At the 23rd edition of the Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival, Russian director Andrei Konchalovsky will be presented with one of the festival’s two Lifetime Achievement Awards. The festival will also screen two of his films: the Northern European premiere of his latest film Il Peccato (Sin) and House of Fools (2002).
The festival’s Lifetime Achievement Award is an honorary accolade handed out each year to two people, a filmmaker or an audiovisual industry professional who has made a profound artistic or otherwise noteworthy impact on cinema at a regional and global level. Past winners include Liv Ulmann, Aki Kaurismäki, Arvo Pärt, István Szabó, Jörn Donner, Friðrik Þór Friðriksson and many others.
Andrei Konchalovsky’s career spans over five decades, during which he has directed numerous films and series that have become an undisputed, integral part of film history: from early successes like The Story of Asya Klyachina (1966) and Uncle Vanya (1970), adapted from the famous Chekhov play and regarded as one of the greatest works of Russian cinema of all time, to House of Fools (2002), a Russian-French co-production about an asylum on the Russian-Chechnya border, The Postman’s White Nights (2014) and Paradise (2016), all of which won him awards at the Venice International Film Festival. He has also made popular English-language films such as Runaway Train (1985), which earned three Academy Award® nominations, Maria’s Lovers (1984), Duet for One (1986), Shy People (1986) and Homer and Eddie (1989).
A regular in the programmes of A-category film festivals, Konchalovsky has won the Venice Silver Lion (Best Director) award twice, for both The Postman’s White Nights (2014) and Paradise (2016), and the Grand Special Jury Prize for House of Fools (2002); the Cannes Grand Prize of the Jury for Siberiade (1979); the San Sebastian Golden Shell for Homer and Eddie (1989) and Silver Shell for Uncle Vanya (1970); and the Karlovy Vary Crystal Globe for A Lover’s Romance (1974), to name a few.
Konchalovsky has also earned considerable acclaim on the small screen, having directed landmark epics such as The Odyssey (1997), for which he won an Emmy award for best director, and The Lion in Winter (2003), which received a Golden Globe award for costume design alongside multiple Emmy® awards and nominations. He has also directed numerous opera and theatrical productions across Europe and the United States.
Black Nights Film Festival has screened several of Konchalovsky’s films in past editions: House of Fools in 2002, Gloss in 2007 and The Postman’s White Nights in 2014. At the 23rd edition, the festival we will be screening two of his films. On the 25th of November, PÖFF will screen House of Fools with Konchalovsky and lead actor Julia Visotskaya in attendance. The following day, on the 26th of November, Konchalovsky will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award at the gala screening of his latest film, Il Peccato (Sin). It will be the film’s Northern European premiere.
Il Peccato (Sin), a Russian-Italian co-production, is a portrait of the Renaissance artist Michelangelo Buonarroti which follows him through the agonies and ecstasy of his own creative genius as two rival noble factions compete for his loyalty. The film was entirely shot in Italy over the course of fourteen weeks. The film is produced by Andrei Konchalovsky Studios and Jean Vigo Italia with Rai Cinema. The Renaissance maestro is played by Alberto Testone (Pasolini: The Hidden Truth; Suburra).
Festival director and head of programme Mrs Tiina Lokk commented: “When I was a student, Andrei Konchalovsky’s sophomore film, The Story of Asya Klyachina, was among the first films that I can clearly remember leaving a profound artistic imprint in my memory - so fresh in form and style of shooting, part of a new cinematic wave of naturalism, after a long period of artistic stagnation and the depiction of unnatural Soviet heroes on screen. It truly shook up my world and I have followed his oeuvre ever since! I hope it is safe to say that if some directors are essentially ‘Russian,’ he is more of a ‘World’ director - a creative chameleon of sorts whose artistic form is ever-changing, while his true essence remains the same.”
She went on to add: “We are excited to be the second festival after Rome to screen his latest film Il Peccato (Sin)! An intriguing piece of work, truly worthy of the label ‘arthouse blockbuster’! I can sense some similarities between him and the protagonist Michelangelo - the endless, almost uncontrollable drive to create, whatever the material or personal cost, whatever the obstacles!”
Bio of Andrei Konchalovsky
Director, screenwriter and producer Andrei Konchalovsky has enjoyed equally distinguished careers directing on both stage and screen. His best-known film credits range from Uncle Vanya (1970), adapted from the famous Chekhov play and regarded as one of the greatest works of Russian cinema of all time, to House of Fools (2002) a Russian-French co-production about an asylum on the Russian-Chechnya border. He has also made popular English-language films such as Runaway Train (1985), which earned three Academy Award® nominations, Maria’s Lovers (1984), Duet for One (1986), Shy People (1987) and Homer and Eddie (1989).
He has also earned acclaim on the small screen for landmark epics such as The Odyssey (1997), for which he won an Emmy® award for best director and Lion in Winter (2003) which received a Golden Globe® award for costume design alongside multiple Emmy® awards and nominations.
