Duration 98 minutes, 16+
Director: Dmitry Fedorov
Scriptwriter: Lev Ryzhkov
Director of photography: Jan Voronovsky
Production Designer: Sofia Sladkova
Composer: Nikolay (Kolyas) Zhigulin
Producers: Alexey Arkhipov, Vadim Bogdanov
Production: UNITED FILM MAKING GROUP
Starring: Ivan Fedotov, Olga Starchenkova, Anatoly Goryachev,
Alexander Vorobev, Pavel Sborschikov, Vitaly Abdulov, Mikhail Krylov,
Elena Voronchikhina, Anna Guliarenko, Natalya Platonova,
Alexander Ablyazov, Irina Gavra, Denis Yakovlev, Sergey (Pakhom) Pakhomov
A constant lack of money, dilapidated housing and a mustachioed bitchy girlfriend — so goes the life of a handyman Leha in the small provincial town of Uletnoye. He’s put up with everything for a long time and just goes with the flow.
Everything changes when a person from the capital appears in the city. At any cost, he wants to rent the ruined apartment of a deceased bum poet, who wrote crazy poems about the fact that Moscow does not happen.
Meanwhile, Leha meets a girl, Masha. In her camera,he discovers pictures of himself – from 4 days ago. However, for some reason he remembers neither the pictures nor Masha. Tickets to Moscow are never available at the station ticket office, the guest from the capital is not who he claims he is, and the provincial city is not exactly provincial and not even quite a city.
The Russian premiere of the film «Moscow does not happen» took place on October 3, 2020 as part of the program «Spectre» of the 42nd Moscow International Film Festival. «The Spectrum program is designed to expand — geopolitically, aesthetically, genre — the boundaries of the cinematic «spectrum» that emerges throughout the current film season.» 21 films from 17 countries were selected for the Spectrum program. The Russian cinematography was presented by the film «Moscow does not happen.»
Excerpts from media publications about the last premiere
«A stunning film at the junction of «black comedy», phantasmagoria and allegory so free and all-encompassing that it seems to accommodate all today’s spiritual chaos of ours, also leaving room for imagination and associations.
This is one of those smartly conceived stories which then overgrow with dashing improvised details, paradoxes and artistic adventures. Do not expect harmony and logic! They tear your emotional strings, and their riddle will intrigue you and will not let go from start to finish. The viewer is rocked by the bumps of the mysterious plot. Sometimes you want to swear at what at first looks like excess and congestion, and then seamlessly fits its semantic niche.
Closer to the finale, everything turns into cardboard — almost gonzo — fiction. And the pathetic roar of «The Swan Lake» will leave no doubt that we are witnesses, participants and victims of the recurrent historical cataclysm — an imprint from our troubled days.
The film excites and pricks, makes laugh and touches, irritates and pushes into despair but catches its deep truth, ill-understood by us, the truth that is called revelation.
Fedorov’s is only seemingly clumsy. In fact it represents a plaster cast of our stupidly hopping world, gripped by the pandemic of total absurdity — a cast mercilessly accurate, like in Pompeii.»
«Rossiyskaya Gazeta» newspaper / «News from Pompeii. Films «Blockade Diary» and «Moscow Does Not Happen» were shown at the Moscow International Film Festival» 03.10.2020
«The odyssey into nothingness turns into a fantastic parable about time “now»: «Stalls are closing, someone’s plans are burning out «. A discerning landscape of today’s reality with iron quarantine curtains. Time in the absurd dramedy of Dmitry Fedorov like a mad counter spins wildly back and forth. The film, shot by independent authors, has the intonation of a 90s cinema — rough, sometimes amateur, lively, free. This is a movie of reflections with a painful search for a cultural code. But to an even greater extent the nerve of the film is in the music of «Grazhdanskaya oborona» (Civil Defense): “I think: «Eternity» and you think:»Death».
