Unexpectedly, there’s a Russian Film Festival and no one told me

Firstly, a huge – just immense – apology to all TMINE readers for my absolute and complete failure to review any movies over the past few weeks. I’m so, so sorry! My boss is on holiday, and I’ve had zero time to do anything except do his and my job this whole time.

I hope I’ll have some time this week to review the new movies I’ve watched, but if I don’t, here are some one-line reviews so that you get a sense of whether they’re worth watching or not, IMHO:

  • The Harder They Fall (2021) (available on Netflix): Western featuring Black characters who really did exist, even if the story is made up. It tries hard to be a Quentin Tarantino movie, just without the N word, and has some very literate dialogue and great performances. It’s just not very interesting. Or maybe I just don’t like Westerns? 🤷‍♀️
  • Red Notice (2021) (available on Netflix): Ryan Reynolds is an art thief, the Rock is an FBI profiler who catches him, but they have to team up to capture the world’s best art thief, Gal Gadot. It’s hugely expensive and has a simply fabulous pedigree in virtually every regard, from the cast through to the writer/director and the amazing locations they go to. There’s also a great twist. It’s big problem? It’s just so formulaic, it feels like the plot came from the pull out page at the back of a GCSE revision aid.
  • Ghostbusters: Afterlife (2021) (in cinemas): first good sequel to the original Ghostbusters (1984). It’s a little bit too much of a sequel for its own good, retreading too much of the first movie, but it’s surprisingly good and even had me crying at the end. It’s also as much a retread of Goonies (1985), as it is Ghostbusters.

Russian Film Festival 2021

Talk about low key! BFI Player has apparently been running a Russian Film Festival for the past two weeks and didn’t bother to tell me. What are the BFI and Roskino’s marketing people thinking? No press releases or anything! Look at my name! Look at my job! And I only found out about it at the weekend.

Fortunately, it runs until 10 December, so there’s still plenty of time to watch everything and if you sign up for the free trial and subscribe using the code they give you, you get an extra month free (it’s only £4.99 a month anyway), so you can watch them all for nothing! Isn’t that the best thing?

The Siege of Leningrad, the Bolshoi Theatre, Leo Tolstoy and Konstantin Stanislavski may all be familar elements from Russian culture and history, but their representations amid these startling ten features are anything but. This collection of new features – many of which only played Russian cinemas as recently as this year – showcase the impressive range and originality of contempoary Russian filmmaking. While festival favourites like Aleksey Fedorchenko and Andrey Zaitsev may be known names to some, there are number of notable debut features here from prodigious new talents, waiting to be discovered.

Russian Film Festival 2021 runs from 12 November – 10 December 2021 and is organised in collaboration with ROSKINO, a state organisation representing the Russian audiovisual content industry internationally with the support of the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation and the Russian Cinema Fund.

Here’s the rundown:

  • Masha (2021)
  • A Siege Diary (2021)
  • Tell Her (2021)
  • Last ‘Dear Bulgary’ (2021)
  • The Story of an Appointment (2018)
  • The Conscience (2021)
  • The Bolshoi (2017)
  • Doctor Liza (2020)
  • The Humorist (2019)

I’ll be watching all of these and hopefully covering them in the TMINE Multiplex, in their own post or even individually, since December should be lovely and work-light for me – yes, I will be reviewing things again (yay!) – but for obvious reasons (look at my hair, look at my age), I had already seen Masha, which is a lovely and quite simple piece told in flashback about a young girl growing up in Russia in the 90s and discovering that the friends and family who’ve been looking after her are the new wave of gangsters that have emerged since the end of communism. It’s a mix of violence and coming-of-age story that’s deceptively uncomplicated, yet packed with emotion and shows the gradual decline into lawlessness over the period. The young star, Polina Gukhman, gives a wonderfully expressive performance and steals the movie. Loved it!


  • Natalia Romanova

    The Gloria Steinem of the jumpsuit set. Russian ballerina-assassin. Redheaded Scarlett Johansson look-alike (yes, really. No, I won't send you photos). TMINE's publisher and Official Movie Reviewer in Residence. I've written for numerous magazines, including Death Ray and Filmstar, and I've been a contributor to TMINE since I was at university and first discovered I really wanted to write about movies, oh so many years ago. Sob.