A LONG AND HAPPY LIFE – Dolgaya schastlivaya zhizn

Tegen de achtergrond van een verafgelegen landschap dat overgeleverd is aan de elementen, voltrekt zich het lot van een onwankelbare, fatsoenlijke man die weigert toe te geven aan corruptie en hebzucht. Hij riskeert daarmee alles te verliezen wat hem lief is.

Sasha leeft in een dorpje op het Noord-Russische schiereiland Kola en runt daar een voormalige Kolchoze (collectieve boerderij). Hij kan goed opschieten met de landarbeiders; ze respecteren hem en tolereren zijn liefdesrelatie met Anya, secretaresse op het gemeentehuis.
Op een dag wordt Sasha geconfronteerd met een dilemma: de staat koopt land op van kleine landeigenaren. Voor Sasha de kans om het platteland te ontvluchten, en naar de stad terug te keren, samen met Anya. Maar de arbeiders komen in opstand en overtuigen Sasha de boerderij, het enige overlevingsmiddel voor het dorp en haar inwoners, niet te verkopen. Hij is geraakt door de rol van leider die ze hem toedichten, besluit hen te helpen en zet de onderhandelingen stop. De plaatselijke ambtenaren zijn woedend en zijn vriendin voelt zich verlaten. Sasha bevindt zich ineens in een gevecht dat niet het zijne is, verstrikt in een web van passie, trots, corruptie en onomkeerbare gebeurtenissen.

Over A Long and Happy Life:
A Long and Happy Life is het slotdeel van Boris Khlebnikov’s trilogie over onvermijdelijke keuzes. De twee eerste films, Free Floating en Help Gone Mad, kregen een warm onthaal op internationale filmfestivals.
De scenario’s voor de drie films werden geschreven door Alexander Rodionov:
“Voor A Long and Happy Life hebben Boris Khlebnikov en ik de agrarische sector bestudeerd en interviews gedaan in centraal en Noord-Rusland. We werden gegrepen door het enthousiasme en doorzettingsvermogen van de mensen. Uit alle personen die we spraken, probeerden we de stoutmoedigste, maar niet de succesvolste, jonge boer te kiezen die als prototype voor het hoofdpersonage Sasha zou kunnen fungeren. Zijn ervaringen gebruikten we als prisma door welke wij Sasha’s conflict konden bestuderen. Het conflict tussen de droom van een Lang en gelukkig Leven en de droom van vrijheid, onafhankelijkheid en het recht om keuze’s te maken.

Director’s Statement It all began when I watched, for the umpteenth time, the 1952 American Western High Noon. At some point, just for fun, I came up with a Russian version of the story. At first, I didn’t take it seriously. But for some reason, I gradually came to believe that I could really do this. I wanted to make a full-on, modern-day Western. We when we started to study the subject of the story, as we began to visit farms, naturally, the plot and the genre began to fall apart. We were deluged with observations that pulled the story in a completely different direction. We shot the film in the north, on the Tersky Coast of the White Sea, in the village of Umba in Murmansk Region. The area has a unique natural beauty: pinewoods, cliffs, and small plots of land that used to house farms. It was crucial that we convey the sense that this village is very far from Moscow, that this is a place where the relationship between people and government is more direct. When I saw the way trees and bushes consume and destroy the deserted farms, I knew this was the perfect location for our shoot. Here, you get a real sense that nature is watching everything we do, that it is stronger than us.

Comments from scriptwriter Alexander Rodionov For the screenplay, Boris Khlebnikov and I studied the farming industry, collecting observations and conducting interviews in central and northern Russia. We were captivated by the bravery and enthusiasm of all sorts of people: young and old, talented businessmen and risk takers, people from old farming families and recent emigrants from the city. Out of all the people we spoke to, we tried to pick the boldest, though not the most successful, young farmer as the prototype for Sasha, our main character. We used his experience as the prism through which we examined the conflict that emerges between the dream of ‘a long and happy life’, and the dream of freedom, independence, and the right to choose.

Vanaf 30 juni 2016 is LONG AND HAPPY LIFE, A te zien in de filmtheaters.

filmposter long and happy life

Rusland; 2013; kleur; 77 minuten; Dolby 5.1;
Russisch gesproken; Nederlands ondertiteld.

Credits

Regisseur:
Acteurs: Alexander Yatsenko, Anna Kotova, Vladimir Korobeinikov, Sergey Nasedkin, Eugene Sitiy, Inna Sterligova, Alexander Aliabiev, Sergey Pestrikov, Gleb Puskepalis
Productie: Koktebel Film Company, Roman Borisovich, Alexander Kushaev
Camera: Pavel Kostomarov
Montage: Ivan Lebedev
Scenario: Alexander Rodionov, Boris Khlebnikov
Design/Set decoration: Olga Khlebnikova
Kostuums: Svetlana Mikhailova
Sound-Design: Maxim Belovolov

Over de regisseur:

Boris Khlebnikov (1972) studeerde twee jaar biologie in Moskou, voordat hij zich inschreef voor de Nationale Filmschool. Zijn speelfilmdebuut was Roads to Koktebel, dat hij samen met Aleksey Popogrebsky regisseerde.

