I know Antoine Cattin from his “The Mother» and other films he made with Pavel Kostomarov. I don’t know if the Swiss director still lives in St. Petersburg but the film that he presents at CPH:DOX takes place in the wonderful city. Here is the precise catalogue description of the festival:
”Russia is one of the countries in the world that celebrates the most public holidays. Across a selection of them, the lively and marvelously detailed ‘Holidays’ lets us in to the lives of ordinary people on the streets of the great, inscrutable country of the East about which we hear so much and know so little. All at an upbeat balalaika pace and with a liberating dose of black humour. We are in St Petersburg: Here we meet a poor Kazakh immigrant living in a room full of cockroaches and bedbugs. There is the tough, female head of municipal affairs who works her employees to the bone. There’s the xenophobic tram driver. And then there’s the young urban climber who climbs the city’s towers and roofs. Parts of the film are shot by the subjects themselves, and we are everywhere at once without a loss of detail or nuance. Antoine Cattan’s cinematic mosaic also tells of national divisions, xenophobia, class differences, religion, gender attitudes and the next war, which in Russia is always luring in the shadows.”
Yes, it is up and down Nevsky Prospekt – and it is up on the roofs and it is on the square of the Winter Palace, but it is also with Kazakhs in small komunalka appartments and in the office of the lady, who is taken around to check if the snow is removed and who sits with flowers and left-over pizza boxes talking about sex with a colleague on March 8, the women’s day. One of several gem scenes of a film that otherwise suffers from wanting to have too much, making me ”talk” to the film: Take it easy, let the scenes develop! Old age reaction, maybe.
Switzerland, 2022, 87 mins.