One of the best ways to learn the culture and customs of a country is through the movies it produces. You can get familiar with the language, the way the people dress, the food they have daily, and so on. All this while, the world is mostly familiar with only Hollywood movies and the American culture although not a little of them depict civilizations and ways of life of another countries brilliantly. But, still, when it’s not genuine it’s not real yet. The same thing applies with Russia. You might have seen some of these American movies about Russia dubbed as the best films about the country like; Anna Karenina (2012), The Way Back (2010), War & Peace (2016), The Death of Stalin (2017), and Gorky Park (1983). Or, perhaps, you are more familiar with Russian actors and actresses who have made their ways to the international stage like; Irina Shayk and Yul Brynner.
It is highly unlikely that the movies produced in Russia by the Russians will be shown in regular movie theaters around the world. They would usually make appearances when there are events like film festivals or Russian cultural week sort of thing. But, of course, it is always possible to access authentic Russian movies anytime you feel like it, thanks to the internet. They are not too difficult to find, either. Now, if you wonder which Russian movies you should watch first, here are 6 of our recommendations of the titles that will change your day!
The film was nominated for a lot of international prestigious awards and won many of them including at the 72nd Golden Globe Awards for the Best Foreign Language Film category and at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival for the Best Screenplay. Leviathan is a crime and drama film that tells the story of Kolya, a Russian man who tries to fight the corrupt mayor of the coastal town he lives in from demolishing his house. When asking for a friend’s help to be his lawyer, Kolya gets only tragedy after tragedy that drag him and his family even further down to the bottom. Directed by Andrey Zvyagintsev, Leviathan is a movie that will give a jolt to the heart while opening the mind all at once.
Without Me – Bez Menya (2018)
This Russian melodrama is about two girls who were in love with the same man. After the death of their lover, the both of them kept getting mysterious messages that could only be written by him. Curious, the two girls made a deal to go on a journey together based on the letters to find out what was actually going on with the man they once loved. Directed by Kirill Pletnev, Without Me has been screened around the world at film festivals and received good appreciations by movie lovers.
The Humorist – Yumorist (2019)
If you want to get deeper with what the Russians had to put through during the Soviet Union time, then this is the right movie for you. Boris Arkadiev is a fictional stand-up comedian who gets depressed by all the government’s censorship over his sketches which shows an obvious opression. His limited and chained down creativity makes him insecure and depressed that he becomes toxic to his friends and personal relationships. The Humorist offers you a dark, psychological drama that will leave you with things to think of long after the movie ends. You should try and watch it.
The Postman’s White Nights – Belye Nochi Pochtalona Alekseya Tryapitsyna (2014)
This movie is a refreshing mixture of documentary and fiction works that is very natural that you will feel like watching the real daily life of Russian people and the country’s beautiful villages. This heartwarming movie is about Aleksey Tryapitsyna, a postman, who the Russians count on to connect them – especially the ones who live in remote places and away from civilizations – with friends and families through the most intimate way of communicating ever found: handwritten mails. One interesting fact about this movie directed by Andrey Konchalovsky is that Aleksey is not a fictional character. He is a real postman you can actually meet when you visit Russia one day.
How I Ended This Summer – Kak Ya Provol Etim Letom (2010)
So you’ve got drama, documentary, and crime. Now it’s time for thriller. Sergey and Pavel are assigned at the polar station in the middle of the Arctic Ocean on a remote island. It is almost time for them to be fetched to return to the mainland. But, everything gets messed up when Pavel – who is just an intern – receives a message he doesn’t handle correctly while Sergey – the supervisor – is absent. Soon they have to make a decision about who should stay alive between the two. This movie won the Best Film category at the London Film Festival and Silver Bear Award for Best Actor. A must watch!
Short Stories – Rasskazy (2012)
You might have expected a few stories in one by the sound of the title. Well, you are right. Four comedy stories with a string connecting them all as one. The story begins from an unpublished script of a book of short stories. People who happen to read the script, even though just a page, have their lives magically changed and melted into the stories they read. From absurd to funny, all four have surprising endings. A true face of modern Russian cinema, Short Stories will make you feel closer to the country’s actual daily life and how its people try to deal with their common problems.
Russian movies are definitely worth it to be watched. You might find some of them “borrow” the ideas from the Hollywood cinema, but a lot of them are actually fresh, new, and smart. If you still have that little box in your mind that makes you stereotype the Russians and think that maybe their films are boring, try watching the 6 recommended movies above to change your mind in a flip.