This striking documentary is a multi-layered portrait of a heavy industry churning out components for a machine. But the machine is Russia and the components are the model citizens who are shaped and moulded from an early age.
The setting is the ice-bound north-western reaches of the country, an area first populated by gulags intended to facilitate the industrialisation of the Arctic region. But, we are told on a title card (the only piece of context in this largely fly-on-the-wall film), when the prison gates finally opened following the death of Stalin, the people doggedly stayed on.
Okhapkina’s film, which won the Grand Prize for Best Documentary at Karlovy Vary, is an oblique and sometimes almost abstract look at the forces that carve out the kind of inhabitants who can survive this unforgiving life. Okhapkina weaves together footage of a town which seems to be mired in the perpetual darkness of winter. Shrouded figures blend into the night, and Okhapkina’s use of silhouetting means that many of these figures remain faceless and anonymous.
The sound design emphasises the industrial nature of the way the youth of the community are hammered into shape: the clattering heels of dancers drifts into the next shot, of a thundering train toiling through the icy lands.
Wendy Ide, Screen Daily
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Film Title : Immortal
Language : venäjä
Director : Ksenija Okhapkina
Year : 2019
Length : 61
Age limit : K7
Format : DCP
Cinematographer : Aleksandr Demyanenko, Artem Ignatov, Ksenija Okhapkina
Editing : Stijn Deconinck, Ksenija Okhapkina
Music : Robert Jürjendal, Arian Levin
Producer : Riho Västrik
Production Company : Vesilind
Wed 29.1. at 20.00, Kino Regina
Fri 31.1. at 17.15, Kinopalatsi 8
Sun 2.2. at 19.30, Kinopalatsi 6