Marina Razbezhkina approaches post-Soviet Russia and its people from the fringes. Rather than the big cities and centres of power, what this filmmaker born in 1948 in Kazan captures in compassionately perceptive observations are ordinary people, mostly from the countryside.
Life As It Is (2002); Director: Marina Razbezhkina
The director, screenwriter and producer became known to an international audience through her feature-length film “Harvest Time”. To date Razbezhkina has made a total of around 30 films, many of which have been screened at international film festivals. She has repeatedly been a guest at DOK Leipzig as well. With this homage DOK Leipzig is honouring the documentary filmmaking by Razbezhkina, who has unfailingly maintained her integrity within the Russian cinematic landscape. Alongside well-known works such as “Life as It Is”, “The Holidays”, or “Another Country”, early gems from the filmmaker can also be seen, films which have hardly run on an international scale until now and have been subtitled especially for DOK Leipzig.
The Holidays (2005); Director: Marina Razbezhkina
The spectrum of Razbezhkina’s film oeuvre ranges from Direct Cinema works to quasi-documentary feature-length films and on to more experimental projects, for instance “End of the Road”. On this excursion to an ethnic group called the Mari in 1991, the year of the attempted coup d’état, while this event of worldwide importance is being broadcast on radio the director is plainly less interested in Gorbachev than in an eerily deserted village and its dormant railroad tracks. Equally set out in the sticks, the film “Life as It Is” devotes itself to a resolute, ageing female protagonist between rides on a tractor, peeling potatoes and studying lonely hearts columns. Against the background of the love songs she hums, the yearnings of everyday life are revealed. In contrast, Razbezhkina’s most well-known documentary entitled “The Holidays” immerses the viewer in the rhythm of a family that copes with its day-to-day life in the midst of the harsh Siberian snowscape.
Shrove Sunday (2013); Director: Dina Barinova
Yet Razbezhkina displays an affection for people not only in her films: she consistently seeks interactive exchange with young filmmakers. As the head of a school for documentary film in Moscow, together with co-founder Mikhail Ugarov she established a significant alternative to VGIK, the state university of cinematography. Razbezhkina persistently stands up to authoritarian and patriarchal structures. With the school and her own studio she has established a trailblazing tradition of Direct Cinema for today’s Russian documentary genre. The homage ushers in this tradition with a programme dedicated to students of her work.
As an active supporter of young talent, it’s only logical that Razbezhkina additionally selects the winning film in the Next Masters Competition at DOK Leipzig. She will also be passing on the experiences she has made in a Master Class. Last of all, Razbezhkina is marking this year’s edition of the festival with a festival trailer she designed especially for DOK Leipzig.
Barbara Wurm, a film scholar and specialist in Slavonic studies, acted as curator for the Homage programme.