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Two Russian films

The battle of Russia's past is played out in two films: one indescribably cynical, the other too painful to watch

on 12th june 2000, Russia celebrated the tenth anniversary of its new sovereignty. To mark the occasion, Vladimir Putin hosted a reception, giving out prizes for achievements in arts and literature. The prize for cinema-“the most important of all arts,” as Lenin said-went to Nikita Mikhalkov, a politically ambitious director and actor, for The Barber of Siberia, an uplifting hymn to the Russian state. Mikhalkov, whose father received Stalin’s award in the same Kremlin hall, took the microphone to thank Putin.

“Your Excellency, Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, dear friends,” said Mikhalkov, “I am convinced that the national idea which…

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