Sunday, 10 April 2011

Eldar Salavatov: PiraMMMida - ПираМММида, official trailer (2011)

Directed by Eldar Salavatov.
Starring Ekaterina Vilkova, Fyodor Bondarchuk, Yuriy Kutsenko.

Russia, early 90s. A fictional story inspired by financier Sergey Mavrodi, his securities company "MMM", and the pyramid scheme he ran that left upwards of fifteen million investors with nothing when it crashed. ...

Official website here.

Anyone who lived in Russia in the early 1990s or visited often enough to watch television there can never forget Lyonia Golubkov. A protagonist of sixteen TV advertisements that aired between 1992 and 1994, the simpleton tractor driver Lyonia touted in decidedly straightforward terms his successful stint as a fledgling stock investor. Lyonia, as it turned out, was investing in the firm called MMM, the most notorious of the pyramid schemes of the 1990s, that captured the hearts and minds (and hard-earned rubles) of millions of Russian citizens ready to emulate Lyonia’s televised success. The fictional Lyonia’s advertised trajectory, before the crash of MMM in 1994, was astounding indeed. Lyonia received enough return on his initial investment to buy boots and a new fur coat for his wife Rita; he followed that by paying for a trip for himself and his brother Ivan to San Francisco; subsequently was graced by a house call from none other than “simply Maria” (the protagonist of an eponymous and widely watched Mexican soap opera that aired on Russian TV at the time, played by actress Victoria Ruffo), and finally entrusted by the representatives sent to Moscow from his faraway native village to invest their precious resources—a few banknotes tied together with a piece of string. All this was observed by an impoverished populace that had seen its Soviet-era savings vanish at a time when runaway inflation, compounded by months-long delays of employment paychecks, kept millions of people in poverty. The last two ads in the series refer by name to the creator of the MMM company, Sergei Mavrodi. In one of them, Lyonia interrogates Mavrodi’s portrait hanging on the wall of his bedroom, wondering how an investment scheme that once seemed so promising could suddenly falter. The hopeful Lyonia imagines Mavrodi’s visage answering him that MMM, after having to shut down temporarily, was now ready to reopen. The ad’s appeal to Mavrodi’s image as the pyramid scheme started collapsing helped temporarily restore the investors’ trust: by that point, millions of people who had invested money in MMM had become convinced (perhaps, not incorrectly) that MMM’s troubles stemmed from the government’s fear of the company’s growing power. Common people like Lyonia Golubkov had every reason to think that Mavrodi was their personal savior. ... Reviewed by Sasha Senderovich © 2012 in KinoKultura

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