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How I Ended This Summer (Kak ya provel etim letom)


RUSSI A Director: Alexei Popogrebsky


Producers: Roman Borisevich, Aleksandr Kushaev Screenwriter: Aleksei Popogrebsky Cinematographer: Pavel Kostomarov Editor: Ivan Lebedev


Cast: Grigoriy Dobrygin, Sergei Puskepalis, Igor Chernevich 2010/color/124 min.


ALEXEI POPOGREBSKY


Born in 1972 in Moscow, Alexei Popogrebsky graduated from Moscow State University with a degree in psychol- ogy. He began making films in 1994 with his friend and collaborator Boris Khlebnikov; the two completed their first feature film, Roads to Koktebel, in 2003. Popogrebsky cemented his status as one of Russia’s most promising directors with his second feature, Simple Things (2007).


Filmography Simple Things (2007) Roads to Koktebel (2003)


A meteorological research station at Russia’s northernmost tip sets the bleak backdrop for this character drama from director Alexei Popogrebsky. As stark as the endless white landscape that surrounds them is the windblown wooden structure where grizzled Sergei and young Pavel sleep, eat walrus and transmit radio messages consisting of long strings of numbers. The interminable days without real darkness, the natural dangers that threaten them daily and the nearly total absence of human contact they have combine to create existential grounds for the creeping action.


Sergei has spent years at this lonely work, seeing his wife and young son only intermittently, while Pavel seems to be there for a unique experience—as if he were gathering material to write a grade-school essay on how he spent his summer. He finds outlets for his youthful playfulness—jumping from one rusty barrel to another, catching a ride on a wind machine and playing video games, always with hard rock blasting through his headphones—while Sergei gruffly tends to his radio transmissions. There is little conversation and no camaraderie between the mismatched pair.


One day Sergei leaves Pavel in charge for several days while he goes fishing, speeding away from the rocky shore through the choppy sea in a small metal boat rife with dents. While he’s away, Pavel receives a radiogram containing the news that Sergei’s family has been in an accident. But when Sergei returns with a boatload of fish to gut, the message goes uncommunicated. The days go on and the tension mounts in the eerie landscape, as much a character as the human pair—but no more able to offer any answers. How I Ended This Summer won three Silver Bears at the 2010 Berlin Film Festival, two for the lead actors and one for cinematographer Pavel Kostomarov.


—JULIET SHERWOOD


91


CONTEMPORARY WORLD CINEMA


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