Archive of films A Place on Earth / Mesto na zemlje

2001, 126 min

Section: East of the West
Year: 2001


Artur Aristakisian set out with his camera to record Moscow’s disinherited, opponents of the system, seeking the philosophical justification for and practical fulfilment of their beliefs. He spent 1995-96 with a hippie community documenting the inhabitant’s ideological reversals, moral dilemmas, spiritual crises and disillusionment. The total isolation of this bizarre community of men and women, children and animal, beggars and cripples is only disturbed by police raids and attacks by various assailants. But their fanatical faith in the attainability of absolute freedom through free love becomes unbearable for some individuals, including their main ideologist. The filmmaker depicts the shattered reality of the deepest human decline in all its starkest cruelty. At the same time, he gives all events a purely Russian spiritual dimension which resonates with the poetry and moral pathos of an evangelical message.

About the director

Artur Aristakisian (b. 1961, Kishiniev) started making an amateur film about beggars in his hometown and finished it while studying at Moscow’s Film School (VGIK). The result was Palms (Ladoni, 1993), his graduation-debut film, astounding for the extent to which it identifies with the psychology and world of its protagonists. In 1994, the exceptional ethical and aesthetic value of Aristakisian’s debut was recognised with awards at many festivals, and at home he received a Nika for Best Documentary. The director’s notion, that even the poorest of the poor are happy because they live outside the system and are therefore free, is employed in A Place on Earth too, a film shot under amateur conditions using an improvisational method. Like in Palms, the monological text, music and sophisticated sound work to particularise and empower the filmmaker’s message.

About the film

Color, 35 mm

Section: East of the West
Director: Artur Aristakisian
Screenplay: Artur Aristakisian, Irina Shubina
Dir. of Photography: Grigorij Jablochnikov/Grigory Yablochnikov
Music: Robert Wyatt
Editor: Natalie Topková/Nataliya Topkova
Producer: Boris Ajrapetijan/Boris Ajrapetyan
Production: ABA Studio, Ministry of Culture of Russia
Cast: Anna Verdi, Vitaly Khaev, Roman Atlasov

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