Odessa Film Festival

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July 20, 2011, 5:29 p.m. | Op-ed — by Leigh Turner
The red carpet heaves with talent including John Malkovich, Russian filmmaker and actor Nikita Mikhalkov and many legendary Odesa comedy stars including the "Masks" of Chaos Shakespeare fame. Above, gleaming gilt cherubs frolic.

I'm at the fabulous Odesa opera house for the opening of this year's Odesa International Film Festival. With six British films on show including "Submarine" in competition, a Monty Python retrospective and British filmmakers taking part in master classes during the week, there's a strong UK presence, supported by the British Council.

I'm delighted to meet Patricia Casey, producer of the first Python film, "And Now For Something Completely Different" and to see the opening film, the remarkable "The Artist", made in the style of a silent movie, set in 1927 and worth watching for Bérénice Bejo alone (some images, and a trailer, here).

Odessa International Film Festival red carpet 2

I've long had a soft spot for Odesa, and it's good to visit for a day of calls and the opening of the film festival. With its clear theme - a focus on comedy - some world-class venues and worldwide name recognition (thanks in part to famous Soviet movie "Battleship Potemkin", a genuine silent movie made in 1925) , the festival looks set to flourish.

You can see some photos from the opening here.

Leigh Turner has been the British Ambassador to Ukraine since June 2008. You can read all his blog entries at (in English) or (Ukrainian)
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