dir. Vladimir Loginov, Estonia 2023
Especially during Putin’s rule, the New Year’s address of the Russian President has become a tradition aiming to fortify the unity of the Russian people. After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the end of 2022 saw the formerly traditional backdrop of the Kremlin replaced by a group of soldiers. In the film by Estonian Vladimir Loginov, we focus on a young boy standing behind Putin, whose proposed inner soundtrack may surprise us.
Content warning: sounds of war
A revolution seems unambiguously the best way to end social repression. However, sometimes the magic bullet gets stuck in the barrel of the gun or is proven to be a dud, and the oppression ends only to be continued in another form.
The film by Vlad Petri takes place, as the title suggests, between the revolutions of two different countries. In the 1970s, among other things, student exchange was happening between the communist dictatorship in Romania led by Nicolae Ceaușescu and the monarchy led by the last Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, which was leaning towards the Western coalition. One of the young people who ended up in Bukarest to study medicine was Zahra, whose friendship with local Maria we are following through correspondence found in the police’s archives.
Or so we imagine doing, since the writings are fiction, even though there is no reason to doubt the authenticity of the letters.
The communication between Zahra, who returned to her homeland, and Maria, who stayed in Romania, creates a lens through which the social turmoil is being inspected. This intimate longing for each other is accompanied by Romanian schlager music and Persian classics. What makes the mosaic startling is partially unseen archival footage, which shines a light on these countries’ progression from communism to capitalism and from sovereignty to the hold of the priesthood. One can avoid trampling in the swamp by stepping into the sea, but your feet still end up wet.
Minna Saarinen (translated by Jenni Kaunisto)