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Depiction of disability in film is focus of Syracuse International Film Festival program April 28
Depiction of disability in film is focus of Syracuse International Film Festival program April 28April 21, 2009Patrick Farrellpmfarrel@syr.edu
This year’s Syracuse International Film Festival will focus attention on how people with disabilities are depicted in film through a special program called “Russian Heroes of Disability.” The daylong program includes the screening of two Russian films, “Standing on the Edge” by Edward Topol and “No One But Us” by Sergei Govorukhin. The films focus on main characters who become disabled in Russia’s war in Afghanistan; both physical and psychological disabilities are explored.
The screenings are scheduled for Tuesday, April 28, at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m in the Medical Alumni Auditorium, Weiskotten Hall, 766 Irving Ave., on the SUNY Upstate Medical University campus. A panel discussion scheduled from 4:30-6 p.m. will include Russian filmmakers Govorukhin and Topol; Sharon Greytak, a filmmaker in the Department of Transmedia in Syracuse University’s College of Visual and Performing Arts (VPA); Liat Ben-Moshe from SU’s Center for Human Policy, Law, and Disability Studies; and Claudine Tinio Ward from the physical medicine and rehabilitation department at SUNY Upstate. Rebecca Garden from the bioethics and humanities department at SUNY Upstate will moderate the discussion. The program is free and open to the public; paid parking is available in the Irving Avenue Garage.
The film “Standing on the Edge” (2008), written and directed by Topol, will be screened at 2 p.m. The film is based on the true story of a frontier guard who has a talent for finding drugs about to be smuggled out of Afghanistan. Narco traffickers mutilate and try to kill him, but through the power of his will he survives, recovers and arranges for a spectacular revenge. The film’s violent beginning yields to a sensitive, uplifting portrayal of a courageous and moral man.”No One But Us” (2008), by Govorukhin, will be screened at 7:30 p.m. This beautifully made and psychologically powerful drama is based on real events in the six-year ethnic war in Tajikistan (on the border of Afghanistan). Eugeny, a military cameraman, has become used to putting his life at risk as he works with Russian border guards in special peacemaking missions. Shortly before leaving on a new military raid, he meets Natasha. Their love affair has a profound psychological effect on his life and job.
Topol is one of the most popular writers in Russia and the ex-Soviet republics. Among his novels are the international bestseller “Red Square” (Berkley Publishing Group, 1983), from which an eight-hour mini-series was made for Russian television. He is also known for “Deadly Games” (Quartet Books, 1984), “Red Snow” (Signet Books, 1988) and other works published in the United States, England, France, Germany, Holland, Japan, Norway and Russia. As a film writer, producer and director, Topol has produced “Cabin Boy of the Northern Fleet,” “The Underage,” “Mistakes of Youth,” and “Love at First Sight.” In 2008, he wrote, produced and directed the film “Standing on the Edge.” Other films made from his writings include “Montana” (2007-08) and “Vanechka” (2007).
Govorukhin graduated from Moscow’s Film Academy (script faculty). He has published several novels. In 1994-2005, Govorukhin was a war correspondent in conflict areas in Afghanistan, Tadzhikistan, Yugoslavia and Chechnya, where he was badly wounded in 1995. Govorukhin created the Rokada Charity Foundation for disabled war veterans, and he is a member of the Commission for Human Rights of the Russian Federation. As director general of his own Moscow-based production company, Return: 20th Century, Govorukhin has directed and produced the award-winning documentaries “Cursed and Forgotten” (1998), “Composition for the Vanishing Topic” (2001) and the feature “No One But Us” (2008).
About the Program
The idea for “Russian Heroes of Disability” grew from a longstanding connection between Russian producer/publisher Eugene Zykov and Owen Shapiro, the Maurice E. Shaffer and Dorothea I. Shaffer Professor in VPA and the artistic director of SYRFILMFEST ’09. “Russian films have come to the festival every year since 2003 at the suggestion of Eugene,” says Christine Fawcett-Shapiro, SYRFILMFEST ’09 producer. “This year, he recommended films for competition and then spoke to Owen about these very special films and the filmmakers. Owen and I spoke to Dr. Leslie Kohman about involving the Syracuse medical community and the SU disabilities program, and Dr. Kohman recommended involving the consortium.”
Two Russian filmmakers/producers, Ramil Khairulin and Tatyana Bogaeva of the nonprofit Organization for the Development of Autonomy in Innovative Technologies, agreed to sponsor screenings of the films in Syracuse. The program is co-sponsored by The Consortium for Culture and Medicine; SUNY Upstate Medical University; SU’s Center on Human Policy, Law and Disability Studies; the Syracuse Veterans Administration Medical Center, The Golisano Children’s Hospital, and Dr. and Mrs. Robert Neulander.
For more information about the “Russian Heroes of Disability” program or the Syracuse International Film Festival, contact Fawcett-Shapiro at (315) 443-8826 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit http://www.syrfilmfest.com/.