Archive of films The Gulls / Chaiki

2015, 87 min

Section: Another View
Year: 2015

Elza is a beautiful, unhappily married and, above all, very lonely woman. Unexpected events compel her to re-examine her life and take a step which will affect not only her future, but the destiny of others as well. A powerful, atmospheric tale of alienation and hope.


Life isn’t that great for the young and beautiful Elza. She can’t find fulfilment in the company of her boorish husband, nor in her work as a music teacher. Her discovery that she is pregnant only deepens her despair. Nevertheless, she doesn’t have sufficient courage to overcome her predicament – the traditional Buddhist society that shapes her life has taught her that the family has to come first. Her experience of unexpected loss seems to offer her a possible solution yet, above all, it shows her that solitude and alienation are a consequence of her own making. The cold and sorrow seeping into Elza’s heart are only intensified by the grey-white spectrum of winter landscapes in which most of the story is set. The director hauntingly contrasts the environment of her native Kalmyk region, known for its Buddhist beliefs and strongly patriarchal society, with the grim reality of modern life, where even time-honoured trades, such as fishing, have become vehicles for organised crime. And so the gulls – the souls of dead fishermen – circle above the wetlands in ever increasing numbers.

Kamila Dolotina

About the director

Ella Manzheeva (b. 1981, Elista, USSR) turned her attention to filmmaking after learning the violin. She studied sound direction at St Petersburg State University of Film and Television (2005) and then film direction at the Higher Courses for Scriptwriters and Directors in Moscow (2007). Her writer-director debut The Gulls (Chaiki, 2015), presented at this year’s Berlinale, sees her returning to her native Kalmyk region, where the long-standing inhabitants are Buddhists. In her film Manzheeva used her creative flair to convey the mystical atmosphere of this desolate place, the mysteries underlying the local culture and a society that comes up against the challenges of a new age.


ANTIPODE Sales & Distribution Ilc.
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About the film

Color, DCP

Section: Another View
Director: Ella Manzheeva
Screenplay: Ella Manzheeva
Dir. of Photography: Alexander Kuznetsov
Music: Anton Silayev
Editor: Sergey Ivanov
Art Director: Denis Bauer
Producer: Elena Glikman
Production: Telesto Film Company
Cast: Evgeniya Mandzhieva, Sergey Adianov, Evgeny Sangadzhiev
Sales: ANTIPODE Sales & Distribution Ilc.


Ella Manzheeva

Film Director

Natalia Arshavskaya

Distributor, TV Representative


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