Artour Aristakisian – Mesto na zemle AKA A Place on Earth (2001)

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“This is a very powerful film. Admittedly parts of it are hard to watch, but it is an outstanding piece. In a nutshell, it is about a hippie commune that has been set up by someone who believes that the best way to help the homeless and often deranged cripples in Moscow is by offering them sexual love. I did not realise (because of the black and white, and the fact I watched this film before looking up to see when it was made) that this film was shot recently in Moscow, using real homeless people in their real situations. I assumed, because of the black and white, and the whole hippie commune idea, that this was the 70s. Shockingly, this includes his real-life footage of the current situation of the marginalised in Moscow, and that upset me to the core. Obviously some of the characters are actors (or, rather, are acting), but many are simply being shot in their everyday surroundings. Let’s hope that some good comes out of films such as these, in the same way that Cathy Come Home helped change the situation for many in the UK all those years ago…. Is Aristakisyan Russia’s new and very own Ken Loach? We shall have to wait and see.” Continue reading

Artour Aristakisian – Ladoni AKA Palms [+Extras] (1993)

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Palms is Aristakisyan’s astonishing portrait of people who live on the margins of life and exist outside normal society. Profound, spiritual and hallucinatory, Palms is remarkable at every level and one of the most visionary films of recent years.

Narrated by the director addressing his unborn son, the film is compassionate, revelatory and bold in its originality and was awarded the NIKA (Russian Oscar) for Best Documentary in 1994. This is its first-ever release on DVD.

“I would like the film to answer the need for community – to show how people are tied together, sometimes paradoxically” Artur Aristakisyan

A short excerpt from the Booklet essay by Graeme Hobbs

Perhaps surprisingly for a film populated almost entirely with beggars, Palms has nothing to do with charity. Its real subject is proximity. In its relentless depiction of life at the margins and with its discomfiting jabs of authenticity, it is an affront to personal space. Why should this be so? Continue reading