«Novaya Gazeta» newspaper / «Moscow does not happen in bitter Russia» 09.10.2020
42-th Moscow International Film Festival became almost a continuation of the Kinotavr festival where one week is enough to see all most significant Russian films, shot in a given year. Dmitry Fedorov’s «Moscow does not happen» – an eccentric absurdist comedy with elements of farce — stood out at the MIFF. Everything in this film is excessive — it’s too funny, it’s too annoying, it’s all too artsy, and then suddenly wildly similar to reality — and also too much. Provincial life, as shown in the film, sucks you in like a deadly swamp: wherever you may try to dart, you bounce back. Russian cinema is sorely lacking in smart comedies. Not a «Holop» (Slave) with its straightforward narrow-minded morality for the Sunday school pupils, but the element of the real laugh through which invisible tears pour. That’s why «Moscow does not happen» is a very important and necessary precedent.»
RFI (Group France Medias Monde) / «To Moscow! To Moscow» which does not happen. Russian films at the Moscow Festival.» 11.10.2020
«The most unexpected surprise of the 42nd Moscow International Film Festival in October occurred at the «Spectrum» program. Dmitry Fyodorov’s folk science fiction comedy «Moscow Does Not Happen” became the main premiere.
Newspaper «KULTURA» / Interview with the film director Dmitry Fedorov 23.10.2020
A participant of the program «Spectre», Dmitry Fedorov’s film «Moscow does not happen» is an absurdist comedy which brings to mind the famous «The Truman Show», even though it is a purely Russian story produced by most independent creators. The plot about the impossibility to get out of the Russian province is not exactly new (the future «Berlin patient” most recently could not get out of Omsk), but it becomes even more relevant in the current circumstances when you can’t get out from anywhere and to anywhere.»
«Komsomolskaya Pravda» newspaper / «Russian Films at the Moscow Festival: From Nowhere to Nowhere» 04.10.2020
«Since the authors of the film did not have money for a long expedition to Murmansk, they filmed in the city of Balabanovo («Moscow does not happen» resonates with films of Alexey Balabanov) and Ermolino. They found these places by a blogger photo. Locals of Balabanovo were surprised that the film was shooting in Ermolino: they said it was a site of the global rift – you are not left to die but living is also impossible. The heroes of the film are trying to escape from their town. Everyone is running to the capital, but, as a film character says, «Moscow does not happen, Moscow used to be.» Try to buy a ticket there. The ticket office clerk at the station will answer: «There are no tickets to Moscow, and it doesn’t happen.»
«Moskovsky Komsomolets» newspaper / «At the Moscow International Film Festival five-story buildings have become a metaphor» 10/04/2020
«Moscow does not exist» is the result of the collaboration of director Dmitry Fedorov and a science fiction writer Lev Ryzhkov who combined two of his stories («Province» and «Poetry») into the script. Working on the film was long and difficult. As a result, «Moscow does not exist» reached the viewer precisely at the moment when the surrealism on the screen perfectly correlates with the chaos that prevails in the capital in reality. The action of the film and the language of the cinema are so exciting that you just can’t believe it was so difficult to produce.. »
INTERMEDIA.RU / «The Russian Ark outside all dimensions. Review of the film «Moscow does not happen» 09.10.2020
«Moscow doesn’t happen» is a fantastic absurd drama that came as part of the «Spectre» program of the 42nd Moscow International Film Festival this year. Traditionally, this section includes the most provocative films designed to «expand the boundaries of the cinematic spectrum.»
«Telenedelya» magazine / «The MIFF will show that Moscow does not happen» 03.10.2020
«MOSCOW DOES NOT HAPPEN» is a fantastic absurd dramedy. Its Russian premiere took place as part of the «Spectre» program of the 42nd Moscow International Film Festival. Traditionally, this section includes the most provocative films designed to «expand the boundaries of the cinematic spectrum.» «MOSCOW DOES NOT HAPPEN» — perfectly fits this criteria, as it develops a rare (for Russian media) genre of dramedy with elements of absurdity, while tackling extremely serious societal problems, especially relevant today. These are the confrontation between the little man and the authority, the elimination of those who disagree with the system, the detachment of Russia from the rest of the world.
Alexei Arkhipov, General Producer:
«It’s a film about the person’s right to choose, about the insolvable conflict between man and power, about the helplessness of the individual in front of the system and the ruthlessness and inhumanity of this system. As one of our heroes says,»if your daily task is just to get a piece of bread, then you do not need any other task — and you will live, and you will give birth to children without thought».
