The FFM Festival in Los Angeles: Film, Food, Music, and Northern Life

Text taken from the UCLA Newsroom.

Mumiy Troll from Russia's Asian port, Vladivostok (Ilya Lagutenko [L])

UCLA will bring together popular and classical music artists, film, cuisine and graphic art from Russia, the Ukraine and the Baltics for “Far From Moscow,” a multi-venue series of free and ticketed campus events Dec. 9 through 11. The festival was curated by David MacFadyen, UCLA Professor of Comparative Literature and Musicology, in collaboration with Los Angeles transplant Ilya Lagutenko, leader of the popular Russian rock band Mumiy Troll. The festival is named after MacFadyen’s website, a resource that highlights more than 4,000 cutting-edge music artists from Russia, Ukraine, as well as Belarus Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.

“Learning need not be monastic; it can be considerably more fun and useful, too,” MacFadyen said. “We found good funding, worked with a famous Russian neighbor here on the Westside and produced a three-day event that joins us to considerable audiences beyond the campus and fosters long-term relationships with creative Los Angeles.”

Film. Food. Music. Life (FFM Festival)

MacFadyen hopes the festival will serve as a pilot format that he can return to in coming years to highlight different parts of the world, starting with Pacific Rim countries. He’s already eyeing a similar festival celebrating Japanese culture. A happy byproduct of producing Far From Moscow, he said, was an opportunity to show UCLA humanities students the possibility of careers outside of academia. MacFadyen believes tenure-track job goals should start to be viewed as the “alternative” profession for humanities students, rather than vice versa.

“Our attention should be focused on jobs away from imagined readerships, professorial posts or the fetishization of paper-based knowledge,” he said. “I've studied Russian literature and popular culture for a long time, so I decided to create a serious, yet boutique festival that would showcase the value of the humanities in job-based fields like cinema, comics, animation, live music promotion, even top-notch cuisine.”


Mujuice (Roma Litvinov, starring at UCLA's FFM Festival)

MacFadyen and his creative partner Lagutenko have also founded Pacific Sound and Vision, a nonprofit public-benefit corporation based in Los Angeles. One of the festival sponsors, Pacific Sound and Vision seeks to promote and encourage the performing arts between the nations and cultures of the Pacific Rim. Artists are available for interviews and journalists are invited to attend and review all performances.


In film, Far From Moscow presents six of the most important feature-length films released in Russia in 2016: “Queen of Spades,” “Good Boy,” “Collector,” “The Student,” “Vladivstok Vacation,” and “Icebreaker.” The film screenings are sponsored by as part of the Russian Film Week series.

The festival also celebrates experimental film and animation on Sunday, Dec. 11, with a presentation of newly restored Soviet animated shorts from the 1920s and 30s, set to new, electronica soundtracks composed by some of Russia’s most relevant artists. The evening is also home to a showcase of avant-garde shorts from the Moscow International Festival of Experimental Cinema. All films will be screened in the James Bridges Theater on campus. Tickets cost $15 for all film events and are available via Eventbrite.


A free outdoor concert will take place Saturday, Dec. 10 on UCLA’s Dickson Plaza, beginning at 2 p.m. The lineup includes one of Russia’s most respected rock ensembles, Mumiy Troll, along with popular artists from today’s electronica scene: DZA, Anton Maskeliade, and Mujuice. Ukraine's Pianoboy and Latvia's Shipsea will offer an insight into the equally vivid scenes of neighboring nations.

Dmytro Shurov, aka Pianoboy (Pianoбой, Kiev)

Three artists in contemporary classical music from Russia and the Ukraine will perform together for the first time in America, at UCLA’s Schoenberg Hall, including pianist Vadym Kholodenko (Gold Medalist of the Van Cliburn competition), violinist Andrey Baranov (winner of the Queen Elizabeth Competition) and cellist Boris Andrianov. Two programs, one at 7 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 9 and one at 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10, will include works from Shostakovich, Piazolla, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, Liszt, Tartini, Chausson and Ravel. Tickets for the classical performances cost $35 and are available via Ticketmaster.


A beautiful website and an awesome amount of work for the organizers. Congratulations (Seva Novgorodsev, BBC)


The FFM Festival presents an opportunity for a seated dinner in West Hollywood with Chef Vladimir Mukhin, of Moscow’s noted White Rabbit restaurant, ranked among the top 20 chefs in the world, celebrating the very best of contemporary Russian cuisine. Mukhin will be joined by Anatoly Kazakov, Russia’s Best Young Chef in 2012. The festival will also welcome Dmitry Blinov (the nation’s greatest culinary artist according to GQ Magazine), and Georgy Troyan. Dining location and ticketing details to be announced.


Moscow’s Kommissiya festival, founded in 2002, celebrates Russia’s best graphic artists every spring with a wide range of elite prizes. Many of these pieces will for the first time be shown to fans in the United States, on display throughout all festival venues at UCLA. Equal attention will be paid to BoomFest in Saint Petersburg and AComics in Samara.

A classic Kommissiya wall to be reproduced at UCLA's FFM Festival


Pianoboy – Champagne Eyes
Lapti – Coins
Dza – Tony's Track
Mumiy Troll – Vremya Tepla (A Time of Warmth)
Liza Khegai – Without You
Mujuice – Without You

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