Zhit (Living) (2012) Film. Director : Vasili Sigarev

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It is already a challenge to make a film on death and call it Living. But Sigarev fearlessly gets to the very heart of things, where life, death, God, love and the imagination form an indestructible whole. A harsh and sometimes brutal experience, but catharsis will follow.

Vasily Sigarev’s second feature, after his acclaimed Wolfy, is an existential portrait of protagonists living in a wintry Russian province. A mother wants to reunite with her twin daughters. A young couple marry in church, but immediately after the ceremony, God – or maybe the Devil, or maybe Blind Fate – tests their love in the most brutal way. A boy wants to see his estranged father, despite his mother’s violent protests. Each of these characters lives through their own ordeal.

Among all the sorrows imaginable, Sigarev focuses on the most devastating: death. Without any sentimentality, but with brutal sincerity, he has made a fiercely personal yet artistically crafted film on the complexity of being.

A prominent author of extremely truthful plays written in the tradition of ‘new drama’, Sigarev takes his art a few steps further by meticulously depicting the bleak routine of everyday life, while at the same time searching for something hidden beneath its surface. He tackles a fundamental question: Is there catharsis in life, and therefore in art? If so, can our sorrows be healed? And if not, how can one escape despair and go on living? An enigma that transforms this ‘realistic’ film into a universal parable, revealing a mystery and even – in spite of all the bleakness – a miracle. –IFFR (Mubi)