The film is set in the remote provincial town of Uletnoye, the name of which, by the way, is not at all accidental. As in most Russian provinces, everything here is run by a former crime boss, currently the city mayor nicknamed Tolyanych. Illegally picking up a ruined apartment of the deceased bum poet, Tolyanych hires the main character Leha and his comrade to repair it. All the wallpaper in the apartment is covered by strange verses that Moscow is a myth and it does not really exist. At first, this statement seems completely insane to Leha but everything changes when a man from the capital comes to Uletnoye. He is determined to rent the mad writer’s apartment with all his manuscripts. Meanwhile, the hero meets a girl, Masha. She has pictures of Leha from 4 days ago on her camera – while he somehow does not remember either pictures or Masha herself.
Dmitry Fedorov, Director:
«We were looking for a city with a minimum of vegetation (we needed to show the strangeness of the city) but with typical Soviet structures. By chance, I came across a post of a blogger who travels to backwater areas in Russia. He has posted photos of typical 1970s houses but with some strange ornaments. It turned out that this ornament is typical for all houses in the Kaluga region. Specifically, his pictures were from the city of Balabanovo, about 150 km from Moscow. And I thought, we should go there».
As a result, a town of Ermolino, 8 km from Balabanovo, became the main location for filming. It turned out to be less habitable and more cinematic for this project. This township with a once successful and now closed weaving factory and a strange statue of a woman in the center of the city perfectly reflected the mood of decadence and devastation of Uletnoye. Locals also perfectly fitted the image of dwellers of Uletnoye, so extras in the film are real people who do not act but just live this way.
Dmitry Fedorov, Director:
«We filmed dormitory scenes in a real dormitory, and there was everything — screams, fights… At first, they loved us with all their heart, and then they tried to fight us and to kick us out. It was very hard shooting, to be honest. But they live a completely natural provincial life, such as it is.»
The film’s main character is a classic «little man» — a handyman Leha. He lives in a crumbling apartment with a mustachioed mistress who constantly nags him for lack of money. He works for Tolyanych who does not pay him at all. On the one hand, somewhere deep in his heart Leha wants to change something, but on the other hand, his surroundings, continuous poverty and the inability to think of anything else other than his own survival, do not let him grow this inner desire.
Ivan Fedotov, Leha:
«This is a film about the freedom of choice, about whether a person, deprived of this freedom, can preserve and pass on to the next generations those spiritual values that distinguish him from the animal. Is it not this freedom that determines whether a person preserves his human face?»
The main character of the film, Masha, seems Leha’s opposite. She is active, brave0 and ready for an open conflict in order to get to the bottom of the truth. Meeting her, Leha gains the strength to do what he had not dared before, to stop going with the flow, to start taking action.
Olga Starchenkova, Masha:
«The first thing that attracted me to the script was the mystical absurdity of the situations in which main characters find themselves, the impossibility to get out of the township — from the swamp, where life has sucked them in. Masha is more of a risk taker than I am; she is an adventurer capable of run away without her possessions or preparation and suddenly rush to another city or country. It is her who initially pushes the main character to take action, to start changing his life — to thoughts about freedom of choice. After all, if there is no freedom of choice, the individual, the people and the whole country stagnate. And stagnation always leads to rotting and decay. We see these consequences of a total dictatorship in Uletnoye.»
The hero of Anatoly Goryachev, The Muscovite, is the most mysterious character of this story. He appears like a lightning bolt out of the blue – a restrained, neat, mysterious man. He does not fit realities of Uletnoye. And even the all-powerful Tolyanych, first acting cheeky toward The Muscovite, is a little afraid of him.
Anatoly Goryachev, Moskvich:
«I liked the script’s genre. I defined it for myself as fantastic realism with elements of horror and irony turning into a Gogol tragedy! It is powerful! It is sharp! It’s about us! I wish our film a successful distribution!»
Alexei Arkhipov, General Producer:
«At the heart of our film lies a very simple but very important idea. Every life is valuable and unique, even the most ridiculous and insignificant. And there are no such great goals for the sake of which you can drain human fates down the toilet generation after generation, driving people around like circus horses. We have tried to say it not through the drama and didacticism but through absurdity and even derision. I think the film has come out very funny and brash, slightly punch-drunk, whatever, but certainly not boring.»