Critics' Seminar

The Norwegian Film Critics Association has put together a panel with one critic and people responsible for programming in addition to an academic. At least one of the participants works in Northern Norway - where people-to-people cooperation with Russia has a long tradition.

TIFF is showing a new Russian film, Captain Volkonogov Escaped by Aleksey Chupov and Natasha Merkulova. The film was supposed to be shown in Norwegian cinemas in the spring of 2022 but was pulled due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Several Ukrainian filmmakers have claimed that any film made with funds from the Russian state helps support Russia in a period where the country is the aggressor and that it should be boycotted. The film was boycotted by Kosmorama earlier this year.

The festival in Karlovy Vary in the Czech Republic, on the other hand, chose to show it in the summer of 2022. The festival management emphasizes that they do not want a total boycott of Russian films. In a statement, they write that they want to show films that are critical of Russian society. Their decision to show Captain Volkonogov Escaped is justified by the fact that they want to support critical Russian filmmakers. The festival management writes that the film's story sheds light on moral corruption during the Stalin era, thus drawing a parallel to the current Russian regime.

"We believe that the film provides a fitting description of how the manipulative actions of a despotic leader can influence the mindset of the majority of the society, purposefully create enemies of the regime in the name of ideology and ruthlessly annihilate them, and how such actions ultimately lead to a national tragedy [...] In this sense, we see the film Captain Volkonogov Escaped as an indirect, but very distinct criticism of the current Russian state regime."

This statement provides a good basis for debate. The screening of the film raises important questions about the boycott of an aggressor in wartime, and in particular whether a boycott of cultural works is in a special position. We also ask if the film is good.

The panel will be moderated by film and music critic and editor Ida Madsen Hestman.

Time: Wednesday 6 pm
Place: Tromsø library
Organizer: Norwegian Film Critics Association

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