “Land of Legends”, directed by Anton Megerdichev.

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