Opening 1 Sep 2011
In a landscape of snow, wind, ice, water, cliffs – totally rough nature – the sole inhabitants are Sergei (Sergei Puskepalis) and Pavel (Grigory Dobrygin). Where a research center once existed, Sergei is a meteorologist whose job it is to regularly measure the radioactivity levels on this island in the Arctic and to radio them back to the mainland. Pavel is a student who signed up for a summer job. Because of Pavel's youth and laziness there are clearly some problems between the two. Sergei is usually quite patient, but a bit of father/son-type conflict exists.
Everything is under control, so Sergei decides to take a little fishing expedition while the local Arctic char are plentiful. Pavel is left to fend for himself. During Sergei's short absence, Pavel receives an order from the mainland to inform Sergei of important but tragic family news. He cannot get up his nerve to do so, and when Sergei later learns what has happened, he is furious and goes on a rampage. What has been a movie of pure peace and quiet now gradually escalates into one of terror and becomes a sort of survival thriller.
Becky Tan adds: The wild and beautiful environment is like a third actor in this two-man drama, which reminded me of 127 Hours and the film by Duncan Jones (aka Zowie/Joey Bowie) called Moon. Like these two films, How I Ended This Summer holds your concentrated attention throughout an atmosphere of solitary emptiness, where only a few could survive. Directed by Alexei Popogrebsky, the prize for best actor was given to both Puskepalis and Dobrygin, as well as a prize for outstanding artistic contribution/camera, at the 2010 Berlinale film festival. It has received prizes at film festivals in London, Chicago, France, Russia, and Belgium, and won Russia’s best movie, screenplay and camera in 2010. (Thelma Freedman)