Competition focused on Russian movies at the 26th Moscow international film festival to do honour to the host country's cinema.
The Harvest Time (Marina Razbezhkina, director), Vladimir Mashkov's Daddy, and Dmitri Meskhiev's Us won the greatest sympathies of the jury, the press and the public.
Dmitri Meskhiev's endeavour deservedly won in three nominations. Bohdan Stupka, who appeared as a village elder, is Best Actor, and Meskhiev, Best Director, to say nothing of Grand Prix that went to the film.
The suspense-laden psychological drama represents the best-loved genre of the "serious" cinema. The action is set in one of the most tragic periods of World War II-August 1941. Dramatic events revolve round two Soviet officers-Cheka Man and Political Instructor-and a private, Sniper. As the three heroes escape from a German POW camp, Sniper takes them to his parental home in a German-occupied village. His father, Oldster, was a prosperous farmer who came through cruel Bolshevk reprisals. He hates the Soviet regime and volunteers to be village elder under the nazis. The officer heroes have one hair's-breadth escape after another as Oldster is determined to betray them to the Germans if they grant to spare his son. This wartime thriller is, in fact, a modernised Greek tragedy of Fate and Man.
Us had its closest rival in Daddy. Vladimir Mashkov owes a greater part of his acclaim to acting on stage and in the movies. Here, he came not only as director but leading man, appearing as Abram Schwartz, an old Jew. He dedicated his all to his brilliant son, who eventually entered the Moscow conservatory. Abram comes from his little town to see the boy a celebrity-and the famous musician does not care to conceal his shame of having a hopelessly provincial father.
Mashkov's excellent film went off with no awards. Alan Parker, jury president and director of Angel Heart, the unforgettable mystical thriller, and the others on the jury, gave the tearful parable of family life the cold shoulder to prefer Us, the Antiquity-style epic.
China Zorilla, 82, is Best Actress for Talking with Mom, a Spanish-Argentinian co-production in which she appears as an old lady fallen in belated love.
Estonia's Jaak Kilmi and Rene Reinumagi won a Special Award for their anti-Soviet comedy, Revolution of Pigs.
The Perspectives award plus a $20,000 cheque went to Takahata Hideta, young Japanese director, who came up with The Hotel Venus. The title hero of this drama, a transvestite cafe proprietor, is an angel of kindness, always eager to help all who need.
The magnificent Maryl Streep won the Stanislavsky award.
Movie experts think well-made Russian films will again come on top at the 27th Moscow festival, due next year. They have good reason, too-Russian movies are getting more numerous with every passing year. An impressive 103 were released last year alone.