Sergey Kachkin: Perm-36. Reflexion

I am writing this text to support a filmmaker in trouble – Russian Sergey Kachkin, who, in these days, 25 years after the fall of USSR, experiences problems in getting his new film, that he has been working on for five years, screened in his own country. It has been rejected for political reasons, linked to Soviet times and Russia today. In an email to me, who has followed the film since it was pitched at the Baltic Sea Forum in 2011, Kachkin, who is born in Perm, where the film takes place, writes:

“In Perm, I was told that it can not be shown at the International Documentary Film Festival Flahertiana because the film criticises the local Ministry of Culture and because of this subject in general. It hasn’t been selected for Message to Man Film Festival in Saint Petersburg either and I suspect because of the same reasons – criticism of Stalinism, Soviet times and mostly new reality which is directly connected with the past.”

About the content of the film for you to better understand, text taken from the website, link below:

“Three former political prisoners tell the story of their imprisonment in the “Perm-36” prison camp. Years later they return to the camp (now a museum) to participate in the “Pilorama” Forum, a campsite reflecting, mirror-like, Russian society haunted by phantom pains after the fall of the Soviet Union. Red-brown activists zealously rail against the existence of the museum and the forum. They start to gain attention in society and the government. As a result, dark clouds gather over the museum… The three are the worker Viktor Pestov, convicted for anti-soviet activity; the literary scholar Mikhail Meylakh sentenced for the custody of forbidden literature in Soviet times (Nabokov, Mandelshtam, Solzhenitsyn); the human rights activist Sergei Kovalev for working on a weekly publication on Human Rights in the Soviet Union, each recall the story of their arrest and imprisonment in the “Perm-36” prison camp…”

Dark clouds over the museum – the director is replaced, the museum is re-arranged so the terrors of Stalinism is almost not talked about, it has become, as someone has put it, ”an exhibition on the architecture of the camps” – and the Pilorama has been stopped.

Of course it is a sign of weakness that the Flahertiana festival in Perm does not dare to show a film that takes place close to the location of the museum and the Pilorama. If they – the same goes for the Message to Man festival in Saint Petersburg that this year takes the risk to show the controversial Vitaly Mansky’s North Korean ”Under the Sun” – don’t like the film, they could show it out of competition. Kachkin is not Mansky, and his film is maybe not an authored piece of art, but it is a very actual document with a – as an example – wonderful 20 minutes long part with Mikhail Meylakh, that is both a meeting with a charismatic Russian intellectual and through him a tribute to Brodsky, Anna Akhmatova, Osip Mandelstam and Solzjenitsyn. To literature.

Kachkin is now trying hard to get his film into festivals in Europe. Help him!  

http://perm36reflexion.ru/en/film

Russia, 2016, 100 mins. 

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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.

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