One place. One day. Two men.
The place is a polar station on a remote island in the Arctic Ocean. A day up here in the far north lasts weeks, since the sun never sets during the summer at this high latitude. This used to be an important research station but, Sergei, an experienced meteorologist and Pavel, a high school graduate, are now the only inhabitants. Soon a ship will arrive to pick up the two men. For Sergei this will mean the end of a sojourn that has lasted several years. He is anxious about returning to his wife and child on the mainland. For his part, Pavel hopes that he might yet be able to experience the kind of real adventure he was dreaming of when he volunteered for an internship in this desolate region. And then one day when Sergei is out angling, Pavel picks up a radio message that he daren’t communicate to Sergei.
Pavel does everything he can to keep the message from Sergei, in the hope that the ship’s arrival will relieve him of this particular task. But then Pavel learns that the ship will not be coming to pick them up at all this year.
Director Alexei Popogrebski found the inspiration for his psychological polar thriller in the dairies of N. V. Pinegin which were written in 1912 when Pinegin accompanied Russian polar explorer Georgio J. Sedov on his tragic attempt to reach the North Pole. Popogrebski read these diaries as a fourteen-year-old. “I have been fascinated, ever since, by this ability to come to terms with notions of time and space so drastically different from our common scale of hours and minutes, or blocks and metro stops. This film, essentially, is a story of two personal (and incompatible) time-and-space scales.” —Berlinale
Alexei Popogrebsky was born in 1972 in Moscow. He graduated from the Psychology Department of Moscow State University. In 1997, he made his first documentary film, Mimokhod, (16mm, 21 min.), together with Boris Khlebnikov. He was the editor of Khlebnikov’s Tricky Frog (2000). – www.berlinale.de -
Who is to judge what is "realistic" in a situation following two characters completely isolated in the Arctic dealing with tragedy and the meaning of their lives? Though some of Sergei's actions (as well as Pasha's reactions) were strange, perhaps it is years of menial work building up to nothing - a man who can't find meaning in a meaningless job, and that job is his life. Beautiful scenery and simple storytelling.
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