Film on victims of sects shown in Moscow

Valeria Mikhailova

Moscow, August 30, 2016

A scene from the film. A scene from the film.

The film Close to Us by Archpriest Alexander Novopashin was shown on August 29 as part of the fifth “We will Live on!” Moscow festival of national cinema. The movie describes how people fall into totalitarian sects and who is usually behind such organizations.

For the film director, Fr. Alexander Novopashin, this is already the second full-length film – the first devoted to the issue of drug addiction.

The film Close to Us was presented to Moscow viewers by actor Yury Belyayev who took part in both of the director’s projects. “It is a kind of a warning rather than a film for entertainment,” he said. “The issue in this narrative is very complex and difficult. I have a personal link to this story: a relative of mine, a woman, got into a sect of this kind which poses as a denomination. And for ten years none of our relatives have been able to help and save her."

Belyayev characterized both films made by the archpriest saying, “they are preventative." And he added: “Fr. Alexander and I have been to many cities with both motion pictures. After showing the film we normally communicate with the audience for several hours. And every time it appears that there is at least one person in the movie theater who was a victim to either drug addiction or totalitarian sects. Only the Russian Orthodox Church is trying to struggle with this…”

The actor noted that the film’s primary aim is to tell people that they are not alone: “The movie gives you the understanding that there will always be people who will support you; you need only to find them… Please, do not think that your problem is unsolvable."

Donations given by private individuals and funds provided by parishioners of the Novosibirsk St. Alexander Nevsky’s Cathedral (where Archpriest Alexander Novopashin is rector) were used for shooting both pictures. Those worked on the movies did so on a voluntary basis. Such famous actors and actresses as Ilia Lyubimov, Yekaterina Vilkova, Arina Marakulina, and Denis Beresnev acted in the film Close to Us. All of them are parishioners of Moscow churches.

Meanwhile, Yury Belyayev has complained that too few people are concerned about the problems that the priest-director Fr. Alexander Novopashin exposes in the film. “I am still a member of the Union of Cinematographers of the Russian Federation,” he said. “The social tasks which a priest who has no special education is currently undertaking have never been set before our Russian filmmakers at any meetings or round tables. That is surprising, but it appears that we, film production workers, have no social responsibilities towards you, our viewers. It really surprises me! That is why the archpriest’s invitation was not only a kind of obedience for me, but also my longing for a social element in cinematography."

The actor has advised those who suffer from the destructive effects of sects or from drug addiction to seek information and appeal for help, particularly through the website of the St. Alexander Nevsky’s Cathedral in Novosibirsk.

Valeria Mikhailova
Translated by Dmitry Lapa


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