Novye Izvestia has already reported about a scandal that provoked the refusal of director Andrei Konchalovsky to participate with his film Dear Comrades! in the “White Elephant” National Film Critics and Film Press Awards due to the fact that one of the nominees for the award was the famous investigation film by Alexei Navalny. This event received a quite expected continuation, which is reported in his blog by the Chairman of the White Elephant Expert Council, film critic Viktor Matizen, who first cited Konchalovsky's open letter to the founders of the award, in which he announced his decision:
"To the Chairman of the Expert Council
Film critics and press "White Elephant"
Dear Victor Eduardovich!
With regret I have to inform you that I made a difficult decision for myself and ask you to shoot my film Dear Comrades! with a nomination for the 2020 National Film Critics and Film Press Awards.
I am grateful to the Expert Council for the high assessment of the picture and its nomination for an award in six nominations. This award is for me one of the most important in Russian cinematography, as it means recognition of the artistic value of a film by the professional community - film experts and film critics, who judge the film from the standpoint of art.
In this regard, a few words about the nature of art. The artist shares his feelings. Not thoughts - because a philosopher shares thoughts, not ideas - because politicians share ideas. The artist creates images that should
communicate feelings and only then evoke ideas, thoughts about the essence of life, about ethical goals and, as a result, about beauty. This is the highest meaning of art for me. I try as best I can to be true to this higher meaning.
Therefore, I am sad to see that this year the nominee for the National Film Critics and Film Press Awards in the category "Event of the Year" is a publicistic project that can be considered as a political act, but in no way can receive marks according to the criteria of cinematography. It is as if an editorial in the newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda won the Literature Prize.
I'm sorry, but the error of the Expert Council deprived us this year of the opportunity to objectively assess the art of cinematography within the framework of a professional community..."
However, a week before this letter, Matizen received another, completely different content from an employee of the Konchalovsky Foundation:
“ Victor, good afternoon! I would like to ask you to inform us about the place and time of the event, as soon as it is known, so that we can schedule Andrei Sergeevich's visit to the award, and also a big request to send your logo / image of the award, so that we can make a post on Andrey Sergeevich's social networks, if we take some kind of prize. Thank you ... "
Thus, writes Matizen, at the time this letter was sent to Andrei Sergeevich was aware of the decision of the Expert Council of the White Elephant Prize to award Navalny's investigative films a special prize “Event of the Year”. Nevertheless, despite this, he intended to attend our ceremony and receive prizes in case it turns out that they were awarded to the "Dear Comrades". I do not know what forced or who forced the respected director to change his initial decision, but it is clear that this was political pressure.
I will also add that Konchalovsky's objections to the award of the Event of the Year prize to Alexei Navalny and his creative team do not stand up to scrutiny. Film journalism is a legitimate and internationally recognized genre of documentary cinema, which includes such well-known films as "Ordinary Fascism" by Mikhail Romm, "9/11 Fahrenheit" by Michael Moore and "The Murder Act" by Joshua Oppenheimer, and the works of Moore and Oppenheimer, such as and Navalny's films are investigative.
In addition, since Andrei Sergeevich spoke about feelings, I should note that Navalny's paintings primarily affect the feelings, and then only the other organs of perception, and this sensory impact attracted tens of millions of viewers to them and prompted the members of the Expert Council to mark them with a special a premium.
The critic publishes the official response of the Organizing Committee of the White Elephant Prize to Konchalovsky:
“In response to A. S. Konchalovsky’s statement about the removal of the film“ Dear Comrades! ”By the Expert Council of the National Film Press and Film Critics Award“ White Elephant ”, we report:
In accordance with the rules of the award, during the voting of the expert council, "a list of all domestic films, whose release or press screening took place in the period from December 1 of the previous year to November 30 of the current year," is considered.
The nomination of films by their creators or production companies, as well as their removal from nominations, is not provided. The author has the right to refuse to receive the award, but cannot withdraw his work from consideration by the community of film critics and film critics.
We regard the position of A. S. Konchalovsky as a refusal to receive the White Elephant Prize. If he is the winner in the nominations "Best Film" and "Best Director", the prize will not be awarded. "
(The rest of the nominated members of the Konchalovsky film crew, if they are the winners in their nominations, will be able to receive the awards they deserve).
Needless to say, Konchalovsky's decision, so harshly criticized by opposition film critics, did not remain without support. For example, the popular pro-government telegram channel "Kremlin Washerwoman" calls the "White Elephant" award itself toxic:
“Andrei Konchalovsky’s reluctance to participate in the“ White Elephant ”award nomination is explained by a split in this project, since the guild of film critics and film critics left the White Elephant founders. The reason is the persistence of the council members, many of whom are not even members of the Navalny pseudo revelatory film award club. Thus, the award from cinematic turned into a politically engaged one, became toxic and Konchalovsky's refusal to have any dealings with this dubious audience is quite understandable ... "
The well-known Russian director Andrei Smirnov , who at Echo of Moscow supported his colleague Andrei Konchalovsky, did not stand aside, saying that "one should not confuse a politician's project with art ..."
But the well-known journalist Yuri Bogomolov considered that Konchalovsky was "most likely pressured" by his brother Nikita Mikhalkov. And how he looked into the water. Just in the next issue of his television program "Besogon" Mikhalkov attacked the "White Elephant" with all his polemical power. Here is what Matizen writes in his new publication:
“Besogon-obscurantist in his program blurted out that the" white elephant "in the army called emissions of young soldiers. True, Google and Yandex have not heard of anything like that, but this is not interesting, but the fact that our educator does not know that the White Elephant is the highest order of the two countries. Moreover, he does not know that the phrase white elefant means a burdensome gift, otherwise he would have practiced on this. However, Nikita Sergeevich's sense of humor atrophied along with the director's talent, otherwise he would have found in his "Sunstroke" a less vulgar illustration of sexual intercourse than the reciprocating movement of steamer pistons, and in a blank shot he would have seen something militant - or, if consider the similarities between it and the porn term cumshot is something cinematic.
And here is the President of the Guild of Film Critics and Film Critics Kirill Razlogov, appointed by Mikhalkov, put in a word: "Many have removed their pictures from the White Elephant Prize... This is the author's right." Congratulations, citizen, you lied, Fagot said to Georges Bengalsky in a similar case. No one has yet managed to "remove" their film from our award, and no one has the right to do so. Plus no one tried.
It is clear that the forces are unequal, but it will be extremely interesting to watch how the film critics will dispose of the White Elephant Prize, will they retain their professional objectivity, having awarded the really best?