Below the New: A Russian Chronicle 1999, Video (High-8 and 16mm original), 25min, b/w and color, sound.
Director, Editor, Camera: Abigail Child, Voices: Olessia Tourkina, Sergei Bugaev Co-sponsor: Banff Arts Centre, Canada
This video essay combines diary footage of St. Petersburg with archival material, accompanied by the voices of two young Russians who, through personal anecdote, describe the emotional, political, and economic transformations that have wrenched their society.
"Below the New: A Russian Chronicle (1999) continues in this realm as the filmmaker visualizes a country and a culture decimated by history. Unseen narrators describe the present state of Russia with its "disappeared middle class" and hopeless poverty and increasingly fractured dreams of a future. "You are living in an imaginary space," says one of the narrators, and Child conjures this space from her rabbit's hat of found footage and interviews, rendered less frenetically than in some of her earlier works but with equal intensity. Historical footage of Russian soldiers dancing in celebration to some victory and smiling schoolchildren at play coexist with brutal war imagery; scenes of citizens in rundown apartments; and, most eerily, an astronaut floating in the entropy of space far from culture or, it seems, meaning. "We have a collective amnesia now," says the narrator, but in this film, as in all her films, Abigail Child helps us remember. "
-Gary Morris, Bright Lights Film