New project of the director Aleksandr Sokurov at the Hermitage
On 23 December, 2001, the Hermitage took part in the Russian Ark Project, the new experimental documentary/feature film of the famous director Aleksandr Sokurov. The director conceived Russian Ark as an unprecedented, continuous, full-length trip into the world of the Hermitage in the form of a succession of prearranged and accidental meetings.
The idea advanced by Aleksandr Sokurov and the Hermitage Director Mikhail Piotrovsky impressed German producers from Egoli Films and WDR/ARTE. The film's chief operator is Thielman Buettner who directed the famous Run, Lola, Run. The film is not an orderly or coherent story. It encompasses events of the 18th to the 20th centuries. 2,000 extras, 1,000 dancers, orchestras of the Mariinsky Theater and the State Hermitage Museum, museum personnel, first of all, collection custodians who saw to historical verity and famous St. Petersburg actors including Mariya Kuznetsova and Leonid Mozgovoy took part in the shooting.
Aleksandr Sokurov described the future film's genre as "a few words of a few people." From Peter the Great's modest rooms in the Third Winter Palace, the camera proceeded through lonely passages to grand staircases and luxurious halls of the New and Small Hermitages and Winter Palace. In the halls were reenacted episodes from the life of Russian Emperors, imperial balls, diplomatic receptions and events with the participation of famous visitors to the Hermitage and its legendary directors, Academicians Iosif Orbeli and Boris Piotrovsky (father of Mikhail Piotrovsky).
All was ready by noon on 23 December when the shooting started. The group
three times had to go back to its place of departure, the exit to the
yard of Peter the 1st's Winter Palace. It was only the fourth attempt
started at 1.50 pm with the deadline quickly approaching (it was the shortest
day of the year) that brought the shooting successfully to its end. All
was finished at 3.18 pm. An hour later a press conference started in the
Hermitage Theater with the participation of the Hermitage Director Mikhail
Piotrovsky, Aleksandr Sokurov, artistic director of the Mariinsky Theater
Valery Gergiyev and Russian producer Andrey Deryabin.
It is expected that the film will be premiered in Russia when the tercentenary
of St. Petersburg is celebrated. The State Hermitage Museum's personnel
will be the first to see it.