Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Alexei Popogrebsky: How I Ended This Summer - Как я провёл этим летом (2010)

Director:Aleksei Popogrebsky
Writer:Aleksei Popogrebsky
Stars:Grigory Dobrygin, Sergei Puskepalis, Igor Chernevich

A polar station on a desolate island in the Arctic Ocean. Sergei, a seasoned meteorologist, and Pavel, a recent college graduate, are spending months in complete isolation on the once important strategic research base. Pavel receives an important radio message and is still trying to find the right moment to tell Sergei, when fear, lies and suspicions start poisoning the atmosphere.


* 60th Berlin International Film Festival[3]
o Silver Bear for Best Actor: Grigoriy Dobrygin and Sergei Puskepalis
o Outstanding Artistic Achievement in the Category Camera: Pavel Kostomarov
* 7th Yerevan Golden Apricot International Film Festival[4]
o Ecumenical Jury Award
* 2010 London Film Festival[5]
o Best Film
* 46th Chicago International Film Festival[6]
o Gold Hugo — Best Film
* Golden Eagle Award
o Golden Eagle — Best Film [7]

The latest film by Aleksei Popogrebskii (Roads to Koktebel, 2003, with Boris Khlebnikov; Simple Things / Prostye veshchi, 2007) depicts a two-men (and all-male) drama that takes place at a small sub-polar meteorological station, located on a remote island lost in the cold northern sea. Here, a seasoned, tough and not very loquacious, 40-something-year old professional Sergei Vital’evich (Sergei Puskepalis, who also played the central role in Simple Things) coexists with a 20-something- year old, initially cheerful and not excessively responsible intern, the young specialist Pasha (Grigorii Dobrygin). When Sergei goes fishing, Pasha receives a radiogram about the sudden death of Sergei’s wife and their child. When Sergei returns, Pasha fails to break the tragic news to his boss, especially after he had overslept and subsequently fudged the data in the meteorological report just before the boss gets back. Sergei goes off fishing again, while the superiors at headquarters are worried when they do not hear back from Sergei, suspecting that he lost his mind from grief. They send a plane to pick him and Pasha up from the place where Sergei is fishing. This plan fails, too, and only when Sergei returns to the station Pasha tells him what happened to his family. After this confession, the most dramatic part of the film begins: Scared of Sergei’s anger and rage, Pasha fires at him from a rifle, but misses and runs away. Sergei grabs the rifle and fires a shot at Pasha, but obviously aims above the boy’s head. Thereafter Pasha hides in various places on the island, while Sergei seemingly chases him. Pasha’s animosity grows and he exposes Sergei’s fish to radioactive contamination, attempting to poison his boss, only to appear at the station once Sergei has eaten one of the fish to tell him that they are radioactive. Sergei barfs, but strangely shows no aggression towards Pasha any more – strangely, because in the first part of the film he did not hesitate to hit the “greenhorn” even for less significant misgivings, literally beating Pasha for falsifying data. Eventually, the station is closed, Pasha leaves the island and tries to convince Sergei to leave too—at least so he can be examined to assess the level of radioactive contamination. But Sergei refuses, saying: “Don’t you understand that I need to stay alone” – which in the film’s context reads: I want to die alone. ... 

Reviewed by Mark Lipovetsky and Tatiana Mikhailova in KinoKultura


J. A. Miller said...

Why in the hell is everyone translating the title of this film "How I _Ended_ This Summer?" The phrase "provesti vremia" translates perfectly fine and idiomatically into English as "How I _Spent_ This Summer." Why use such a stilted and confusing translation? The Oxford Russian/English dictionary doesn't even give "to end" as a possible translation for provesti. "To pass" is given there, so "How I Passed This Summer" could work, but it does not sound as idiomatic as "to spend."

Anonymous said...

Because the distributors and producers have elected to give it that incorrect title for release to English-speaking countries.
Another example: Lukas Moodysson's 'Fucking Amal' (Amal being the name of the crappy Swedish village all the characters hated) becoming 'Show Me Love'!