The Settlement

Seregy Loznitsa, 2002, 79 min

The Settlement is a critically acclaimed, visually arresting documentary about a strange community in the Russian countryside, from renowned documentary filmmaker Sergei Loznitsa. A master of detailed, minimalist observation, Loznitsa introduces us to a rural settlement where the residents are seemingly involved in everyday farm work  -  harvesting fields, chopping wood, working at a sawmill, maintaining the property. Yet as we watch the workers, we notice strange inconsistencies in their routines  -  the wood never appears to be cut, the grain never harvested  -  and it soon becomes apparent that what we are witnessing is neither a farm nor some sort of labor commune. Gradually, we come to understand the workers, are in fact, patients. Their daily chores, though earnestly performed, serve only therapeutic purposes.  Suffused with the sounds and rhythm of rural life, The Settlement is an exceptional and enigmatic film. A parable of post - Soviet society? A testament to the importance of nature in our modern lives? With a haunting coda that perhaps hints at an answer, The Settlement is a film that forces us to consider the world in which we live.