Vasili Sigarev – Zhit AKA Living (2012)

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Quote:
It is already a challenge to make a film on death and call it Living. But Sigarev fearlessly gets to the very heart of things, where life, death, God, love and the imagination form an indestructible whole. A harsh and sometimes brutal experience, but catharsis will follow.

Vasily Sigarev’s second feature, after his acclaimed Wolfy, is an existential portrait of protagonists living in a wintry Russian province. A mother wants to reunite with her twin daughters. A young couple marry in church, but immediately after the ceremony, God – or maybe the Devil, or maybe Blind Fate – tests their love in the most brutal way. Continue reading

Larisa Sadilova – S dnyom rozhdeniya aka Happy Birthday (1998)

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OMG by by Mark Deming
Blending dramatic situations with a documentary -influenced visual style, S Dnyom rozhdenya / Happy Birthday looks in at a typical day in a Russian maternity hospital. The patients range from a middle aged woman pleased if surprised by her current pregnancy to a Muslim woman whose marriage to a Russian has blighted her relationship with her family. No matter what their situations, the women draw strength and support from each other as they share their common experience. This film was shown at the 1999 Rotterdam Film Festival. Continue reading

Sergei Loznitsa – Northern Light AKA Lumière du Nord (2008)

A small village located on the shores of the White Sea, 2008. In Northern Russia.

While winter has shrouded everything in the glacial night of the North, a few hours of light per day seep in on the eve of Easter in the village of Soumskiy Pozad, around a thousand kilometers to the north of Saint-Petersburg, in the province of Karelia. Connected to the rest of the country by a vague muddy road and a piece of railroad, the village experiences a suspended and mysterious time. The film is about the Russia of unending forests and potato fields. A few robust and intransigent people live peacefully, in no hurry by pressing needs. Two small girls have just been adopted by a family. The woman is sweet and soft-spoken, whereas the man is hot-tempered. It is Chekov’s Russia: still happy, yet torn apart, and cold.
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Aleksandr Sokurov – Dni Zatmenija AKA The Days Of Eclipse (1988)

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Loosely based on a science fiction story by the Strugatsky brothers. The film tells the story about a young scientist who travels to a poor provincial town in Central Asia to do research on the Russian Orthodox church. Mysterious forces, unbearable heat, strange people, a conversation with a dead friend and aliens disturb his research. Continue reading

Angelina Nikonova – Portret v sumerkakh AKA Twilight Portrait (2011)

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Marina (Dihovichnaya) is a gorgeous upper-crust Muscovite with an opulent wardrobe and good-looking husband to match. She’s employed as a social worker, a profession offering meager financial rewards. Thankfully her affluent father provides the supplementary income her job — and her hapless husband — cannot. Yet instead of finding contentment in her win-win situa­tion, Marina carries on an affair with her best friend’s husband, and also initiates a bizarre series of erotic encounters with a deadbeat cop who previously raped her. Continue reading