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MOSCOW — Plans by Moscow film festival topper Nikita Mikhalkov to find a new headquarters for the event, rendered moot several years ago, are back on the agenda.
The Oscar-winning director, who last month made a red carpet appearance with Brad Pitt, wants to build a “festival palace” at Luzhniki Stadium, a large sports complex on the Moscow river near Gorky Park.
The plans, first advanced during former Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov’s tenure, have been dusted off after further criticism of the current festival center, the Soviet-era Oktyabr Cinema, located a couple of miles from the Kremlin.
Popular national tabloid newspaper Trud – originally a Soviet-era publication aimed at working-class readers — dubbed the cinema “cramped, stuffy, dull and provincial” following last month’s festival, held during a humid heat wave.
Mikhalkov has reportedly likened his favored location to Venice, stating that it you could “bring guests in on trams, hold briefings and press conferences on the water: The Moscow river is no worse than the Lagoon!,” according to Trud.
But building a multiplex of 9 to 10 halls, each containing 100 to 350 seats, would be expensive, and most media commentators doubt that Mikhalkov’s suggestions it could be paid for by sponsorship are realistic.
Documentary director Vitaly Mansky — whose new film about the Russian gas line across Europe, Pipeline, has been scooping up prizes at festivals worldwide and who runs a tightly budgeted Moscow documentary festival Artdokfest — dismissed the idea as an expensive folly, comparable to “eating foie gras in besieged [wartime] Leningrad.”
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