Moscow’s annual Beat Film Festival is something of an eclectic beast, encompassing documentaries on a variety of topics from musicians’ biographies and unlikely rave chronicles, to architecture and the urban environment. But music remains at the heart of the program, which Russian critics have rated highly for its focus on telling the stories of contemporary electronic artists.
Nastya Gulenkova, communications manager of the Beat Film Festival, hails the caliber of the films at this year’s event. The festival, which runs from May 25 to June 4, includes a landmark biography of the last years of musical shape-shifter David Bowie, a political “film installation” starring Cate Blanchett and what Gulenkova describes as an “astonishing film” about the Arabian aristocracy in Qatar.
Each year Beat presents new movies about contemporary culture, with organizers generally selecting films that have been released within the past two years and have never been screened in Russia before.
This year the team have made a few exceptions, though — “Bird on a Wire,” a film about Leonard Cohen, was shot in 2010, and “Hype,” a grunge-era documentary, dates back to early 1996. All films, except for the national competition program (in Russian) and “The Challenge,” are screened in English with Russian subtitles, with some to be shown more than once.
The opening movie is one of the sensations of last year’s Sundance film festival — the hedonistic yet melancholic “All These Sleepless Nights,” which earned director Mikael Marczak a World Cinema Directing Award at the U.S. festival in the Documentary category. In a spellbinding manner characteristic of Terrence Malick, the film follows the present-day generation of 20-somethings in their constant movement between dusk and dawn, club and apartment, boredom and agony.