Welcome to the Larry411.com Guest Columnists! April 27, 2013
In my travels to the best film festivals in…
On Tuesday, November 5, 2013 I attended the US Premiere of Intimate Parts at the 2013 Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival. The screening took place at the historic Cinema Paradiso in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. It was a selection in the World Cinema Features section.
From writers/directors Natasha Merkulova and Alexey Chupov comes the erotic drama Intimate Parts (International title Intimnye mesta, Russian title Интимные места), a deliciously perverse mashup of social, political, moral, and sexual statements.
There’s the intellectual photographer who only takes photos of genitals for display on gallery walls. The frumpy, aging conservative woman on the morals board who, by day, seeks to ban personal behaviors and dictate what citizens can do with their (and others’) bodies. By night, she spends so much time with her beloved vibrator that the local store can’t keep enough batteries in stock. There’s the forlorn husband who can’t perform with his wife and the pretty boy who attracts women as well as men. There are gays, lesbians, and threesomes. There’s the man who hires prostitutes just to wash their hair and the adolescent boy who looks at them “for educational purposes only.” And, yes, there’s plenty of nudity. But clothes aren’t shed just by actors and actresses who are models of perfection. These are normal folk – young, old, thin, heavy, and just plain unattractive compared to what’s usually seen onscreen in a provocative, skin-filled flick. This isn’t soft porn and isn’t necessarily meant to titillate. But it might take some patience on the part of the viewer to get to the point of it all. Metaphors abound but the audience isn’t hit over the head with messages.
This is the first project for Chupov and only the second feature for Merkulova. Intimate Parts debuted at Russia's Kinotavr Open Film Festival in June, where it won Best Debut and Best Female Role (Yuliya Aug). It was nominated for the East of West Award at the prestigious Karlovy Vary Film Festival in the Czech Republic and went on to play South Korea’s Busan International Film Festival before arriving in Fort Lauderdale for the US Premiere, and has since played the Sputnik Russian Film Festival in Poland.
The loosely structured narrative keeps its cohesion and power due to a large ensemble filled with brave, generous actors who had great demands placed on them, physically and emotionally. The movie is dominated (perhaps submissively) by understated and poignant performances from Yuliya Aug as morals board member Lyudmila, Yuriy Kolokolnikov as photographer Ivan, Ekaterina Shcheglova as Eva, Olesya Sudzilovskaya as Svetlana, Nikita Tarasov as Alexey, Mikhail Gurovich and Mariya Krekshina as his son and daughter, Timur Badalbeyli as Boris, Kseniya Katalymova as Olga, and writer/director Aleksey Chupov as Sergey.
Merkulova and Chupov are backed by a creative team that's relatively new, as well. This is cinematographer Mart Taniel’s eleventh feature and the second for editor Ru Hasanov. The understated style of Intimate Parts is reflected in both its barebones look and pindrop sound. Shot on location in Moscow on a $1.5 million budget, the dramatic widescreen cinematography is characterized by long takes with slow camera movements, demanding patient editing (and viewing). Its film noir sensibility begins with practical lighting that gives the movie an undersaturated, washed out color palette of blues and grays through much of the picture. This near-monochromatic image is echoed by the extremely quiet nature of the film, with very little dialogue and a barely present score.
Sets are key to driving home the central points of the narrative. Homes of the upper middle class are characterized by stark blacks and whites with surroundings of gleaming glass and chrome. Large, airy rooms are lit by grand windows. Furnishings adopt clean lines while sharp geometric shapes cover beige walls. Oversized dining room tables keep distance between family members. In contrast, working class apartments are claustrophobic and cramped, with small windows, yellowing curtains, and fading, flowered wallpaper. The smell of cheap microwave meals wafts through from the tiny kitchen.
The overarching message is simple. Despite class differences, we’re all the same. We all share the same desires, hide the same secrets. Those who preach morality are the first to violate it. Intimate Parts is, ultimately, about the hypocrisy of those who would seek to judge, regulate, and censor the actions of others. It could be a church, or government, or family members, or schools, or a motion picture ratings board dictating what can be shown onscreen. With the extensive amount of nudity and variants of lust in the film, the irony is not lost on the audience.
Intimate Parts is a dark sexual melodrama that is sad, funny, disturbing, enlightening, and powerful. At its heart, the film exposes the hypocrisy of the right wing and those who would censor and regulate others' actions. But it does so in a provocatively entertaining way, with awkward comic relief amidst uncomfortable erotic encounters.
NOTE: I selected Intimate Parts as one of my Top 7 Foreign Language Narratives from the 2013 Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival. It was produced by Bakur Bakuradze, Zaur Bolotaev, Julia Mishkinene, and Alexander Plotnikov for Russia's Vita Aktiva, Lemon Films Studio, Focus Plus Cinema, and Look-film. Antipode Sales and Distribution has rights. It has a running time of 78 minutes. A domestic distribution deal awaits.
The official trailer is below. CAUTION: MATURE CONTENT. It is NSFW and contains male and female frontal nudity. Below the trailer is a set of stills.
Official Sales Site: antipode-sales.biz
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In my travels to the best film festivals in…