on Vimeo.

The Man Who Surprised Everyone (2018)

Directed by Natasha Merkulova & Aleksei Chupov

Queer rights, shamanic sorcery, folk tales, and stark Siberian landscapes intertwine in this eclectic portrait of contemporary Russia.

When Yegor, a game warden from rural Siberia, is diagnosed with an incurable cancer, the stable life of his family is turned upside down. However, it is the way in which he chooses to battle his disease that turns out to, actually, surprise everyone. Inspired by a local myth about a drake who escapes death by pretending to be a duck, Yegor decides that he has to become a woman — at least for a while.

Not unlike the protagonist, the film itself conceals its main theme under a guise. The much-debated topic of queer rights in Russia surfaces from a dramatic life-or-death narrative enlivened with fantastic folk elements. Far from excessive, these layers create a ludicrous, vivid picture of contemporary life in rural Siberia, where MRI scanners coexist with shamanic medicine, and the vast forest gives shelter to those who protect it.

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