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BFI London: Russia's State-Backed Film Board Promotes Doc About Pussy Riot's Origins

Pussy Riot incarcerated - H 2012
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Working with the Russian Federation's ministry of culture, official state film promoter Roskino is publicizing "Tomorrow" at the London festival -- a documentary about a local art-terrorist movement that was the precursor to the all-girl punk group.

LONDON – Russian filmmakers and their work unspooling during the BFI London Film Festival will be promoted by official state promoter Roskino with the support of the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation for the first time in the history of British shindig.

The push by the Russian state aims to give a boost to a total of five features programmed in this year's line-up, a dramatic increase in numbers on previous years.

Among the titles with Roskino's stamp of approval is Andrey Gryazev's Tomorrow (Zavtra), which screens in competition for the festival’s Sutherland Award, the nod to honor the director "of the most original and imaginative first feature" screening during the festival.

And another Russian title from award-winning documentary filmmaker Sergei Loznitsa comes to the festival with his second fiction feature In The Fog, following its In Competition screening during the Festival de Cannes, where it won the FIPRESCI prize.

Another Russian filmmaker enjoying state-backed promotion is Vasili Sigarev, in town with Living, the second feature from one of the most controversial dramatists and filmmakers working in Russia.

Sigarev's film was nominated for a Tiger Award during the Rotterdam International Film Festival early this year and won the Silver Camera 300 at the world’s oldest festival dedicated to cinematographers in Bitola, Macedonia.

His first feature Wolfy was an award winner at Karlovy Vary three years ago and his stage play Black Milk has enjoyed runs in both New York and London.  

Also attending the festival, which runs through Oct. 21, is actress Maria Atlas-Popova (I'm Going To Change My Name), producer Roman Borisevich (Living) and Roskino director general Catherine Mtsitouridze alongside directors Mikhail Segal, Gryazev, Maria Saakyan and Loznitsa.

A playwright, musician, poet and promo director, Short Stories is the third film from Segal while I'm Going To Change My Name is the second feature by Saakyan.

Gryazev’s Tomorrow follows the Russian art-terrorist movement Voina, some members of which went on to form the band Pussy Riot whose protests against Vladimir Putin inside Moscow’s Christ the Saviour cathedral landed then in jail.

Aside from its work at international film festivals with titles and talent, Roskino also supports the distribution of Russian films and is on the hunt for investors and partners to explore opportunities for co-production and filming in Russia.

Earlier this year it opened a US branch in Los Angeles.

It is aiming to unveil details of a deal with VOD operator Hulu during the upcoming American Film Market in Santa Monica which runs Oct. 31 through Nov. 7.

Russia is one of the world’s fastest-growing markets for film with 406 films released, attracting 172 million admissions a year in 2011