Askold Kurov: Leninland

They have some verbal battles in the office, Natalya and Eugenia. They get on each other’s nerves. They both work at the museum, have done so for a long time, but where one is for the material side of the life (Natalya), the other (Eugenia) is heading for the spiritual values.

The scenes with the two are among the finest in a film that in an observational style catches the museum for Lenin, that was set up in 1987, had a great time in the beginning and now is trying to regain a visiting audience. Natalya does her best – are you filming Askold, she says to the director, she obviously sees the film as a chance to promote the museum – and shows us around in the rooms in Gorki, where Lenin died 90 years ago. Come and have an ”Soviet-era experience”, says Natalya, who brings school kids to the place where they pay respect to the great leader in finest pioneer style.

Otherwise, they take it easy at the museum, the rythm is slow, the stairs are cleaned as is the statue, but at the meetings of the board, the voices are raised, and a new director is brought in. Who cancels one plan for modernisation to bring in a Chinese opera show – and belly dance could maybe also bring more visitors. Alas! By the way, indicates the film, next to the museum a church is being built…

It would have been easy for Askold Kurov to make fun of the museum. He does not. He brings forward the institution, lets the viewer see it, meet the ones, who work there and let them take the floor. A fine choice.

Russia, 2013, 52 mins.

Share your love
Tue Steen Müller
Tue Steen Müller

Müller, Tue Steen
Documentary Consultant and Critic, DENMARK

Worked with documentary films for more than 20 years at the Danish Film Board, as press officer, festival representative and film consultant/commissioner. Co-founder of Balticum Film and TV Festival, Filmkontakt Nord, Documentary of the EU and EDN (European Documentary Network).
Awards: 2004 the Danish Roos Prize for his contribution to the Danish and European documentary culture. 2006 an award for promoting Portuguese documentaries. 2014 he received the EDN Award “for an outstanding contribution to the development of the European documentary culture”. 2016 The Cross of the Knight of the Order for Merits to Lithuania. 2019 a Big Stamp at the 15th edition of ZagrebDox. 2021 receipt of the highest state decoration, Order of the Three Stars, Fourth Class, for the significant contribution to the development and promotion of Latvian documentary cinema outside Latvia. In 2022 he received an honorary award at DocsBarcelona’s 25th edition having served as organizer and programmer since the start of the festival.
From 1996 until 2005 he was the first director of EDN (European Documentary Network). From 2006 a freelance consultant and teacher in workshops like Ex Oriente, DocsBarcelona, Archidoc, Documentary Campus, Storydoc, Baltic Sea Forum, Black Sea DocStories, Caucadoc, CinéDOC Tbilisi, Docudays Kiev, Dealing With the Past Sarajevo FF as well as programme consultant for the festivals Magnificent7 in Belgrade, DOCSBarcelona, Verzio Budapest, Message2Man in St. Petersburg and DOKLeipzig. Teaches at the Zelig Documentary School in Bolzano Italy.

Articles: 3876