"If there is going to be such a thing as a New Russian Cinema, then [Roads to Koktebel] provides a decisive direction." So wrote critic Henry Sheehan in August 2003, reviewing the debut feature from Boris Khlebnikov and Aleksei Popogrebsky, who shared writing and directing credits. The film followed a father and pre-teen son as they journeyed across Russia in search of a better life, encountering a variety of scenic landscapes and colorful characters representing the many changes that had taken place in the country. Koktebel was a favorite of festival programmers, playing at more than a dozen all over the globe and gaining a theatrical release in parts of Europe and South America. On his own, Khlebnikov went on to make Free Floating, a "melodrama with elements of comedy" that was released in Russia last year, was featured at the Venice film festival and more recently played at fests in Rotterdam and Portland.

Now Popogrebsky has completed his second feature, Simple Things. Writing for The Moscow Times,Tom Birchenough praised the director for his restraint and commented: "On the surface, the developments of its plot concern the everyday events of a few days in the life of a St. Petersburg doctor. But beneath that surface, it's the dramas of family life, and matters as profound as life and death, that speak strongly -- if not loudly -- in the film." Sergei Puskepalis (with only one other credit on IMDb) stars as the doctor, who has pressing domestic, financial and romantic issues, and then must deal with a cantankerous old actor (Leonid Bronevoi) facing the painful end of his life. Roads to Koktebel is scheduled to be released on DVD by Film Movement on August 7, 2007; we'll hope that Free Floating and Simple Things cross the Atlantic sooner rather than later.
categories Cinematical