NICE, June 17 (Itar-Tass) - The first festival of Russian films ended in Nice late on Sunday with applause to actor Gerard Depardieu who had played the main role in a new Russian film titled “Rasputin”. More than 2,500 people gathered in the Acropolis Palace of Congresses on the festival’s final night to see the new picture. All the tickets had been sold out.
Christian Estrosi, the mayor of Nice, thanked Nikolai Borodachyov, the head of the State Film Fund of Russia and one of the founders of the Russian film project.
"I was very glad to see the birth of a festival of Russian cinema and I am particularly happy that it had taken place in Nice,” Estrosi said.
“Russian culture has made an invaluable contribution to the world cultural treasury. However, it remains pretty much unknown to many people. That is why I am particularly pleased to welcome this new undertaking and open the world of Russian cinema to our audiences,” the mayor of Nice went on to say.
Estrosi also praised Gerard Depardieu who had been the first to suggest holding Days of Russian Cinema in Nice.
"This festival would have never taken place without your, Gerard. You can always feel at home in Nice. We should not judge people by the color of their passports. The most important thing is a human character and controversy that makes us human,” Estrosi said addressing Depardieu who was the party’s honored guest.
For his part, Nikolai Borodachyov thanked the people, who had been packing the halls of Acropolis and the nearby Cinematika movie theatre, over the last few days and said that the festival of Russian films would not be a one-time event and would certainly return to Nice next year.
"We have just discussed this question with Mayor Estrosi and arrived at the conclusion that the festival should be held annually,” Borodachyov said. “When I saw the eyes of people filled with joy, I understood that we had made the right choice. It is culture and only culture that unites the two great nations - the Russians and the French,” Borodachyov added.
The showing of the new Russian feature film “Rasputin” in which Gerard Depardieu appeared in the title role was the finishing stroke of the Russian film festival.
The film is devoted to one of the most dramatic periods of Russian history. It went on general release in France for the first time though initially it had been intended only for television. Depardieu, who was extremely busy at shootings in Russia and the United States, found a free evening to fly to Nice just for a few hours to be present at the run.
"Good evening! - Depardieu greeted the hall in Russian, almost without an accent.
“I love Russia. It is a great country which has given the world incredible actors, musicians and writers,” Depardieu went on to say. He added that the audience was another thing that admired him in Russia. "You fall in love with it against your will. It’s hard to stay indifferent to its immense spirituality,” the artist stressed.
Gerard Depardieu said that the role of Rasputin was of special importance to him. Apart from a very interesting historical period in which the film is set, the actor drew unexpected parallels between the film character and his personal life.
"I grew up in a family where everything was permeated with religion, various beliefs and even magic. When I was a child, my parents did not give me medicine. My granny treated me with her own hands and energy,” Depardieu went on to say.
In conclusion, he promised to return to Nice next year to present a new festival program, which, he thinks, will be devoted to the ethnic diversity of Russia’s regions.
“We will bring some song and dance companies from Mordovia who will sing Mordovian folk songs. We are also planning to organize an exposition so that people could see this beautiful land,” Depardieu said.
In his interview with the French press, the first over the past six months, Depardieu spoke about Mordovia which had become almost a second homeland for him. The interview was published in “Journal de Dimanche” on Sunday, the day when the actor arrived in Nice.
"I live in Russia. I do business there. I am engaged in cinema work. I have a private enterprise in Russia. I pay taxes,” the actor said.
“At present, I am creating an ecological tourism firm in Saransk. I am working with wonderful people from local villages. It’s absolutely safe there. The woods and nature are just fascinating. I wish you could learn more about it and about Vladimir Putin. He does a lot for culture, for opera, for the development of St. Petersburg as well as for the restoration of cultural heritage, churches and monasteries. And one more thing, the Russians are very fond of the French language. They like Viktor Hugo, Honore de Balzac and Alexander Dumas…And here? I do not even know the name of that young lady from the Ministry of Culture,” Depardieu stressed.
In saying so, he repeated that a change of citizenship was not significant for him at all because state borders did not exist for him.
"I have seven passports from countries, which I love. Well, I would like to have seven passports. I am planning to apply for an Algerian passport and the passports of some other countries. That would save me the trouble of applying for visas. I repeat that I consider myself to be a free person and a citizen of the world,” Depardieu emphasized.
The festival of Russian films in Nice was timed to coincide with the 400th anniversary of the Romanov House marked this year. The history of the tsarist dynasty depicted by several generations of Russian film makers was the festival’s central theme. For the first time, the French audiences saw rarely shown pre-revolutionary films from the archives of the State Film Fund of Russia. Russian and French actors, producers, historians and film critics were present at the viewing.
"The public warmly greeted the guests. Sometimes, the shows were followed by interesting discussions,” Oleg Agishin, an official spokesman of the State Film Fund of Russia in southern France, told Itar-Tass.
“Surprisingly, the tickets were sold out almost every night. Although, prior to the festival we had been told that it would be impossible to gather large audiences in Nice at this time of year. I am happy that everything went well. The most important thing for us is to make people happy,” Agishin said.