Director: Vasily Sigarev
Cast: Yana Troyanova, Olga Lapshina, Alexei Filimonov, Alexei Pustovoitov, Anna Ukolova, Irma Arendt, Konstantin Gatsalov, Dmitri Kulichkov, Evgeny Sitiy, Yana Sekste, Marina Gavrilova, Sasha Gavrilova.
Russians have a reputation for painting the bleak reality of everyday life in art. The latest is a film about death entitled “Living” directed by up-and-coming Russian filmmaker Vasily Sigarev.
His drama is vying for top honours at the Rotterdam International Film Festival.
The creator of the award-winning social drama Wolfy, Sigarev's second feature is set in the middle of nowhere, in a wintry Russian province.
The movie revolves around several characters. A mother who wants to reunite with her twin daughters, a young newly wed couple, and a boy looking to see his estranged father, despite his mother's protests. Each of these characters experiences death of loved ones and has to learn to live without them. ...
Living, Russian filmmaker Vasily Sigarev’s second feature, tells three stories of contemporary Russian misery in a chilly province. In one, a young couple tries to navigate everyday violence; in another, an older woman deals with the consequences of her alcoholism on her daughters’ lives; and in the third, a young boy pines for his missing father.
They might seem to add up to a critique of contemporary social malaise, but Sigarev says – through a translator – that “I was not thinking about society. These stories could have happened a hundred years ago, three hundred years ago, the same as now. But a hundred years ago there was a different understanding of death. (Russian) people’s attitude to the death of those around them has changed. Now, it’s more like in European society, where there are small families, with perhaps one child, and people don’t notice what happens in families near them. Their neighbours could lose someone and they don’t see it.”
Death is seldom far away in Living, which is in the running for a Tiger Award. In more than one story, Sigarev has some characters appear to others after their death. “It’s not a fantasy,” he clarifies. “It’s the psychological reaction of the people in the circumstances. It’s inside these people’s heads, a subjective view.” An expression, perhaps, of the kind of despair that was also part of his debut feature, Wolfy (2009), in which a young girl pursues the mother who has abandoned her.
Sigarev began his career as a playwright but seems not to miss theatre – or, indeed, ever to have had much affection for it. “For now, I’m not working on the stage,” he smiles. “I’m taking a rest in the movie industry.” And would he be happy to work only in cinema from now on? “Of course,” he laughs. “I dream of that. I don’t like to go to the theatre. The first time I went to the theatre was to see my own play… and I didn’t like it.” How does his approach to film work differ to his approach to stage work? “There’s no difference in my approach, it’s just a question of whether it’s a script or a screenplay.” And what is it that he prefers about working with the camera? “I don’t know how to explain why, it’s just more interesting. I love movies more than theatre.”
For his next project, Sigarev plans a new departure but also to remain consistent. “I’m trying to find the money for a comedy,” he says. “Only the genre will change, not the style of work, the sensibility or the feelings.” ...