The Film Club is a homage to cinema. Every month the team at The Calvert Journal selects a favourite Russian movie, from a classic of Soviet cinema or a groundbreaking documentary to the latest short by a new young director. Lights down please.
Filmmaker Alexandra Likhacheva made her entry into the Russian documentary world with Katya Krenalinova, a 27-minute mockumentary about a young homeless artist who has burned down her mother’s and stepfather’s house while they are both still in it.
The eponymous protagonist, played by an actress who is also called Katya Krenalinova, is on screen for almost all of the documentary, which switches back and forth between two scenes. In the first, the camera zooms in to show Krenalinova in close up as she reveals her motives during the police interrogation. In the second, we see her outside in the ice-cold air, walking through the rubble of the burned down house.
“I wanted to make a documentary about this girl, but then I came up with a form that would reveal and characterise her in the best way,” says Likhacheva. “This particular form also reflects my point of view on her. In my opinion Katya is a kind of contemporary hero. She is young and good-looking, but she has totally lost the values which could help her to deal with her life.”
Likhacheva describes her “portrait of a generation” as a mockumentary that pushes the boundaries of Russian documentary, which remains fixed on serious, objective representations. The realistic style of filming, coupled with the lack of remorse expressed by Krenalinova, shocked some viewers who failed to realise it was fiction. After being inundated with angry letters and comments, lead actress Katya Krenalinova distanced herself from the project.
The film was screened at the prestigious International Documentary Film Festival in Amsterdam, as well as in Toronto, Madrid and Helsinki. It also won a special prize at the Message to Man Festival in St Petersburg in 2011 and best film at the VGIK International Fesitval of Student Cinema.