“Zhyla-byla odna baba” (“Once Upon a Time There Lived a Woman”) is the work of a well-known film director Andrei Smirnov and the other one is the film of Andrei Zvyagintsev “Yelena”.
Andrei Smirnov says that his film is meant for the Russian audience. That is why he did not present it to international film forums. I did not want it to take part in the contest for the Nika award either, Andrei Smirnov says. However, taking into account the results of secret voting, we should mention here that nearly 700 members of the National Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences of Russia that chooses the best works for the Nika award praised Smirnov’s creation, which received prizes in 6 nominations!
The film director addresses a very serious historical theme that has not been shown properly in former Russian films: the resistance of the Russian peasants to the power of Bolsheviks in the 20s of the last century and peasants’ riots. In the Soviet-era times this was a taboo. . “As regards the plot, I made my choice when it became clear that censorship had become abolished”, Andrei Smirnov says.
"The idea came into being in 1987, and in 1990 I began writing a script, which I did with long breaks, Smirnov says. While I was engaged in scriptwriting, the Russian cinema was undergoing changes. Thus, I understood that the audience had changed too. New filmgoers were brought up by Hollywood. When my film was still in the making, I understood that the main character should be a woman. An ordinary Russian woman who had survived the nightmare of both the civil war and the social perturbations that followed."
The second winner of the Nika prize is the film “Yelena” by Andrei Zvyagintsev. Last year the jury awarded it a special prize at the film festival in Cannes. It received other awards too.
… A simple story of today: a former nurse decides to kill her husband, who is a rich businessman so that her idling children from the former marriage would be able to inherit what her husband would leave her. Zvyagintsev is turning a simple story of today into a universal tragedy. It seems to me that the ideas of humanism are gradually disappearing from our life.
The Voice of Russia
The Voice of Russia