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Russian Film Takes Jury Prize In Venice

Russian filmmaker Andrei Konchalovsky (file photo)
Russian filmmaker Andrei Konchalovsky (file photo)

Russian director Andrei Konchalovsky's retelling of Khrushchev-era oppression around a 1962 massacre has won Special Jury Prize honors at the 77th Venice International Film Festival.

The 83-year-old filmmaker has described his black-and-white film, Dear Comrade, as a "fairytale" exploration of the "purity" of postwar Soviet characters, many of whom he says are "good and bad at the same time."

It stars Konchalovsky's wife, Yulia Vysotskaya, who was born in the Novocherkassk region where the killing of 26 striking workers under Nikita Khrushchev at the center of the film happened more than a half a century ago.

Vysotskaya, who has described senior Soviet officials as believing they were "creating something...good for mankind," plays a diehard communist and war veteran who is torn between her loyalties to the Communist Party and her daughter.

Variety magazine called it a film with a "seriousness of...intent and...pristine craft," but with deadpan humor that takes aim at "bureaucrats and military men nervously passing the buck as far as it will go."

It had been tipped by some as a possible top-prize laureate in Venice.

But the Golden Lion award instead went to Nomadland, a film by U.S.-based Chinese director Chloe Zhao about a widow who escapes life in a struggling Nevada mining town by living in her van and taking temporary jobs along the way.

The Venice event is the first major film festival to go ahead in a live setting -- instead of mostly remote video -- since the coronavirus pandemic shut down much of Europe in March.

Based on reporting by Reuters

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