New Internationalist

Koktebel

January 2005

directed by Boris Khlebnikov and Alexei Popogrebsky

A man and his son tramp through the autumn countryside with little or no money. The son is eager to press on to a new life. The man, unsure, seems content to take his time. They’re walking from Moscow to Koktebel in the Crimea, where the man was once based at an aerodrome, and where his sister now lives. They sleep rough, scrump apples, look for work. A railway worker offers them a room for the night and food. A suspicious old man lets them stay, to replace his roof.

This is a benevolent, gently paced, simply plotted road movie. The damp landscape is particular, but their separate, overlapping journeys are universal and personal. The camera shows us what they see and how they feel – when drowning in torrential rain, or contemplating a hovering bird, a symbol of the journey’s end. Koktebel is a beautiful film, about love and independence, which resists sentimentality and any easy resolution.

Malcolm Lewis

Front cover of New Internationalist magazine, issue 375 This column was published in the January 2005 issue of New Internationalist. To read more, buy this issue or subscribe.

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