Kevin Spacey visited Moscow over the weekend to present the world premiere of The Smile Man, a short film by young Russian director Anton Lanshakov that stars Willem Dafoe. The film is produced by Jameson First Shot, a competition set up by Spacey to support young film directors from Russia, South Africa and the USA.
Written and directed by Lanshakov, a graduate of the Humanitarian Institute of Television and Radio Broadcasting in Moscow, The Smile Man follows a man dealing with a consequences of a car accident which has left him with a spinal injury that has caused him to have permanent smile on his face. Lanshakov took inspiration for the film from Japanese film director Takeshi Kitano, whose face was partially paralysed after a motorcycle accident.
Speaking to an audience of the general public at the open-air premiere at the Strelka Institute for Media Architecture and Design in central Moscow on Saturday evening, Spacey said: “This is the first time Anton’s film has been seen, and he’s had a very warming response so thank you for that. … I want to send a message out to those in power and who are wealthy — support artists.”
Jameson First Shot, sponsored by the Irish whiskey brand, was set up by Spacey and Trigger Street Productions in order to give a break to talents writers from South Africa, Russia and the USA who are looking for their “first shot” at the film industry. 114 submissions were received from Russia this year. Last year Spacey acted in all three of the shorts, including the Russian winner Envelope by Aleksey Nuzhny.
Thanking Willem Dafoe for his participation in this year’s films, Spacey added: “I basically asked him to jump off a cliff with me. Normally when you approach an actor you have a director and a script. In this case, I went to Willem and asked him to star in three films, not just one, and I had not idea who the directors were or the scripts. But I needed him to say yes so we could announce you as the next participant. And he said yes!
The film is now available to watch for free on YouTube.