Tuškanac Cinema / Saturday 20 May / 21.15

Fairytale /

Russia, Belgium, 2022, 78'
Director: Alexander Sokurov · Screenplay: Alexander Sokurov · Photography: · Editing: · Production: Nikolay Yankin – Intonations · Cast: Alexander Sagabashi, Vakhtang Kuchava, Fabio Mastrangelo, Lothar Deeg, Tim Ettelt, Pascal Slivansky

Alexander Sokurov’s first film after a seven-year break is also his first attempt at animated film, done of course, in his own particular way. Men that have tasted unbridled power and marked the twentieth century with their cruel misdoings, such as Hitler (Moloch, 1999), Lenin (Taurus, 2001) and Hirohito (The Sun, 2005) often appear as protagonists of Sokurov’s filmography. This time, a handful of them assemble at the Gates of Heaven. Filmed with no support from the Russian government, the fantastical experimental fairy tale Skazka follows the conversations between Adolph Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Joseph Stalin and Winston Churchill in Purgatory, using archival footage and deepfake technology, also featuring Jesus and Napoleon. This old master has a very intriguing way of using new technologies – innovation here is in service of an archaic fairy tale done as a pictorial: violent and destructive historical figures exchange seemingly mundane gossip and banter, they rehash their ideological premises and express admiration for the hat collection of the recently deceased Queen Lizzie, who at the time still hadn’t joined this boy’s club. At one point someone even says “Leave the communists alone, I feel sorry for them.” The characters are set in a purgatorial ambient, such as those depicted by Piranesi or Dürer, as they wander aimlessly along a surreal, Dantean landscape based on the ruins of old Europe. The dead are dead, the victims are nameless and their murderers are able to make their plea to otherworldly forces. All is forgotten, all are forgiven – it seems that history has taught us nothing. All actions are levelled, all sins are unrepented – and this may be the greatest provocation that Sokurov delivers at 72 years old, by bringing together these fallen giants in an austere twentieth-century fairy tale. (DP)

Awards and Festivals:

Locarno Film Festival (2022) – world premiere; Seville European Film Festival (2023); Festival autorskog filma (2022)

Alexander Sokurov was born in 1951 in the Siberian village of Podorvikha. As son of a military officer, he spent his childhood moving frequently. At first he studied history, then film, coming into conflict with his professors early on, but gaining Tarkovsky’s support soon after creating his first works. He directed over 50 films, including the famous tetralogy about the corrupting effects of power: Moloch (1999) about Hitler, Taurus (2001) about Lenin, The Sun (2005) about Hirohito and Faust (2011). Other important films: Russian Ark (2002), his first feature film recorded using a single sequence shot, Mother and Son (1996), Father and Son (2003), Alexandra (2007).