• film

Stories from Non-Putin Russia

Bliss / Civil Status

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Thursday 8/6
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dir. Vitaly Mansky, Russia, 1996, digital, Russian w/ English subtitles, 52 min.
In a deserted village in Central Russia, the only residents who remain are a few elderly women and an old man, yet, there is a baby on the way. Who is the father of the child? His identity is unknown and the townspeople believe that the baby may be a miracle. In the village named "Bliss," everyone waits for the miracle to happen, yet no one notices them happening all the time. Bliss is a very entertaining and witty film from an award winning filmmaker.

followed by

Civil Status

dir. Alina Rudnitskaya, Russia, 2005, digital, Russian w/ English subtitles, 29 min.

The "Marriage Palace," as it is referred to, is a place where important moments in a person's destiny tangle with the bureaucratic system. The most significant events in people's lives such as weddings, divorces, births and deaths are seen as routine in a registration office.


Next year will mark two and a half decades since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the start of a new identity for Russia. Leaving behind an era of oligarchs, the country emerged in the 21st century with its super-riches topping the charts of Forbes magazine while its political elite once again began flexing their muscles on the world stage. Remarkably the state of life for the people of Russian provinces is far away from the ambitions of the center.

This eclectic collection of stunning documentaries, rather than dwelling on political and economic issues, reflects on the psychological impact of the change on Russian people. The idea of the province, the local "neighborhood," is the focus. Carefully selected films show that although political tendencies of Russian society have often determined social changes, the province only observes and often pays for them.
Many works are produced by regional, non-central studios by filmmakers from the same social strata as their provincial subjects, betraying both a physical and an emotional distance from the "movers and shakers" of urban society. Interestingly, the series demonstrates above all that today's Russian documentarian inherits a deep sense of the culture and traditions rooted in classical literature, rather than values derived from contemporary cinema and television.