A guide to the New East


Experimental theatre opens in Rostov-on-Don

An independent theatre focusing on experimental drama will open in Rostov-on-Don in southern Russia tomorrow. The theatre's name, 18+, is both a nod to its location on 18th Street but also the provocative nature of the plays it plans to stage. The first production, Papa, is a musical about life in Rostov-on-Don. It will be directed by Moscow-based director Yuri Muravitsky and feature local actors.

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WW2 film triumphs at Russia’s Oscars

White Tiger (2012)

World War Two drama White Tiger triumphed at The Golden Eagle Awards, Russia's equivalent to the Oscars, winning in five categories including best film, best script, cinematography, costume design and art direction. Karen Shakhnazarov's film about a tank driver who survives a horrific accident to become a Nazi hunter, was Russia's nomination for the foreign language movie at this year's Oscars but failed to make the shortlist. 

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Pussy Riot documentary wins Sundance gong

Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer, a documentary on the feminist punk group, picked up a Special Jury Award at the Sundance Film Festival on Saturday. Directors Michael Lerner, whose film Afghan Star was nominated for an Oscar, and Russian filmmaker Maxim Pozdorovkin followed the three members of the band for six months, covering their arrest and trial. Maria Alyokhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Yekaterina Samutsevich were arrested for their 40-second "punk prayer" in a Moscow cathedral in February 2012. They were found guilty of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred and sentenced to two years in jail, although Samutsevich was subsequently freed. 

Quirky Chekhov exhibition celebrates playwright’s 153rd birthday

Project Che, Tatyana Nekliudova

An unusual exhibition in honour of the playwright Anton Chekhov’s 153rd birthday will open in his hometown today. The not-for-profit Fluxus Gallery Belka & Strelka in Taganrog will showcase works by artists from all over Russia, including 20 pieces by local students, which explore Chekhov’s work and legacy in unexpected ways. In addition to traditional oil paintings, quirkier artworks include the retelling of The Steppe, one of the playwright’s iconic short stories, in the form of a woven rug. During the opening, an astroturf mat will be “shaved” to create a portrait of Chekhov. The free exhibition runs until 8 February. 

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Young designers give former factories new lease of life

Exhibition at Winzavod

The results of a competition to find creative ways of reusing abandoned industrial spaces in Russia will go on show at the Winzavod Centre for Contemporary Art in Moscow this Friday. The competition, Design Territory: Old Space - New Quality, was open to young architects and designers, and received more than 100 submissions.

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Vladimir Sorokin makes Man Booker prize shortlist

Photograph: RIA Novosti

Russian novelist Vladimir Sorokin has made it to the shortlist of 10 authors competing for the £60,000 Man Booker International Prize, one of the world's most prestigious literary awards. Sorokin, 57, is a postmodern Russian writer best known for Days of the Oprichnik. The novel is set in Moscow in 2028 at a time when the city is walled off from the rest of Europe and ruled by an Ivan the Terrible type figure, who is protected by an army of secret police. Sorokin, whose books were banned during the Soviet period, has had his work translated into roughly 20 languages.

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Music Film Festival kicks off with Oscar-nominated Les Miserables

Photograph: Cool Connections

A new festival exploring the relationship between film and music opens in Moscow today, kicking off with Tom Hooper's Oscar-nominated Les Miserables. The Music Film Festival will run in Moscow for a week before moving to St Petersburg and finally Novosibirsk. The programme features a mix of Hollywood musicals, European art-house classics and a raft of music biopics. The variety is intended to reflect the important role that music has played since the birth of cinema.

Berlinale adds five Russian films to competition line-up

A still from Winter Has Come (2012)

The Berlin film festival has announced a string of Russian films as part of its final line-up for the main competition, putting paid to doubts that none would feature this year. Director Boris Khlebnikov's much-awaited A Long and Happy LIfe will premiere in the main competition, the third in a trilogy of films that examines pastoral life and the people living on the periphery of  Russian society. The first two films, Free Floating and Help Gone Mad, both received widespread acclaim, establishing Khlebnikov as one of Russia's new wave of young directors to watch.  

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Aeroflot’s design-a-plane competition takes off

Aeroflot Russian Airlines is giving members of the public the opportunity to design the exterior of their newest jet in celebration of the firm's 90th birthday. Entrants should submit a design for the Sukhoi Superjet 100's external paint scheme by 28 February. Entries for the competition have been flying in since its launch on Monday, with more than 500 submitted so far

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Designer Ulyana Sergeenko enchants Paris fashion week with fairytale collection

Ulyana Sergeenko, Russian fashion designer and style icon, unveiled her Spring 2013 Couture collection to an audience including burlesque star Dita Von Teese Paris and Russian supermodel Natalia Vodianova today. From The Wizard of Oz to The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, inspiration from classic children's novels was evident throughout. Surpassing them all as head muse was Scarlett O'Hara, played by Vivien Leigh in the Hollywood adaptation of Gone With the Wind. The response from Twitter and other social networks was instantly enthusiastic. 

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