Aleksei Balabanov, ‘Best Russian film director of the past two decades’ Dies at 54

cargo 200We were sorry to learn of the untimely death of Aleksei Balabanov, director of Cargo 200, one of Disinformation’s rare forays into foreign film distribution. His obituary from the New York Times in relevant part:

…In 16 films, Mr. Balabanov offered a world of hit men, shamelessly corrupt officials and corpses upon corpses in a cinematic pastiche reminiscent of the work of Quentin Tarantino in artistic achievement and exuberantly brash taste…

“The films of Aleksei Balabanov are a collective portrait of our country at its most dramatic time in history,” Prime Minister Dmitri A. Medvedev wrote on Facebook after the director’s death.

Mr. Balabanov’s movies developed a robust cult following in Russia and won prizes there. They were shown abroad in art houses and at film festivals…

Mikhail Trofimenkov, a film critic for the Russian newspaper Kommersant, called Mr. Balabanov “the best Russian film director of the past two decades.”…

The title of his 2007 film, Cargo 200, was taken from the Soviet Army code for bodies of slain Soviet soldiers. It unfolds in late 1984, during Russia’s war in Afghanistan, and conjures a political and moral landscape drowning in corruption and black-market vodka. A final scene shows the heroine naked and cuffed to a bed, surrounded by three fly-gathering corpses, one of them her fiancé.

Cargo 200 is a comment on the social decay that would lead to the Soviet Union’s fall. “Balabanov is by nature as an artist a radical conservative, a contradictory but extremely productive combination,” the Russian film critic Andrei Plakhov wrote. “It forces us to compare him to Dostoyevsky or John Ford, since for Balabanov what is important is not the social universe of discourse but the moral one.”…

[the whole obituary is in the New York Times]

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  • Tchoutoye

    I wouldn’t rate Balabanov above Sokurov and Zvyagintsev, but Cargo 200 and Of Freaks and Men are great films. R.I.P. Aleksei Oktyabrinovich.

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