Born in Moscow, Andrei Konchalovsky studied music in his youth, becoming a skilled pianist, before enrolling in the cinema program at the Gerasimov Institute of Cinematography (VGIK), where he studied under Mikhail Romm. His feature film debut, The First Teacher (1965) was based on the eponymous book by Chingiz Aitmatov, set in modern-day Kyrgyzstan in the decades following the Russian Civil War. His subsequent films include The Story of Asya Klyachina (1966), which was held back from release until 1988 due to government censorship and eventually received a Nika Award (Russia’s version of the Academy Awards) for best picture; A Nest of Gentlefolk (1969), A Lover’s Romance (1984) and Siberiade (1979), an epic film in four parts depicting life in Siberia across much of the 20th century which won the Grand Prix at the 1979 Cannes Film Festival and brought Konchalovsky to the attention of international producers. This led him to such mainstream Hollywood projects as Tango & Cash (1989) and Homer and Eddie (1989).
Konchalovsky has directed numerous opera and theatrical productions across Europe and the United States, including the 2006 production of King Lear at Theatre Na Woli, Poland, Miss Julie at the Malaya Bronnaya Theatre, Moscow and Chekhov’s The Seagull which played at the Mossovet Theatre in Moscow, the Odéon Theatre in Paris and various venues in Italy. Other productions include War and Peace at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, Oedipus at Colonus in Italy, and Queen of Spades and Eugene Onegin at La Scala in Italy, the latter which was also staged in Paris.
Early in his career, Konchalovsky used a double surname and was credited as Mikhalkov-Konchalovsky. He later adopted his mother's maiden name to distinguish himself from his younger brother, Nikita Mikhalkov, also an accomplished director. Indeed, the entire family is artistic: his great-grandfather, grandfather and mother were celebrated poets, and his father a noted playwright.
2010 marked the release of Andrei Konchalovsky’s much-anticipated The Nutcracker in 3D, a cinematic adaptation of the traditional fairytale. This musical CGI spectacular featured Elle Fanning in a central role, as well as Nathan Lane, Richard E. Grant and John Turturro in the principal roles. Lyrics were provided by Academy Award® winning lyricist Sir Tim Rice. In the same year, Konchalovsky featured in Hitler in Hollywood, a mockumentary thriller about the making of a bio-doc about Micheline Presle, which evolves into a thrilling investigation of the long-hidden truth behind European cinema – Hollywood's unsuspected plot against the European motion picture industry. The film won the FIPRESCI Prize at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, where it was nominated for a Crystal Globe.
In 2012, Konchalovsky directed, wrote and produced The Battle for Ukraine, which provided an in-depth analysis of Ukraine’s persisting struggle to escape the close embrace of its neighbour, Russia. This extensive project took almost three years to make and involved an array of Ukrainian, Russian and American historians, politicians and journalists, as well as former Presidents Aleksander Kwasniewski of Poland, Rudolf Schuster of Slovakia and Eduard Shevardnadze of Georgia; Secretary-General of the United Nations Kofi Annan, former Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, and businessman Boris Berezovsky.
Konchalovsky’s next project saw him serving as co-producer on a story previously untold on film. Filmmaker Margy Kinmonth invites The Prince of Wales to take a journey through history, celebrating the creative side of his family and revealing an extraordinary treasure trove of artworks created by past and present royal hands. Set against the spectacular landscapes of the Royal Estates and containing insights into works by members of the royal family throughout the centuries. This includes the watercolours of the Prince of Wales’. Royal Paintbox (2013) explores a colourful palette of intimate family memory and observation.
Konchalovsky returned to the director’s chair with The Postman’s White Nights (2014), which won the Silver Lion at the 71st Venice Film Festival. A blend of drama and documentary, the film tells the true story of Aleksey Tryapitsyn, who plays himself, a postman in a remote Russian village on the shores of Lake Kenozero. In 2016, Konchalovsky won his second Silver Lion at the Venice Film Festival with Paradise, with the famous Russian actress Yulia Vysotskaya leading the cast in the role of Olga, alongside Christian Clauss and Philippe Duquesne. The film offers an unprecedented look at the Holocaust through the collective eyes of a Russian aristocrat, a member of the French Resistance and a senior German officer, whose lives intertwine in the dramatic circumstances of the war.
On 28 August 2017, after a long period of preparation, Konchalovsky began production on his latest project, Il Peccato (Sin), dedicated to the great Renaissance artist Michelangelo. The film had its world premiere at the Rome Film Festival and will have its Northern European premiere at the 23rd Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival, where the director will receive the festival’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Konchalovsky is now in production for the film Dear Comrades, based on the true story of a 1962 workers’ demonstration in Soviet Novocherkassk.
Tallinn Black Nights film festival runs from the 15th of November until the 1st of December.
The film stills and presskits of the programme can be found HERE.
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