Born in 1959 in Sverdlovsk, Aleksei Balabanov has been a leading figure in Russian experimental cinema. He has written and directed films based on the works of Daniil Kharms and Franz Kafka, and directed the 1995 "cinealmanach" Arrival of a Train marking the 100-year anniversary of world cinema. His awards include prizes from the Kinotavr (Sochi) Film Festival and the NIKA.
Balabanov's low-budget film about the exploits of a young discharged soldier in contemporary St. Petersburg became the blockbuster of the year. Danila Bagrov returns home from a humiliating war and struggles to find his place in society. He travels to St. Petersburg, where his brother has apparently made a successful life for himself. His brother's new profession draws Danila into a life of brutality and violence that seems to leave his soul strangely untouched.
While possessing all the formal marks of a typical criminal drama, the film captures the anxiety of a nation that has lost not only a war, but its identity as well. As portrayed by Sergei Bodrov Jr., a contract killer with a heart of gold becomes a disturbing new "positive hero" for a new Russia in which ideas of nationality, morality, honor, and family are reevaluated and reconfigured.
Running time: 96 min. Russia. Color.
Production: STV (Russia)
Director: Aleksei Balabanov
Script: Aleksei Balabanov
Camera: Sergei Astakhov
Designers: Vladimir Kartashov, Nadezhda Vasil'eva (costumes)
Producer: Sergei Sel'ianov
Cast: Sergei Bodrov Jr., Svetlana Pis'michenko, Viktor Sukhorukov, Mariia Zhukova, Sergei Murzin, Iurii Kuznetsov, Viacheslav Butusov
Aleksei Balabanov was born in Sverdlovsk on February 25, 1959. He made his directorial debut in 1989 with the documentary Egor and Nastia. His first feature film, Happy Days, was released in 1992 and won instant fame across Europe. Since then, he has directed seven films and is reportedly working on an eigth, the title of which is rumored to be The American. In recent articles on the director he is disparagingly labeled a Russian nationalist whose films have become increasingly anti-Western (read: anti-American). However, he is also championed as one of the best contemporary Russian directors whose films range from blockbuster hits to arthouse sensations. Balabanov presently works at STW Film Company in St. Petersburg, which he helped found in 1994 with producer Sergei Sel'ianov.
|1995||Trofim from The Arrival of a Train|
|1998||Of Freaks and Men|
Dondurei, Daniil. "Ne brat ia tebe, gnida..." Iskusstvo kino 2 (1998)
Mantsov, I. "Strogii iunosha." Iskusstvo kino 2 (1998)