Stories from Non-Putin Russia
Life As it Is / The Holidays
Life As it Is
dir. Marina Razbezhkina, Russia, 2002, digital, Russian w/ English subtitles, 20 min.
Life on a Russian farm continues unchanged. An older woman goes about her daily work. One by one, in black and white, the routine scenes from her life pass by. Wearing her inevitable headscarf, she walks through a bare forest, manages the finances, or scolds a colleague. The people she talks to remain invisible, as the camera solely concentrates on the woman against the bleak environment of her surroundings. Poetic and beautiful, Life as It Is celebrates Russian women and their complex lives.
dir. Marina Razbezhkina, Russia, 2005, digital, Russian w/ English subtitles, 52 min.
The Mansi children at the boarding school in the small town of Ivdel' - the northernmost town in Sverdlovsk region, 535 kilometers from Ekaterinburg - are waiting impatiently for the winter break. They are eager to return to their native village, where there are no televisions or computer games. It takes a whole day to cover a hundred and fifty kilometers in weather - beaten lorry, through forests and snow - covered plains. Yet nothing is better than home, where you can go sledding, jump off the roof into the snow, or play cards with grandmother in the bleak light of the kerosene lamp all evening long. Witnessing the everyday life of Treskole's villagers, this meditative and attentive film by an award winning filmmaker carries the viewers across both time and space. The laconic routine is interrupted by accidents that punctuate the predictable passage of time: a child burns himself, a car falls through the ice, and somebody gets lost in the woods. The self - appointed shaman advises the locals to leave the village as few families can make a living. The holidays are a short break from town life for the children - will any of them decide to return for good?
STORIES FROM NON-PUTIN RUSSIA
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.