• film

Stories from Non-Putin Russia

Fisherman and the Dancer / Grandma's Apartment

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Fisherman and the Dancer
dir. Valeriy Solomin, Russia, 2005, digital, Russian w/ English subtitles, 52 min.

Natalia and Yuri are the keepers of a weather station near Lake Baikal in Siberia. Against the overwhelmingly vast, austere natural landscape, they live with their two children in a cramped house. Natalia, loves dancing and daydreaming, but is worried about her children's future. Yuri, who has always wanted a life of hunting and fishing, realizes there is a price to pay for their isolation. He misses outings to the cinema and the zoo. Sometimes, to dry his wife's tears, the fisherman dances with her in the kitchen. Outside, the incessant winds buffet the island. Summer is so short that winter is never far off. Valery Solomin, a veteran of some thirty documentaries, turns his camera on these reclusive people on the shores of the world's deepest lake.

followed by

Grandma's Apartment

dir. Andrei Anchugov, 1990, digital, Russian w/ English subtitles, 20 min.

In a large, industrial city in the Urals, Luba and Marina live in a small apartment, inherited from Marina's grandmother, who recently passed away. Brought together because of financial distresses, both girls try to help each other. They find comfort in their newly found friendship while standing strong against the big and cruel city. While both are busy with their own needs, the girls neglect to bury the ashes of Marina's late grandmother. Each day, they pass the urn, but feel no urgency to honor the memory, nor the traditions, of the grandmother. In this smart and sharp short, Mr. Anchugov raises a fundamental question regarding the future of the country and it’s past. Does tomorrow hold hope for Luba, Marina and their country? It is unclear...


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.