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Optical Axis

2013 DOK Leipzig, International Competition Documentary Film
Russia | 2013 | 90 min. | Russian | English subtitles | World Premiere
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Optical Axis | Opticheskaya os

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
Original Title: Opticheskaya os
Country: Russia
Year: 2013
Language: Russian
Subtitle: English
Runtime: 90 min.
Format: Beta DIGITAL (PAL)
Color: Colour
Director: Marina Razbezhkina
Producer: Marina Razbezhkina
Cinematographer: Denis Klebleev, Irina Uralskaya
Editor: Yury Geddert
Sound: Yury Geddert
Script: Marina Razbezhkina
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The texts to the Documentary Competition films and the International Programme films were written by the members of the selection committee. All quotes from DOK Leipzig catalogue articles must be identified as such and cite the author’s name. All articles where no author’s name is given are production notes.