Rimas Tuminas – Uncle Vanya (2010)

Winner of 2010 Golden Mask for Best Russian Theatre Performance.

Anton Chekhov
Vakhtangov Theatre, Moscow

Director: Rimas Tuminas
Composer: Faustas Latenas
Set designer: Adomas Yacovskis

Rimas Tuminas’s production was enthusiastically greeted by Moscow critics – not only for its undoubted merits but also because Uncle Vanya gave a positive response to the ‘accursed question’: is it possible at all to breathe life into a half-dead academic theatre today? Yes, it’s possible, answers the Vakhtangov Theatre but only in case there is a powerful director that is able to sweep his actors along with him. In Uncle Vanya there are a lot of witty solutions and paradoxical psychological moves. Rimas Tuminas seems to reflect Chekhov’s ‘scenes of rural life’ in secret false mirrors of otherness, and for this reason his performance turned out to be darkly eccentric. And you ask yourself: is it really that those on the stage are not ghosts of the country seat? Continue reading

Andrey Konchalovskiy – Belye nochi pochtalona Alekseya Tryapitsyna AKA The Postman’s White Nights (2014)


The film represents life in a godforsaken Russian village. The only way to reach the mainland is to cross the lake by boat and a postman became the only connection with the outside world. A reserved community has been set up here. Despite the modern technologies and a spaceport nearby the people of the village live the way they would in the Neolithic Era. There is neither government nor social services or jobs. The postman’s beloved woman escapes the village life and moves to the city. Postman’s outboard engine gets stolen and he can no longer deliver mail. His normal pattern of life is disrupted. The postman makes a decision to leave for the city too but returns before long with no certain reason. The script is based on real characters’ stories. People from the village play their own parts in the film. The search for the protagonist lasted for over a year. Continue reading

Isaakas Fridbergas – Kukolka (1988)


Kukolka” tells the story of a young Russian gymnastics star who is forced to return to the life of an ordinary teenage girl after an injury prevents her from competing. As the film unfolds, the audience is drawn into the damaged psyche of the girl and the world that shaped her. The story is dark, intense, and ultimately disquieting; it draws you in, horrifies you, and keeps you thinking long after the superb finale. A film that is difficult to forget. Continue reading

Aleksandr Sokurov – Spasi i Sokhrani aka Save and Protect (1989)

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A retelling of Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary as a surreal story of universal suffering, the film emphasizes the heroine’s internal transformation as she slowly loses her grip on reality. Her erotic fascination with rich clothing and her almost childish desire to seduce and to be lost in passion is brilliantly contrasted with the small-town life that leaves Emma tragically isolated in her passionate attempt to bridge the gap between spirituality and sensuality. Continue reading

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


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

Bakhtyar Khudojnazarov – Luna Papa (1999)



“Mix some Monty Python with the violent black humour of Yugoslavian director Emir Kusturica, add a little South American magic realism, and you might have some idea of what goes on in the thoroughly strange and enjoyable Luna Papa, a movie set in the contemporary world of Central Asia. Within the context of its comic, fantastic narrative, about a pregnant teenager and her search for the father of her child whom she has never seen, there`s a darker impression of life revealed in this journey through the outlying former Soviet republic of Tajikistan where gangsterism, military brutality and violent surprises are a normal part of existence.” (Globe and Mail, February 2001) Continue reading

Oksana Bychkova – Eshche odin god AKA Another Year (2014)


A young married couple in today’s Moscow: He’s an unemployed guy who gets some money by giving rides to strangers at nights (the illegal taxi driving so common in Russia). She’s a young graphic designer who just got her first job. The film tracks their unstable relationship throughout a year. Both have different backgrounds and pursue different goals in life, and gradually the differences, no matter how insignificant, become fatally important for their relationship.
Oxana Bychkova makes a poignant portrait of a young, immature love and subtly shows how feelings inevitably become routine, against the will of the lovers. This unsentimental and touching drama unfolds gradually but its pace is engaging and has genuine tension. Continue reading