Friday, December 19, 2014


I'm fascinated by Russian history - what the Russian people have had to endure throughout their existence is truly tragic.  When I got an invitation to go to Ekaterinburg for their Kinoprobe Film Festival, I jumped at the chance.  Ekaterinburg  is famous as the place where Czar Nicholas II and his entire family were assassinated by the Communists in 1918. 

As I arrived in the city, I soon realized that this place was much farther north than I expected - every day it was 20 degrees below zero.  I couldn't walk more than a block without my face turning into an ice cube.  I severely underdressed.

The festival itself was wonderful - it's mostly aimed at students who want to discover animation, documentaries and live-action films.  Even though my films had never shown in Ekaterinburg before, I was very well-known there.  I soon found out why, when I tried to sell my DVD's - everyone already had all of my films, via the internet or black market.

My master class was packed with a lot of fans, and when I told them about my next project, "Hitler's Folly", they became obsessed.  They all wanted to know more about my Hitler faux documentary.  In fact, there was another Russian faux documentary there, about the Russian's early moon landing and exploration in the 1930's.  It was quite good.

I had forgotten to bring my special screening copy of "Idiots and Angels" for a grand Ekaterinburg premiere - and they said not to worry, they'd rip it off the internet.

I was able to visit the shrine of the location of the assassination of the Czar and his family, the original home where they were killed in the basement was torn down in the 1950's, and a large Orthodox cathedral was built in its place, the Church on Blood in Honour of All Saints.

Inside, it's your usual Orthodox cathedral, with lots of candles, incense and holy icons.

I had to go to the basement to find a crudely put together scrapbook display about the deaths of Czar Nicholas and Czarina Alexandra and their 5 children - Tatiana, Olga, Mario, Anastasia and Alexis.

I asked around about the darker side of their rule, especially Rasputin - and no one seemed to want to talk about him.  Too bad.

I give the Kinoprobe Festival a B-, mostly because it's so damn cold!

--Bill P.

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