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House With a Turret

During the final winter of WWII, as displaced persons return to their former homes in the Soviet Union, an 8-year-old boy is left alone when his mother dies en route.

Cast:
With: Dmitriy Kobetskoy, Katerina Golubeva, Mikhail Veksler, Vitalina Bibliv, Mariya Politseymako, Albert Filozov. (Russian dialogue)

During the final winter of WWII, as displaced persons return to their former homes in the Soviet Union, an 8-year-old boy is left alone when his mother (Katerina Golubeva) dies en route in the bitter tragedy “House With a Turret.” The second feature by Ukrainian helmer-writer Eva Neymann to be based on a work by novelist Friedrich Gorenstein (screenwriter of “Solaris”), this black-and-white pic is mesmerizingly lensed in old-school Soviet style, with hauntingly beautiful, formal compositions. Although unfolding slowly, the minimalist narrative accumulates power. Pic won Karlovy Vary’s East of the West kudos; further fest play beckons.

As the unnamed boy (solemn Dmitriy Kobetskoy, a non-pro from an orphanage) tries to fend for himself, most of the hungry, war-weary adults who tower over him barely spare a kind word, much less a helping hand. Finally aboard a crowded train, he suffers heartrending emotional abuse and robbery. The tranquil beauty of the snow-covered landscapes glimpsed from the window contrast with the increasingly grotesque visual motifs of displacement and chaos inside. Pic marks the last screen appearance of Russia-born, Paris-based thesp Golubeva (“Pola X”), who died a few months after shooting.

House With a Turret

Ukraine

Production: A 1 + 1 production. (International sales: TV Broadcasting Co. "Studio 1 + 1," Kiev.) Produced by Aleksander Tkachenko. Executive producer, Stanislav Zurahov. Creative producer, Natalia Stribuk. Directed, written by Eva Neymann, based on the novella "House With a Turret" by Friedrich Gorenstein.

Crew: Camera (B&W), Rimvydas Leipus; editor, Pavel Zalesov; music, Jurgen Groziner, Erik Satie; production designer, Gennady Popov; costume designer, Ruslan Khvastov. Reviewed at Karlovy Vary Film Festival (East of the West), July 7, 2012. (Also in Shanghai Film Festival, competing.) Running time: 80 MIN.

With: With: Dmitriy Kobetskoy, Katerina Golubeva, Mikhail Veksler, Vitalina Bibliv, Mariya Politseymako, Albert Filozov. (Russian dialogue)

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