Soviets Plus Electricity

One raw travelogue, "Soviets Plus Electricity" mixes found footage, flashes of black screen, French lingo crawls and audio ruminations from helmer Nicolas Rey (!) to document his trip from Paris to the far-flung, isolated Siberian port city of Magadan, built by gulag survivors on the Sea of Okhotsk.

One raw travelogue, “Soviets Plus Electricity” mixes found footage, flashes of black screen, French lingo crawls and audio ruminations from helmer Nicolas Rey (!) to document his trip from Paris to the far-flung, isolated Siberian port city of Magadan, built by gulag survivors on the Sea of Okhotsk. Resolutely experimental and thus, at three hours, a tough sit for even the most sympathetic auds, self-financed pic will play fests where such cinema of endurance is embraced, and could even have a shot at some tube exposure.

Three-parter follows helmer, armed with 16mm camera, poor quality tape recorder and castoff Soviet Super8 footage, on daunting journey. Auds learn that his ancestors were communists, and during pic, a strong link is established between more primitive aspects of contempo Russia and the raw poetry to be found in non-traditional avant garde film in general and this one in particular. Far better than actual viewing experience is helmer’s lucid, self-deprecating, whimsical fest program note, in which he explains if “the film is annoying and ’causes trouble,’ as they say, so much the better.” Pic copped Berlin’s FIPRESCI Forum prize, cited for a “simple and thus forceful narrative style.”

Soviets Plus Electricity

France

Production: A L'Abominable production. (International sales: Light Cone, Paris.) Directed, edited by Nicolas Rey.

Crew: Camera (color, 16mm), Rey; sound, Rey. Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (Forum of New Cinema), Feb. 8, 2002. Original French title: Les Soviets plus l'ectricite. French and Russian dialogue. Running time: 175 MIN.

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