Life in the Siberian countryside is celebrated in this delightful film that follows an itinerant photographer on a mission to provide country folk with the photos necessary for new Russian identity papers.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2010
In the remote Siberian countryside, as in the rest of the Russian Federation, Soviet-era internal passports are being phased out and Russian identity papers will become the norm. It’s a heaven-sent opportunity for an itinerant photographer. He wends his way from village to farm, setting up an impromptu studio wherever he stops. Mindful that folk must look decent for their portraits, he lends his own jacket if need be, or suggests a flattering pose. Each face, framed 35×45, passport size, tells a story; a few are recounted silently in a succession of still shots; others out loud by the subjects as the shot is set up. The Soviet era may officially be extinct, but so far change has provided little – except unpaid wages – and new identity papers don’t necessarily mean progress, or take people any further afield. Nor will they hinder life’s ebb and flow, or keep country weddings from culminating in dancing merriment. This delightful film invites us into a world that it celebrates in a style as unadorned and simple as the lives it depicts. — SR