The film followed the lives of a group of homeless young people in the city of Perm, beginning in Winter and ending in Summer, though it was difficult to see exactly what period it was since footage from different visits had been edited together. They sniffed glue, they injected drugs, the girls turned tricks at 500R a time, Denis begged in the market…They also laughed and joked and hung out, while Kolya got to visit his family’s dacha, have lunch in the sunshine and swim in a lake.,
My own feeling was that if it had been done more competently it would have been unbearably moving, and even as it was there were many opportunities for tears. My heart went out to the young women Irina and Ksusha because you could see what they would have been like–should have been like–in different circumstances. Scenes like Irina going to see her mother in the hostel where she lived with her present ‘boyfriend’ and the mother shouting at her to go away, or Ksusha’s pregnancy test where she clearly had not the slightest resource if it proved positive–apart from a determination not to have an abortion–will be very difficult to forget.
There was a certain amount of the film telling you what to what to think, both in the titles at the beginning giving some over-simplified background information and in the music. Also it was another of those situations where I knew a great deal more about the subject-matter (drug use and its effects; children in need; Russia) than the film-makers did, which as ever led to discomfort. The shocking revelation at the end merely caused me a momentary spasm of fucking drug users.
The film was enthusiastically received by a large and predominantly young audience. Nicolas Doldinger (co-director) said that they had wanted to make a film that dealt with an ugly situation in a beautiful and engaging way. In answer to a question about whether the young people had been paid, Jake Mobbs (the other co-director) said that they had brought them bread and mayonnaise and lent them a mobile for emergency calls. They didn’t actually know what their interviews were about until they took the film home and scraped together some money for translation. The fact that the only rehab available was run by Evangelicals gave rise to a facile comment about this being merely a different form of addiction. Jake Mobbs said there were plans to show the film in Perm, though there might be difficulties with the authorities.
So I’m left feeling a helpless horror that there should be such lives, and also that the film should have been better to do them justice.
The charity Love’s Bridge works with street youth and at-risk children in Perm.