The 16th Russian Film Symposium continues through Sat., May 10. The theme for this year's symposium, co-presented by the University of Pittsburgh and Pittsburgh Filmmakers, is "Gendering Genre." Recent Russian cinema mostly comprises romantic comedies and gritty dramas, two genres commonly associated with female and male audiences, respectively. And whereas rom-coms pursue the successful coming together of individuals, the darker, frequently violent dramas are more apt explore issues of alienation and disintegration. Film scholars and critics will be on hand to introduce the films and lead discussions.
INTIMATE PARTS. Sex — and all the secrets, subterfuge and hypocrisy it can generate — is the focus of this ensemble drama from Natasha Merkulova and Aleksei Chupov. Interlocking stories include: a polyamorous photographer (who snaps close-ups of genitalia), a moralistic public censor who can't quiet her own desires, and a ménage-a-trois between a couple and a circus performer. It's all a mess, if a very human one. (7:30 p.m. Wed., May 7)
THE CONVOY. Aleksei Mizgirev's drama follows an army captain as he goes to Moscow to retrieve a deserter, a cheerful if doomed young man partial to silly jokes. Wallowing in urban grit, the film explores issues of corruption, masculinity and various outlets for dealing with emotional pain. (7:30 p.m. Thu., May 8)
BREAK-UP HABIT. A familiar if slightly parodic rom-com from Ekaterina Telegina in which a pretty, lively girl dates a series of good-looking prospects, but finds herself dissatisfied with them all. Being a modern gal, she's also prone to much self-reflection and blogging, and reunites with her exes to find out why they broke up. Turns out Eva is in charge of her story, but has abdicated her love life to chance. (7:30 p.m. Fri., May 9)
LIVING. With death, a lot of the misery is borne by those left behind. Vasilii Sigarev's bleak drama tells three intercut stories in which a wife, a child and a mother attempt to process the sudden loss of a loved one, including hallucinating the deceased's return. Grim subject matter, but handsomely filmed. (7:30 p.m. Sat., May 10)