17-02-2010

FNE at Berlinale 2010: Competition How I Ended the Summer (Kak ya provel etim letom)

By

BERLIN:Russian director Alexei Popogrebsky's film How I Ended the Summer has a cast of just two actors who are isolated at a remote meteorological station in the far north. But the real protagonist of the film is the beautiful and dangerous landscape of this polar island in the Russian Arctic where the film was shot.

Two men, Sergei, an experienced meteorologist and Pavel, a young graduate, are waiting for a ship that is expected soon to pick them up and take them back to their homes. Sergei has been away from his wife and family for several years and is anxious to get home. Pavel, who has only been on the island for a short time is still hoping for adventure. Then news comes that the ship will not arrive and the two men will be on the island for another year. It is a time of testing under extreme conditions and Pavel undergoes a metamorphosis from a boy to a man.

Popogrebsky shot the film over three months at Russia's northern most weather station and during the shooting the whole team encountered the danger of this remote island. They often faced the same conditions as the characters in the film. The director speaking at the press conference said he had always been fascinated by the diaries of Russian polar explorers and Arctic stations. He compared the location where the film was shot to the house in Tarkovsky's Solaris.

"The location was the most important aspect of the film," he said, "we were in sync with nature and isolated from the urban environment. In such extreme conditions something happens to the characters. They are tested."

The film sees this rough landscape through the eyes of a young urban man. There is a clash of the two characters who see the world from a different set of coordinates. The unearthly extreme landscape gives the film a very intense very spiritual context. Popogrebsky tells a simple story that becomes a legend.

Director: Alexei Popogrebsky

Cast: Grigori Dobrygin, Sergei Puskepalis

Worldsales: Bavaria Film International