Review: ‘Bread Day’

As effective in impact as it is simple in concept, documentary "Bread Day" uses the grizzled elderly inhabitants of an abandoned workers' settlement in northern Russia to make a devastating visual comment on the country as a whole. Sergei Dvortsevoy's hourlong film is a tragicomedy that would be surreal if it were not true. Already a prize winner at several East Euro fests, pic is well worth a look as a curiosity item, though may be too static for TV crossover.

As effective in impact as it is simple in concept, documentary “Bread Day” uses the grizzled elderly inhabitants of an abandoned workers’ settlement in northern Russia to make a devastating visual comment on the country as a whole. Sergei Dvortsevoy’s hourlong film is a tragicomedy that would be surreal if it were not true. Already a prize winner at several East Euro fests, pic is well worth a look as a curiosity item, though may be too static for TV crossover.

Filmers visited the dilapidated Township No. 3 on the one day every week when a train arrived bringing loaves of bread. At the junction, the conductor detaches a carriage and the old folks laboriously push it for miles over a rusty , snow-clogged rail to home sweet home. There a growling lady running the town store ungraciously exchanges the bread for their pensions. Pic’s student origins show in the drawn-out, real-time editing, which makes viewers suffer along with the wagon pushers. There’s also some facile cuteness with goats and dogs – apparently a reminder that the humans don’t have it much better than the animals.

Bread Day

(DOCU -- RUSSIA)

Production

A Higher Courses for Scriptwriters presentation of a Sergei Dvortsevoy production. (International sales: Jane Balfour Films, London.) Directed, written by Sergei Dvortsevoy. Camera (color), Alisher Khamidhkodjaev; editor, Dvortsevoy. Reviewed at Tromso Film Festival, Norway, Jan. 20, 2000. (Also in Karlovy Vary Film Festival.) Original title: Khlebny dyen. Running time: 58 MIN.
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