Barbican and New East Cinema bring an exciting programme of landmark films that chart an extraordinary century of change in Russia.
Russia has undergone profound upheaval in recent history. The early idealism of the 1917 Revolution, suppressed during Stalinism, was revived in the relatively liberal Khrushchev’s Thaw of the ‘60s. The following Brezhnev era of stagnation ended with the perestroika, before the turbulent ‘90s and the contemporary political moment.
The films follow the lives of young people at key points in Russian and Soviet history, showing how these moments raised, in new ways, old questions: what sort of person should you be? How can you be a good citizen amidst such social and political change?
26 September, 18:30 Goodbye, Boys (15*)
Soviet Union 1964 Director Mikhail Kalik 82 min
One of the ‘unrehabilitated’ Soviet directors, Mikhail Kalik juxtaposes images of innocent youth against documentary footage of war atrocities, violent destruction and concentration camps.
27 September, 19:45 The Student (15)
Russia 2016 Director Kirill Serebrennikov 118 min
Set in contemporary Russia, a high school student becomes convinced the world has been lost to evil. He rebels not through dress or music – but by interpreting the Bible’s code of conduct as rigidly as possible.
Based on a recent play by German dramatist Marius von Mayenburg, The Student allegorically depicts how the once persecuted Russian Orthodox Church has gained new power and become a defining characteristic of Russian identity, following the collapse of the Soviet Union.
28 September, 18:30 Tough Kids (PG*)
Soviet Union 1983 Director Dinara Asanova 96 min
Dinara Asanova investigates the lives of young offenders and the people around them in Soviet society. Her interest in realism is clear in the opening scene – a documentary-style interview with boys about good and evil.
The story follows a former athlete and graduate of the Institute of Physical Education who decides to help reform young offenders by setting up a summer camp, believing he can help the teens by setting a good example.
29 September, 15:00 A Severe Young Man (PG*)
Soviet Union 1935 Director Abram Room 100 min
A young communist, Grisha, falls in love with a woman married to a rich, world-famous surgeon. Written by one of the great Soviet modernist writers, Yury Olesha, the love triangle brings bourgeois and communist ideologies into collision – exploring what it is to be young in a new society.
29 September, 18:00 Brother (15*)
Russia 1997 Director Aleksey Balabanov 96 min
This 90s cult classic is centred on the iconic figure of Danila Bagrov (Sergey Bodrov Jr.) as he leaves the army, arriving in St. Petersburg to meet his brother. Blazing Russian rock music serves as a fitting soundtrack to his descent into crime and immersion in the city’s nightlife.
30 September, 15:00 Lenin’s Guard (PG*)
Soviet Union 1965 Director Marlen Khutsiev 189 min
Three young friends meet again in post-war Moscow and discover a new society characterised by openness, liberalisation and optimism.
Meandering through everyday life of the Moscow new intelligentsia, Lenin’s Guard conjures a rarely seen vision of Soviet youth, as liberated children of WWII.