It might be tempting to label this as yet another satire of the Soviet regime, if not for the tragic events it depicts and the similarity it bears to some of the tragedies taking place in our times. Based on real incidents, Konchalovsky’s film takes place in 1962, as Khrushchev was pretending to fix all the evils of the Stalinist era but while doing it, the cost of life was going up, salaries shrunk and life was becoming increasingly difficult everywhere. Lyudmila, an executive of the communist party in Novocherkassk, faithful to the party lines down to the smallest print, is aggrieved when the workers in the town’s largest factory go on strike and stage a protest demonstration to demand better conditions. She thinks they are definitely out of line, but at the same time, she is shocked to see the army brought in to maintain the order and NKVD sharpshooters in her garret opening fire on the demonstrators and killing many of them. Then she discovers her 18 years old daughter is gone missing in the turmoil.She might be injured, she might be dead or in prison, and Lyudmilla rushes from one place to another, desperate, realizing in the process that the city has been cut off the rest of the country to avoid spreading the news, that all connections severed and all roads blocked, that leaders worry only about their own well- being, that the Army and the Secret Police talk I in different languages and her last vestiges of faith in the everlasting supremacy of the Soviet system dwindles away one after the other. The film was presented this year at the Venice Film Festival and won a Special Jury Prize. Yulia Vissotzkaya, who plays Lyudmila, is the director’s wife, a well- known TV personality and a native of the city of Novochercassk.
Andrei Konchalovksy (born 1937) is one of the greatest Russian directors, son of one of the noblest families in the country and brother of actor and director Nikita Michalkov. He first drew attention to himself as the screenwriter of Andrei Tarkovsky’s “Andrei Rublev”, he got in trouble with the Soviet censors with “Assia’s Story” (1967) which was released only 25 years later, but was nevertheless allowed to go on and direct less controversial subjects, including adaptations of Russian classics such as Turgenyev’s “A Nest of gentle Folks”and Chekhov’s “Uncle Vanya”. After the tremendous success of his saga, “Siberiade” (1979) which won a Special Jury Prize in Cannes, he moved to the west and started making movies in US, such as “Maria’s Lovers” (1984), “Runaway Train” (1985) and “Shy People”(1987). Back in Moscow, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, he goes on to direct both in the east and the west, not only cinema but also theatre. His film, “The Postman’s White Nights” was awarded a Special Jury Prize in Venice 2014, and he won Best Director Prize in Venice 2018 for “Ray”. Since 2013 he is the President of the Russian Film Academy.