Kak ya provel etim letom (How I Ended This Summer)

Poster for Kak ya provel etim letom (How I Ended This Summer)

Autumn 2012 Features series

Sunday, September 30, 2012 at 4:00pm
Sunday, September 30, 2012 at 7:00pm

Acadia Cinema's Al Whittle Theatre
450 Main Street, Wolfville, NS

Directed by Aleksey Popogrebskiy

Screenplay by Aleksey Popogrebskiy

Starring Grigoriy Dobrygin, Sergey Puskepalis, and Igor Chernevich

Rated NR · 2h 10m

View trailer

Kak ya provel etim letom (How I Ended This Summer)
Russian director Aleksey Popogrebskiy’s brings us a drama adventure that unfolds at a polar station on a desolate island in the Arctic Ocean. Sergei Gulybin (Sergey Puskepalis), a seasoned meteorologist, and Pavel Danilov (Grigoriy Dobrygin), a recent college graduate, are spending months in complete isolation on the once strategic research base. Pavel receives an important radio message. He is still trying to find the right moment to convey the message to Sergei when fear, lies and suspicions start poisoning the atmosphere…

On the simplest level this Russian film, which won its stars, Grigory Dobrygin and Sergei Puskepalis, best actor awards at the 2010 Berlin International Film Festival, is a suspenseful man-braving-the-elements adventure movie in which every excursion beyond the shabby cabin where the men live and work is fraught with physical peril. Communications to the central station (to which they transmit climatological data via two-way radio) are carried on through a haze of static. That station is their lifeline to the outside world.

But How I Ended This Summer is also a psychological thriller in which their mutual distrust deteriorates into a potentially deadly game of cat and mouse. Sergei Gulybin, a taciturn, bearish man in his 50s with years of experience on the job, and Pavel Danilov, a recent college graduate hired as his summer assistant, metaphorically represent the old Russia and the new.

In the old Russia you stoically do as you are told to the best of your abilities; in the new, disobedience, shirking and petulance have replaced an unquestioned devotion to duty.

In Pavel Kostomarov’s cinematography, which won an award for outstanding artistic achievement at the Berlin festival, the camera repeatedly pulls back to observe the characters from afar and evoke the crushing metaphysical weight of this empty landscape on the humans inching along in the distance. You can feel how the barrenness, along with the incessant low roar of wind and waves, punctuated by the plaintive mewing of the gulls, can slowly drive people mad.

“Above all How I Ended This Summer is a merciless contemplation of the fragile human psyche under siege. Engulfed by a vast unknown, without the protective distractions of civilization, you have only your insecure, frightened inner voice to guide you. This ultimate measure of one’s mettle is a test that many of us would probably fail.” (Stephen Holden, The New York Times)