original title: Prizrachno-beliy
2022, 96 min., color, Russian-German
CATEGORY : Drama
COUNTRIES: Russia, Germany, Israel
Georgiy Bergal, Andrey Krivenok, Klavdia Korshunova, Nadezhda Lertulo
Cinematographer : Anton Gromov
Producers : Konstantin Fam, Egor Odintsov
FESTIVALS: International Film Festival Rotterdam 2022 (Tiger Competition)
Director’s Statement: No matter how hard I try, I cannot look at the Catastrophe directly, find an access to it. I can only look at its Images, its Witnesses. But how do I break through to the Catastrophe itself? I am looking at it through other people’s eyes. I am working with conjectures. The Catastrophe inhabits the unstable terrain of the imagination, the same one where dreams live.
When I was reading “Our People” by Rūta Vanagaitė, I was especially astounded by the journals of the murderers sentenced to death. While awaiting execution, they were taking notes, writing down their dreams. They dream about a louse in the hair, they see a naked woman, they see a failed attempt to shoot a person, they dream about a stream, a forest, a sand beach. Those dreams are trivial and monumental simultaneously. They contain experiences that are ultra-subjective, but are also collective.
I used some of those recorded dreams in the film.
One could say, that Achrome is a dream about war.
Achrome is an anti-war parable about a man and his vulnerability in the face of history.
Maris, the film’s protagonist, is the village idiot, brought up by his older brother. Following his brother, Maris leaves their peaceful village and joins the military. It is as if he enters a different world, the world of war. Crimes in that world are committed in silence. Even though Maris encounters their consequences every day, he can never discern the moment of the crime itself. He cannot fully become a Witness. Maris finds himself as if behind the scenes of a war, where everything is quiet and sleepy. As if in a dream, the soldiers kill during the day, and rob the living and the dead at night. They feast and live as if in a dream.
Amid this delusion, in the basement of a prison cell, Maris meets Leah, a young woman sentenced to death.
Through her eyes, he is able to see himself. For Leah, and for all who will find his name in the archives in the future, Maris will remain a murderer, no matter whether he killed or not. All his features will be erased, all save one — his guilt. But surely, there must be a way to separate oneself from the archive? To get yourself back?
“We are really looking for ways to talk about the past. These topics are taboo in the former Soviet Union, so as a film director I was looking for a language with which to talk about this topic,” Russian director Ignatenko said. “The question of forgiveness and the ability to forgive touches me deeply. It is an underlying condition of human beings, and it is very related to the ability to ask for forgiveness.” – Alina Trabattoni, Screendaily
Focusing on the Nazi occupation of the Baltic states in “Achrome,” as well as two brothers who decide to leave their village and join the Wehrmacht, Ignatenko was loosely inspired by the works of Lithuanian author Rūta Vanagaitė. Her controversial book “Our People: Travels with the Enemy” triggered a national discussion about the Holocaust. “The main challenge was to figure out how to talk about the past. Find that new language, which the book was trying to do as well,” says Ignatenko, who also turned to other acclaimed writers for help. “One could say that this film is divided into two parts: there is reality, which we all recognize, and then there is what we see when we fall asleep. They intertwine. That’s why I thought of Paul Celan’s poetry.” – Marta Balaga, Variety