The latest movie by controversial Russian director and Oscar winner Nikita Mikhalkov has opened in the Serbian capital Belgrade.
Set in the Ukrainian province of Crimea recently annexed by Russia, ‘Sunstroke’ is based on the novel of the same name by Ivan Bunin, the first Russian laureate of the Nobel prize for literature.
A love story set in the Crimean peninsula in the 1920’s, the movie was actually shot in the Southern Ukrainian city of Odessa.
Mikhalkov says his film is not about war, but about people wondering how it is possible for brothers to kill each other.
A close friend of Russian president Vladimir Putin, he said he himself was surprised at how fast the situation in the region had escalated.
‘‘Only two years ago we were filming in Odessa, a beautiful, warm southern city with a wonderful atmosphere. Odessa is now like another planet and everybody knows what has happened. About 100 people were burned alive, just like that. Of course, we didn’t know what was about to happen at the time, but sometimes artistic creation can be premonitory,” he said at the film’s press conference in Belgrade.
The son and grandson of members of the Soviet intellectual elite, Mikhalkov is an acclaimed Russian filmmaker known for his vocal belief in Russia’s greatness and for wielding considerable power over his country’s film-funding agency, which has earned him criticism from fellow filmmakers. The director, however, insists that devotion to his country has nothing to do with his art.
‘Sunstroke’ by Nikita Mikhalkov is out now in Russia.