An almost Hollywood Final
By Kim Belov
The people who surround us are always full of surprises. Even if you know somebody well they can still catch you off guard — all the more so if you know them well. Our new editor Grigory “Grisha” Tumanov wrote an article about Lyuda Veber, in which I became a source. In 1998, I was the class leader of the screenwriting department at Gerasimov Institute of Cinematography, while Lyuda was the class leader of the film studies department. For several years we stood in lines together, waiting for our stipends and discount metro tickets. Toward the end of university I began working as a courier, ferrying around documents for a company called Consultant Plus, and then I became an editor for the website Obozrenie.ru, owned by Umar Alievich Dzhabrailov (it would take too long to explain how that happened). I gave up my place as class leader to Seryozha Reshetnev (he would later move to far‑off Gorno‑Altaisk to become a political activist), and I didn’t hear from Lyuda for a long time. I only heard that she had continued working in her specialty — that is, in the movie business. And that business would land her in jail on the very dubious charge of organizing a contract killing.
During his reporting, Tumanov dug up lots of details that would have made for a Coen brothers script, had they ever decided to make a movie about the Russian film world. Each of the characters shines like its own small sun in a constellation: a producer who drew Danny Trejo into the trailers of his films in order to convince producers to hand over more money. Investors who gave money and didn’t pay attention to how it was being spent for a long time before suddenly, tadam! — they started paying attention. The wife of the producer. A Crimean superman-fixer, as quick to set up a shoot as he is to bash in somebody’s head if they so much as dare to offend his wife. The lawyer of the alleged murderer of opposition activist Boris Nemtsov. The Hollywood actor Taktarov. And in the middle of all this: Lyuda, mystery woman, either Frances