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Countryside 35x45

Dir. Evgeny Solomin, Russia, 2009, 43 min
Countryside 35x45

All Soviet passports have to be replaced by Russian identity papers. This means lots of work for an unusual photographer with bushy eyebrows, a round, wrinkly head, and an immaculate handlebar mustache. He travels along barely passable roads of mud to remote villages in Siberia to provide everyone with a new passport photograph. We follow him everywhere: at home, on the road, and at work, in a succession of static, black-and-white shots. The film camera focuses on bystanders or the interior, or shows the final photographs while we hear the process that led to their taking. Old women pour their hearts out to the photographer, complaining about aching knees; a man says that, apart from an advance, he hasn't been paid in eight years; the photographer compliments a young woman, and lends a couple of workmen his jacket. After all, they have to look a bit respectable for the camera. Replete with observations of everyday life, the film provides an impression of a tough, simple, and above all old-fashioned existence. Whether the new passports will also bring modern Russian culture to this simple life remains to be seen.

Description is provided by IDFA film festival

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