Another still from “Katya, Vitya, Dima”

Graduation in a rural village, Voronezh region, Russia

This is one of those movies that has seriously reminded me of my age. Not necessarily in a bad way.

I suppose it’s natural for Alexey to shoot a film that’s mostly about kids – now that we have our own kid. And I’m glad I’ve been involved in this project from the start. Being his wife, it was inevitable, but some people don’t realize just *to what extent* I’ve had to be involved: whether it’s giving editing suggestions at 4 a.m. when I’m pumping breast milk, or sacrificing the family budget when we suddenly need a new computer monitor.

In our household this month, we’re dealing with a little baby boy, a hysterical director trying to finish a documentary he single-handedly shot and edited, and a cranky new mother who’s just gone back to work and who’s just had to deal with her new play premiering at the Lyubimovka festival. You can imagine what it’s been like. Or don’t, actually – if you don’t want the nightmares to haunt you.

I’m proud of us for not having gone completely insane, though. The other day, with the nanny spending the night at our place, Alexey and I sat in a kitchen of a hostel on Moscow’s busy Garden Ring, listening to the legendary playwright and screenwriter Slava Durnenkov desribe the equally legendary Hagia Sophia like only Slava Durnenkov can. A part of me wanted desperately to be home with Lev, but another part recognized the fact that I needed my walkies. I wound up ejecting Dima Bogoslavsky from the bedroom so that I could pump. Bogoslavsky is probably the biggest success of this year’s Lyubimovka – his play will soon premiere at the Mayakovsky Theater. Now that Mindaugas Karabauskis is in charge of that place, living playwrights can actually, you know, have their premiere there and stuff.

Speaking of the Mayakovsky – thanks to the nanny, again, we actually went to the Mayak restaurant next door after a night of readings at the festival. I like the Mayak – I just don’t like it on the weekends. On the weekends, some of the guests try extra hard to remind everyone that they’re freewheeling artist-types, and bang on the piano extra hard as well. It was good to sort of have a social life again, though, wreathed in smoke or otherwise.

The reading of my own new play, “The lives of living people,” went fine. Not great – but fine, considering the pressure on Alexey to edit the movie and hold rehearsals, and considering the fact that I was re-writing the new draft in the heat of the summer, with an enormous belly weighing me down. The best part was realizing that the main heroine, as interpreted by glamorous Alexandra Rebenok, is kinda a bad person.

That night on the Garden Ring, Slava asked us – “Who financed the film project? Who are the other crew members?” We had to explain that there was no funding, it was just Alexey and me, and our money. We had to explain that there was no crew. I haven’t realized before how fantastical that might seem from the outside – that this movie got done, and that it looks the way it does, and that it happens to tell a pretty profound story straight from the margins of Russian society.

I suppose we’re allowed to feel tired.

A still from Alexey Zhiryakov’s “Katya, Vitya, Dima”

katya vitya dima by alexey zhiryakov

“Katya, Vitya, Dima” is the English title. The working title in Russian is “Дом у дороги.”

A good wife must promote her husband’s work at every opportunity – which is working against me at the moment, because anything I might say may be suspect. “Oh, of course she would say that.”

It’s a shame, because I watched the rought cut version last night, wiped away the tears, and said something like, “Well, hell, darling. It was certainly worth it to have you gone so much in the last trimester of the pregnancy.”

The movie was shot in the spring and summer of 2011, in the village of Shestakovo, Voronezh region, Russian Federation. It focuses on a married couple and their three kids. It’s a documentary whose style personally reminds me of Sofia Coppola.

I’ll write more about it when I have the chance to gather my thoughts.

Vladimir Lymaryov from Chelyabinsk: you’re awesome. As opposed to Nikita Mikhalkov (I know that comparison makes it easy, but still)

Hence this:

From Vladimir Lymaryov & Did I mention that Vladimir Lymaryov, whoever he is, is kinda awesome?

Oh, and look, more awesome here.

Meanwhile, releasing “Citadel”, the THIRD freaking installment in the whole “Burnt by the sun” saga, on May 5, just 4 days before the May 9 Victory Day holidays, is NOT EXPLOITATIVE AT ALL, YOU GAIZ. I mean, I’m not surprised – Mikhalkov did the same thing last year. But still.

*sigh* And I’d liked “12” so very much…

The mother of Schwester Ines didn’t quite suffocate me in my sleep (but it was close)

If Christiane Lilge, the director of “Schwester Ines,” [Sister Ines] wanted to explode my brain and the brain of everyone attempting to slog through German shorts night at the Molodist film festival, I think she came pretty close. Closer than any other director featured. This was one of those experimental horror films that make Norman Bates’ relationship with his mother look like something out of “The Brady Bunch.” I think I spent the best portion of this movie with my face buried on someone else’s shoulder, yelling things like “holyJesusconventionmakeitstop,” and I like horror movies, and consider yelling in theaters to be dreadfully rude and amateurish. The interesting thing is, there’s no actual violence. The brain-busting terror is completely centered on and in the female body.

“OK, you can look now,” dude would say. “OH NO WAIT HOLY SHIT DON’T.” I noticed I wasn’t the only one following his directions. For a short film, it went on forever. Through the general haze, I wondered if you could make the argument that “Schwester Ines” is a misogynist picture. I don’t think you can, really. It’s damn effective, though, and it captures the anxiety surrounding gestation and birth and the ties between a child and her mother, and then it makes you want to vomit out of fear on top of everything else. You’re going to say that anxieties about the female body in particular are kind of an old theme, but there’s something about the way they’re executed here – the transformation of the muted pink walls of the strange OBGYN clinic, combined with the breathy female voice on the intercom oozing fake concern, is startlingly well done – that’s impressive enough to override all that.

Last night was an interesting night in general – I could justify the way “Schwester Ines” got to me via the interestingness, but that would rob Lilge of credit – so I guess you can just say that Halloween was duly and properly celebrated, finally. I haven’t had a proper Halloween in years. I kind of feel like the spirits were getting vengeful there for a while – not getting their due and all. If DMX has taught me anything it is that “It don’t matter if you win or lose, you still gotta pay them dues.” So thanks to everyone who allowed it to happen. And thank you greatly for the wine.

Stopped at a red light at 4 a.m. for conscience’s sake, the taxi driver turned to us and said, “look, snowflakes.” And there they were, in the glow of the headlights. And no, Velen, I didn’t have nightmares after all.

Sexy Movies Fail

Because it’s been a horrible few days (folks who have e-mailed – I shall e-mail you back, just give me a moment to process, so I don’t sound like a moron), and, therefore, some lulz are desperately needed in this corner of cyberspace – here is Joe Sapien on “Sexy Movies that Make You Want to Stab Yourself.”

A word of advice – do not attempt to dredge up that Jack Nicholson & Jessica Lange clip from “The Postman Always Rings Twice” re-make. It might possibly ruin your day. Or life. Depending on how fragile you are.

I had to do it for professional reasons, but my life feels good and ruined already – so it’s OK.