Feature film about Orthodox monk sweeps Russian film awards
- Sophia Kishkovsky
Moscow (ENI) -- A feature film about repentance - as embodied by a Russian Orthodox monk tormented by his wartime past - has swept top prizes at Russia's main film awards ceremony. "Ostrov," or "Island," took six Zolotoi Oryol, or Golden Eagle awards, including best film, director and actor at a ceremony on 27 January.
The film stars Pyotr Mamonov, a Soviet-era underground rock star who has become a devout Orthodox believer and now lives in an isolated village. It was directed by Pavel Lungin, previously most famous for "Taxi Blues", a perestroika-era film also starring Mamonov, and "Tycoon: A New Russian," a fictionalised take on the rise of Boris Berezovsky, a controversial magnate now living in British exile.
In his acceptance speech, compared by some Russian media to a sermon, Mamonov condemned his own popularity as idolatry and called on Russian women to stop having abortions.
Structured like a parable, "Ostrov" tells the tale of Father Anatoly, a fictional monk who for decades seeks God's forgiveness for shooting a fellow monk at the Nazis' behest during the Second World War to save his own life. The film is set in the 1970s in a remote northern island monastery, a timeframe for which some have taken the film to task since the church was then still repressed by the State.
Patriarch Alexei II, and other senior clerics, praised "Ostrov" for its profound depiction of faith and monastic life. Addressing a church conference on 29 January, the Patriarch called "Ostrov" a "vivid example of an effort to take a Christian approach to culture".
"Ostrov", which was the closing film at the 2006 Venice Film Festival, was also a top box office draw in Russia's state-of-the-art new Dolby-outfitted multiplexes after its November release, playing alongside Hollywood blockbusters. Its television broadcast on 7 January, the Russian Christmas, drew ratings during the extended holiday season, second only to President Vladimir Putin's New Year's Eve address.
Lungin has said of his film: "We tried to convey in it, a sense that there is a God, that we are not alone on this earth."
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]