Clock ticks for Moscow fest

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After months of infighting, the 29th edition of the Moscow International Film Festival has appointed a new program director — just 11 weeks before its launch (HR 3/30).

Finnish cineaste Kirsi Tykkylainen, former head of the international department of the Finnish Film Fund, will take the festival's reins, according to the Russian Federal Agency on Culture and Cinematography, Roskultura.

Tykkylainen is tasked with attracting a range of international premieres before the festival begins its 10-day run June 21.

Tykkylainen, who once worked in the Finnish embassy in Moscow, is credited with having played a major role in bringing Finnish film to attention and acclaim in Russia.

After nearly a year of internal conflict that led to longtime festival administrator Interfest losing a bid to renew its contract, the appointment of a non-Russian to such a key role may be a wise move, industry insiders said Thursday.

"Russians love Finnish film because of Tykkylainen's work to promote Finnish film here. She speaks perfect Russian and is held in high regard," one Russian film critic said.

The announcement of Tykkylainen's appointment came a week after news broke that festival director Nikita Mikhalkov had ousted Interfest following a falling out with its head, Renat Davletyarov.

The new festival selection committee has its work cut out for it. The internecine squabbles mean that not a single film has yet been officially invited or programmed, according to insiders.

"No directors or producers have been approached yet, but Mikhalkov is nothing if not a pragmatist and he and his team will know what films they are after," one insider said.
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