Young filmmakers look at contemporary Russia

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While the numbers may be impressive for mainstream Russian films in domestic release, the expanding international profile of Russian cinema is fueled in large part by young filmmakers who are pushing the boundaries of Russian cinema.

Alexei Popogrebsky and Boris Khlebnikov, both 36, and their producer, Roman Borisevich, 33, all of whom are native Muscovites, are developing their own cinematic language rooted in simple storytelling and everyday reality.

With the success of their joint directing debut, 2003's "Roads to Koktebel," Popogrebsky and Khlebnikov were both able to move on to respective careers as solo directors. Borisevich, for whom "Roads to Koktebel" was a sophomore effort, has turned their collective success into something of a cottage industry with the founding of the Koktebel film company in 2003, which to date has produced all of their subsequent films, including Khlebnikov's "Free Floating" (2006), Popogrebsky's "Simple Things" (2007) and Khlebnikov's new untitled effort, which recently wrapped shooting.

Contrary to the crowd-pleasing blockbusters that have transformed Russian cinema of late , Popogrebsky and Khlebnikov's work is deceptively simple, and probably wouldn't exist without a healthy dose of government backing.

"Without government support, we would not have made the films we've made," Borisevich admits. "The government's contribution to 'Koktebel's $500,000 budget was about 70%."

All of the Khlebnikov-Popogrebsky-Borisevich films have been shot on location and have a refreshingly minimalist aesthetic. The film's stories, which follow the lives of everyday people, are uncomplicated and firmly rooted in the real world.

"I've often thought of why I make such films," Borisevich declares. "These stories seem to me to be recognizable from real life. I don't really like art house cinema. I like quality cinema. I'm interested in interesting stories, whether they are commercial or not. I want a film to teach people something. I want the viewer, after having seen the film, to be able to draw some conclusions about life."
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