Hope vanished Oct. 2 of finding Russian actor-director Sergei Bodrov Jr. and much of his 46-person crew when the Russian Emergencies Ministry reported no more survivors were being found at the site of the Sept. 20 avalanche that struck Bodrov’s filming location in the Caucasus.
With Bodrov’s death presumed, Russia’s film industry is appraising and honoring the memory of the 30-year-old cult actor and director whose career over the last decade was as brilliant as any of his contemporaries — and all the more remarkable given that he approached his profession with no formal training in it.
Moscow native, however, was born into a film family — his father, also Sergei, a director who began his career in the 1970s, was one of the few helmers who proved they could work in the international industry after perestroika.
Bodrov Jr. initially studied to be an art historian. Though he played two smaller screen roles at the beginning of the 1990s, he burst onto the scene with the Caucasus-set “Prisoner of the Mountains” (1996), directed by his father and nominated for the foreign-language Oscar in 1997. Though that film earned wide international festival acclaim, it was his role the following year, as Danila Bagrov in Alexei Balabanov’s “Brother,” that brought him huge local popularity. Bodrov’s disillusioned, ironic hero, struggling to maintain his individuality and integrity in a world of crime and corruption, made him into a national icon, typifying for many the mood of his generation.
With a financially more successful, but less critically acclaimed, sequel coming in 2000, he cemented his cooperation with the pioneering St. Petersburg production company CTV, which went on to support Bodrov’s first film as a director, “Sisters” (2001). It was also backing “The Messenger,” on which Bodrov had just begun shooting when the tragedy occurred.
Among Bodrov’s other roles were in his father’s “The Bear’s Kiss” (2002) and “The Quickie” (2001), and Alexei Balabanov’s “War” (2002), which was again set in the Caucasus. His work for foreign directors included Regis Wargnier’s “East-West” (1999) and Pavel Pavlikovsky’s “The Stringer” (1997).
Although he admitted that it was very much a secondary interest, Bodrov also worked successfully in television. Though early experience co-presenting a national talkshow proved less satisfying, last year saw Bodrov host the local “Survivor” format, titled “Last Hero”.
Bodrov is survived by his wife and two young children.