Film Archive

Jahr

Die Trasse

Documentary Film
Czech Republic,
Germany,
Russia
2013
121 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Natalia Manskaya, Filip Remunda, Vít Klusák, Simone Baumann
Vitaly Mansky
Alexandra Ivanova
Pavel Mendel-Ponamarev
Vitaly Mansky
Dmitry Nazarov
It was – as the “IG Erdgastrasse” (IG Natural Gas Pipeline) claims on a website still designed in the German-Soviet friendship style – the “construction of the century”. It started with the ground-breaking ceremony on 6 June 1966 in near-arctic West Siberia, took on real transcontinental form in the pre-Perestroika years (to Reagan’s horror) and today supplies, among other things, the raw material for one of the major ritual events in Western Europe: the Rheingas-fuelled Rose Monday Parade in Cologne. The “Urengoy-Pomary-Uzhgorod Pipeline” stretches from the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug to the Gulf of Biscay, as unnoticeable as everything else to do with our energy supply. But in terms of geo-politics, -ecologics and -economics, it’s a massive goldmine – with quite noticeable consequences (dependencies, blind faith in technology, environmental damage).
Vitaly Mansky, who last travelled through Cuba in “Motherland or Death”, now explores our own unfamiliar home along this subterranean trail. The politically obstinate documentary maestro is interested in the lives of those who live near and above the pipeline, though not necessarily off it (no money, no gas): indigenous ice fishers, Orthodox Church processions, Putin-supporting tuba players, Gorbachev-critical veterans, angry Roma, cursing Polish men and Virgin Mary-adoring Polish women. He flirts with stereotypes while adroitly avoiding them. Big screen cinema, visually powerful and with great sound design.

Barbara Wurm



MDR Film Prize 2013

Optical Axis

Documentary Film
Russia
2013
90 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Marina Razbezhkina
Marina Razbezhkina
Denis Klebleev, Irina Uralskaya
Yury Geddert
Marina Razbezhkina
Yury Geddert
To understand how post-Soviet society works it is usually juxtaposed with Soviet society – or at least the idea of the latter that survived in our minds. Marina Razbezhkina, uncontested master of the documentary, takes a different path. She skips the mystified Soviet age to confront various social groups of the present age (they used to be called “classes”) with their historic counterparts in the shape of life-sized photos, moving from the bottom to the top of the professional resp. income scale, from homeless persons to strippers, factory workers, craftsmen, doctors, Old Believers through to those who visit a national bank: jewellers, contractors, investors, and coin collectors. The locations today and in the past – almost precisely 100 years ago – are the same: Nizhniy Novgorod and its surroundings. The photo journalist Maxim Dmitriev – the Russian August Sander – “was in love with reality”, the end credits quote respectfully. So is Razbezhkina. How fortunate for a country that has otherwise lost most of its sharp lenses and readjusted its optical axes. A model film to boot: for all those who always wanted to know how to take the precise measurements of a section of society without recourse to clumsy conceptual bridges but with brains, heart and skill.

Barbara Wurm