Moscow film fest gears up for 31st edition

Fest to include inaugural Moscow co-production forum

MOSCOW -- The 31st Moscow International Film Festival will open Friday with the film "Tsar" by jury chairman Pavel Lungin, which premiered at the Festival de Cannes last month in Un Certain Regard.

Sixteen movies from Bulgaria, Hungary, Iran, Japan, the U.S., Poland, Russia, Ukraine and other countries will compete for the main prize, the Golden St. George.

Among the competition's front runners are "Melodiya dlya sharmanki" (Melody for a Barrel Organ), a story about stepbrother and stepsisters trying to find their fathers in the big city following the death of their mother, by Ukrainian director Kira Muratova, who once won a Silver Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival, and "Palata Nomer 6" (Ward No. 6), an adaptation of Anton Chekhov's mysterious paradoxical and disturbing story by Russian veteran director Karen Shakhnazarov.

Hollywood will be represented in the main competition by Noah Buschel's "Missing Person," a modern-day film noir in which a detective confronts an odd cast of characters while tailing a mysterious man traveling with a Mexican boy.

Just over 400 films will be shown as part of the festival's various programs, including the retrospectives of films by Lungin, as well as India's Shyam Benegal, Poland's Jerzy Skolimowski, Armenia's Arutyun Khachatryan and Italy's Marco Ferreri.

From Saturday-Monday, the Moscow Co-production Forum will be held for the first time, sponsored by the state-run international film cooperation agency Sovexportfilm with the participation of the European Audiovisual Entrepreneurs. The forum, which will be focused on Russia-originated or Russia-related international film projects, is expected to become an annual event at the festival.

The festival's prizes will be handed out at the closing ceremony on June 28, which will be followed by the Russian premiere of Michael Mann's "Public Enemies."