Thursday 23.5. / 7.15 pm / Kinoteka Cinema

Grace /

Russia, 2023, 119'
Director: Ilya Povolotsky · Screenplay: Ilya Povolotsky · Photography: Nikolai Zheludovich · Editing: Aleksandr Kletsov, Ilya Povolotsky · Production: Ivan Nechaev, Ilya Povolotsky, Victoria E. Chernukha (Black Chamber) · Roles: Maria Lukyanova, Gela Chitava, Eldar Safikanov, Kseniya Kutepova

A battered red camper travels through a desolate Russian province, carrying a teenage girl, her father and a rickety movie projector. Father and daughter travel the vast, winding and seemingly empty back roads of rural Russia in a rusty, run-down van that serves as both home and means of transportation for the adolescent girl and her living parent (the mother travels with them in an urn). She is used to her father’s melancholy and sporadic adventures with women, he puts up with her impulsive whims – and they mostly live together in amicable silence. The renegade lifestyle they lead has become routine – they buy gasoline on the black market, carefully choose routes to avoid police checks and roadblocks. They make money by running a mobile cinema, selling tickets and beer to the local population who come to watch screenings of films such as Aleksei Balabanov’s crime drama Brother or Nigina Sayfullaeva’s Loyalty (the latter, perhaps not coincidentally, being about the relationship between a father and daughter). Secretly, they also sell pirated porn on DVDs. Life is precarious and the two find themselves in a situation where they have to flee the city more than once, when their DVDs fall into the hands of a group of schoolchildren. But everything changes when they head north. During their journey, from Kabardino-Balkaria to the shores of the White Sea, they slowly, inevitably drift apart. Their entire world packed tight in the cramped space of the camper, all their hopes, agonies and a past that was previously hidden – eventually explode.

Atmospheric and yet impenetrable, this road film explores generational tensions and the coming-of-age story in a distinctive and original way. Although the story is contemporary, it possesses a certain timeless quality, and Povolotsky manages to give the well-known genre an unusual urgency. Echoes of Tarkovsky echo through the icy landscapes as we sense the possibility of escaping and achieving individuality. The girl’s last whim becomes Pascal’s wager for her own independence. In the words of Flannery O’Connor, “All human nature vigorously resists grace because grace changes us and the change is painful.” Afterwards, the balance of power between the father and daughter changes drastically. The silence between them remains, but each has gained a new understanding of the other, as frivolity is transformed into a blissful sense of freedom.

Awards and Festivals:

Cannes Film Festival (2023) – world premiere; San Sebastián International Film Festival (2023); Stockholm Film Festival (2023) – Best Cinematography; Thessaloniki Film Festival (2023); Lisbon & Estoril Film Festival (2023); Torino Film Festival (2023); São Paulo International Film Festival (2023); Auteur Film Festival, Serbia (2023) – Best Director; New Directors/New Films (2024)


Ilya Povolotsky was born in 1987 in Izhevsk. He studied law and after graduation, started a small production company. At first, he directed commercial work and then moved on to independent film projects. His first short film Northerners was shown at Krakow Film Festival and Camerimage Festival in Toruń. This was followed by his first feature film Froth (2019), which received a Special Mention at IDFA and worldwide recognition (including the Big Stamp Award at ZagrebDox 2020).