Russia

Ilya Khrzhanovskiy & Jekaterina Oertel – DAU. Nora Mother AKA DAU. Nora Mama (2020)

Once just a girl from the provinces, Nora is now married to a successful scientist and lives together with her family within the confines of a secret and privileged Moscow institute. Nora is visited by her mother for the first time since her wedding. Her mother closely observes the atmosphere within the couple’s home, trying to work out whether her daughter is happy. During the course of their intimate conversations the complexity of their contradictory relationship is revealed. Read More »

Ksenia Okhapkina – Immortal (2019)

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Russian documentary filmmaker Ksenia Okhapkina’s essay portrait looks at the strict order that governs life in a small industrial city in Russia. With her talent for visual composition and perceptiveness regarding local events, she puts together an audiovisual collage of seemingly minor details that enable us to observe a society bound by the regime and political power. Scenes of young girls learning about discipline at ballet school or adolescent boys training for the army are eloquent examples of citizen indoctrination, but the filmmaker avoids psychologizing the participants. Instead she portrays the dangerous ideology without excessive words or narration, thus perfectly capturing its furtive omnipresence and inconspicuousness. Read More »

Larisa Sadilova – Odnazhdy v Trubchevske AKA Once in Trubchevsk (2019)

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A chronicle of life in the Russian village of Trubchevsk. Read More »

Sergei Loznitsa – Fabrika AKA Factory (2004)

Masculine and feminine, hard and soft, continues and interrupted, whole and fragmented. All that is encompassed by just one day at the factory. Read More »

Aleksey Chupov & Natasha Merkulova – Chelovek, kotoryy udivil vsekh AKA The Man Who Surprised Everyone (2018)

Diagnosed with cancer, a Siberian man, inspired by an ancient folk tale, tries to fool death by adopting a new identity—one that leads to ostracism and violence from the others in his village.

Egor, a forest ranger in Siberia, finds out he has terminal cancer. He accepts his prognosis and prepares for the inevitable. His wife (Natalia Kudryashova), who is expecting another child, begs him to visit a shaman, who relates a Russian folktale about a creature who fooled fate by disguising itself. Therefore, Egor decides to disguise himself and dress as a woman. Dressing as a woman in a Siberian village is an audacious move that is way beyond the comprehension of the locals, and worst of all, his son and wife, who are mortified. Read More »

Andrey Konchalovskiy – Kurochka Ryaba AKA Ryaba My Chicken (1994)

This Russian-French comedy examines the effects of capitalism and democracy upon a Russian peasant village. It was filmed in the rural village of Bezvodnoye, the setting of this film’s 1967 precursor “Asya’s Happiness.” The outspoken peasant woman Asya returns in this new episode which begins with her walking along a road explaining why democracy doesn’t work. Her husband is an alcoholic who lives with a gypsy. Her son works on the black market for the mob. He was part of a theft involving a rare golden egg from the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg. Asya’s opinions seem to be well founded. In the village crime has increased, inflation is rising, and local authorities are ineffectual. Many locals are so angry at the town Capitalist for running his mill 24-hours per day that they stage a demonstration and begin waving pro-Communist banners. Asya’s pet chicken begins to grow and speak. Read More »

Rustam Khamdamov – Meshok bez dna AKA The Bottomless Bag AKA Yakhonty. Ubiystvo (2017)

The film is based on Ryunosuke Akutagawa’s story “In a Grove” which takes place during the times of Tsar Alexander II. A lady-in-waiting tells the Emperor in his bedroom a metaphysical story about a 13th century prince who is killed in the woods under mysterious circumstances. Fairy tale characters who have witnessed the terrible death, all share their version of the events, gradually shedding light on what really happened. Read More »