Russia Rules Out US Academy Awards, But Will Its Absence Be Missed?

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No Russian film will be nominated for an Oscar this year, the Russian Film Academy announced this week, amid historic tensions between the United States and Russia over Moscow’s war on Ukraine.

In a statement, the Academy said it would not send any Russian films to compete in the 2023 Oscars Best International Film competition, which will be held in the United States.

This follows decisions by several other international festivals, such as the Cannes Film Festival, to ban Russian delegations or anyone linked to the Russian government – although independent Russian filmmakers were allowed to compete.

Pavel Tchoukhrai, chairman of the committee in charge of sending Russian films to American competition, denounced what he described as a decision taken “behind his back” and announced his resignation in response.

Offering to create a “Eurasian” alternative, director Nikita Mikhalkov, a giant of Russian cinema and a supporter of Putin, said there was no need for Russia to participate in the Oscars.

“It seems to me that choosing a movie that will represent Russia in a country that actually currently denies the existence of Russia just doesn’t make sense,” he told the agency. Russian press TASS.

With a touch of irony, Mikhalkov himself was nominated three times for the Oscars for best international feature film – in 1992 for Close to Eden1994 for Burned by the sun and 2007 for 12 – and won the Oscar for Burnt by the sun. He is currently the last Russian to have won the Oscar for best international feature film.

And he’s not the only one to be awarded a coveted Oscar statuette.

Russian artists and directors have won a total of 39 Oscars and been nominated for another 177 since the event opened in 1929.

Let’s take a look at who won the award for Best International Feature Film.

War and Peace (1966 – won 1968)

As the name suggests, War and peace is an adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s 1869 novel.

Much like the classic of world literature, the film traces the lives of a handful of Russian aristocratic families amid Napoleon’s brutal invasion of their country.

The film received considerable support from the Soviet Union, which provided ten thousand soldiers and hundreds of horses as extras, despite its often abrupt removal from the arts.

With so many animals and men, no wonder War and peace was the most expensive film ever made in the Soviet Union, costing between $60 and $70 million at 2019 prices (around €72.6 million).

If you do decide to watch it, brace yourself: the four-part film is 431 minutes long from start to finish.

Dersu Uzala (1975)

Directed by famous Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa, Dersu Uzala: the hunter is a 1976 Soviet-Japanese film.

Co-written by Russian Yuri Nagibin and shot almost entirely on location in the Russian Far East, it is based on the 1923 memoir of Vladimir Arsenyev, an early 20th-century Russian explorer.

The film watches the life of a forest dweller as his old way of life is slowly destroyed by the inevitable march of civilization. It also emphasizes the growth of respect and deep friendship between two men from profoundly different backgrounds, as well as the difficulty of coping with aging and the loss of vitality it brings.

Dersu Uzala proved a hit with moviegoers in Europe and the Soviet Union, selling over 21 million tickets.

Moscow Doesn’t Believe in Tears (1980)

What a title.

Released in 1980, Moscow does not believe in tears is a Soviet romantic drama directed by Vladimir Menchov under Mosfilm, Russia’s largest and oldest film studio still in operation.

The film, which jumps over two decades, traces the lives of three young Moscow women.

Without giving too much away, it involves flirty flirts, well-to-do husbands (or not, as the case may be), denied abortions, divorces, famous hockey players, vodka binges, and “man talk.” Do whatever you want with it.

Even today it is considered a classic in Russia. In 2021, a survey by the Russian Center for Public Opinion Research revealed Moscow does not believe in tears was the favorite Soviet film of Russian viewers.

Sunburned (1994)

We return to Nikita Mikhalkov, the Russian director and Putin supporter who called the Oscars nonsense on Tuesday, September 27.

The 1990s film – which also won the Grand Prix at the 1994 Cannes Film Festival – depicts the story of a Red Army officer and his family during the Great Purge of the late 1930s in the Stalinist Soviet Union.

In this real-life event, up to 1.2 million people were killed by Soviet leader Joseph Stalin as he attempted to consolidate his power and remove any influence from political rivals within the Communist Party.

Set over the course of a day in 1936, the film begins with a character contemplating suicide and ends with someone (we won’t say who) being deported to a labor camp. To say this isn’t a sweet watch is an understatement.

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