Boris Khlebnikov was born on 28 August 1972. Before enrolling in the All-Union State Institute of Cinematography, he spent two years studying biology at the Moscow State Pedagogical Institute. His feature-length directorial debut was Roads to Koktebel / Koktebel, co-directed with Aleksey Popogrebsky.

2003 – Roads to Koktebel / Koktebel (co-directed with Aleksey Popogrebsky) 2006 – Free Floating / Svobodnoe plavanie
2009 – Help Gone Mad / Sumasshedshaya pomoshch
2009 – Crush / Korotkoe zamykanie (segment from Shame / Pozor)

2012 – Nowhere to Rush / Nekuda speshit (segment from Salvation Tunnel / Spasitelny tunnel)
2012 – Until the Night Separates Us / Poka noch ne razluchit
2013 – A Long and Happy Life / Dolgaya schastlivaya zhizn

About A Long and Happy Life

A Long and Happy Life / Dolgaya schastlivaya zhizn is the conclusion of Boris Khlebnikov’s trilogy about the inevitability of choice. The first two films, Free Floating / Svobodnoe plavanie and Help Gone Mad / Sumasshedshaya pomoshch, enjoyed a warm reception at international film screenings. The screenplays for all three films were written by Alexander Rodionov. A Long and Happy Life stars Alexander Yatsenko.

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De pers over LONG AND HAPPY LIFE, A

Anyone familiar with the m.o. of Russian arthouse films will immediately assume the title “A Long and Happy Life” is meant to be ironic, and so it proves with this short and sad film… reps a solid piece of craftsmanship… cleaving roughly in spirit to the “High Noon” template, the plot tracks how, one by one, the villagers let Sasha down and betray him, even Zhenia (reliable character thesp Evgeny Sitiy), the most vocal hothead in favor of fighting, who swindles Sasha out of 15,000 roubles (about $500) so he can skip town. The only one left is a gormless kid with nowhere else to go (Gleb Puskepalis, once the child star of Khlebnikov’s co-directed 2003 debut, “Koktebel”)… Although “Life’s” core premise technically makes at “inaction” film of sorts, Khlebnikov spikes the tempo with some pacey, nicely kinetic sequences, including a ominous fire-fighting scene at the start that demonstrates Sasha’s natural leadership abilities, and a climactic shootout that is striking for its subdued use of sound and unusual camera angles. Indeed, d.p. Pavel Kostomarov’s digital lensing reps a highlight, especially the painterly way it captures the glowering beauty of the volatile nearby river and the brightly colored autumnal landscape of the Murmansk Region where the pic was shot. Intentionally jagged editing also creates a nervy, tense feel in the middle reels…

— Leslie Felperin, VARIETY

A spoiler alert is hardly required to tip you off that the title is ironic. A Long Happy Life (Dolgaya Schastlivaya Zhizn) is a short, downbeat film, a realist fable about how tough times have become for the honest man in contemporary Russia. With subject matter and tone suggesting a Russian rural Ken Loach – although without his usual affirmative endings – Boris Khlebnikov’s film gets by on its simple, direct storytelling and a likable doomed hero… Visually, the film is in a mode of no-fuss wintry rural realism – with flashes of dynamic camera in the early scene of a house fire, and the leitmotif of a rushing river suggesting that, despite political changes, some things in Russia are eternal.

The appealing if undemonstrative Alexander Yatsenko is cleverly cast to embody a now-devalued archetype; with his broad, candid features, he could have been a lead actor in the Soviet social realist dramas of yore, although the film makes it clear that his noble breed is now as doomed as the dinosaur.

— Jonathan Romney, SCREEN INTERNATIONAL

Partly inspired by the classic Gary Cooper western High Noon, director Boris Khlebnikov’s Berlin competition feature is an elemental tale of rural conflict in contemporary Russia which might equally have been set in Dostojevsky’s time. Starkly shot on hand-held digital camera in natural light by former Berlinale cinematography prize-winner Pavel Kostomarov, A Long and Happy Life boasts an agreeably raw lo-fi aesthetic… Brief and bitter, in pointed defiance of its ironic title, A Long and Happy Life has the right ingredients for a fatalistic social drama in the grand Russian tradition. The plot is riven with human conflict, the bare-bones style has its own austere poetry…

— Stephen Dalton, THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

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