Aleksey Mizgiryov – Buben, baraban AKA Tambourine, Drum (2009)

Yekaterina Artemovna (Natalia Negoda), forty-five, has a hard life. She lives in a small mining town where she works as a librarian and, like her only friend and colleague, rents a little room in a project. She has difficulties making ends meet on her meagre salary, which is often paid late, and sells off some of the library’s books illegally in a nearby station. One day, a man with a strong sense of civic duty, wearing a naval uniform, returns one of these books to the library, apparently without recognising it was Yekaterina who had actually sold him the book. Read More »

Ilya Khrzhanovskiy – 4 AKA Chetyre (2004)

Two men and a woman meet in a Moscow bar and weave extravagant lies about their lives and professions, setting in motion a ruthless, relentless three-lane journey into the dark, secret corners of modern Russia. Read More »

Lev Arnshtam – Zoya (1944)

Zoya is the inspirational true story of one of Russia’s most beloved national heroines. During the Nazi siege of Moscow, a fearless 18-year-old girl named Zoya risked her life as a partisan fighter. Captured by the Germans, Zoya endured unspeakable tortures at the hands of the Gestapo but still refused to betray her comrades. Even on the gallows, Zoya defiantly spoke out against the Nazis and everything they stood for. In a series of flashbacks, this film re-creates not merely Zoya’s death, but also her life. Galina Vodiantiskaya plays the title character as an adult, while Katia Skvortsova enacts the younger Zoya. The film’s English-language version was prepared by Howard Fast, who was later egregiously blacklisted for his “pro-Red” activities. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide Read More »

Victor Kossakovsky – Belovy AKA The Belovs (1992)

“Belovy (the Belovs)” is a breathtaking portrait of a troubled peasant family. It’s poetry in the form of a documentary that won many prizes. Beautifully shot in vintage black and white, the film tells the story of two times widow Anna Belova who lives together with her brother Mikhail. Blending the two personalities, Kosakovsky characterizes the true Russian soul: she is the rational worker, honest and strong – he is the drunken poet, the idealist, his philosophy fades into radical nonsense time after time. Kosakovsky ingeniously knows to cut between a noisy quarrel and a hedgehog drinking in the early morning sun. The two seem to live alone in the world until two other brothers come to visit. They wonder if there is a measure for misery, they quarrel, take a steam-bath and go skinny- dipping in a nearby river. The film displays the grief and joy of Anna who lives with her stoic brother and two kids who don’t seem to make any progress. Magnificent- typically Russian- photography reminds one of Tarkovsky when we closely examine the bark of a tree while we hear Anna cry over a letter she writes to a son far far away. Read More »

Andrey Konchalovskiy – Romans o vlyublyonnykh AKA Romance for Lovers (1974)

The young lovers Sergej and Tanja lead a happy life until Sergej is called up for military service. Tanja struggles to endure their separation, but things take a dramatic turn for the worse when Sergej is mistakenly believed to be dead after taking part in an emergency rescue mission. Tanja suffers an emotional breakdown and wants to end her life, but her family and friends help her find the strength to continue living… – DEFA Film Library Read More »

Gleb Panfilov – Romanovy: Ventsenosnaya semya AKA The Romanovs: A Crowned Family (2000)

At a cost of $18m, The Romanovs -The Imperial Family is the biggest budget Russian production in the past ten years. Its first rate production values and breathtakingly beautiful sets and costumes, as well the international reputation of director Gleb Panfilov, should earn it theatrical distribution as well as a wide airing on television. Read More »

Aleksey German Jr. – Delo AKA House Arrest (2021)

David, a university professor, takes to social media to criticize his city’s administration. But instead of the mayor’s dodgy dealings being investigated, David is himself accused of embezzlement and placed under house arrest. Despite the overbearing surveillance, double-crossing acquaintances, and growing media interest, David remains defiant and will not apologise. With the court case drawing ever nearer, does David have any hope of winning this battle against Goliath? Read More »