As Russians we love the phenomena of 'storm in a glass'. These so called short time periods of acute drama and apocalypsis give generations, raised by compulsory intake of Onegin, Tosca and Lermontov's demons, much needed adrenalin.
'Storm in a glance' is a very Russian addiction, if you like. It makes us prove to ourselves that we are alive and kicking, that we can distract ourselves from the much hated reality and 'finally to start living'. Taisia Igumentseva's UK premiere of Bite the Dust is not just a film about apocalyptic obsessions, it's a psychologic profile and an anthropologic view of Russians not only today, but universally as a nation.
Bite the Dust, which opened the 10 day long 7th Russian Film Festival in London on 7 November, coincided with the day remembered as the Coup d'Etat when Bolsheviks took power over Tsarist Russia. A symbolic day to open the festival.
The plot of Bite The Dust is set in a village of five houses (give or take) with instantly recognisable characters as inhabitants. The men are misunderstood inventors, scientific geniuses and emotional wrecks who drink themselves to suppress their talents. The women are the strongest characters that mother Earth has ever created, born to make their life as difficult as possible to prove to themselves and others the superhuman nature of the woman's DNA. And God they succeed.
The dangerous comet that is about to kill 90% of humanity lands a perfect opportunity for that small version of one of the biggest countries in the world, to moan a bit, prepare to party (a lot), eat a bit, drink (a lot) and pause to accept their faith and die. Only that the cataclysm resolves itself and the opportunity fades away, landing it's way back to reality. In this case, the eternal greyish survival of the rainy drizzle.
And characters duly oblige. Back to reality, with a humble determination. Always ready whether for fighting or bearing the unbearable, the Russian soul proves yet again that it can live through the toughest conditions, withstand the impossible.
Yet this story is different to most other Russian films of today. Rather than presenting the bleak reality in a pessimistic way, Bite The Dust offers a hint of a happy ending, an inspired mood, an optimistic, humorous view of ourselves. It's a pat on the back and a smirk to the future.
A brilliant film and a beginning of a new cinematic tradition.
The 7th Russian Film Festival runs until 17th November at the Empire Cinema Leicester Square. Full programme on russianfilms.org
This year also sees the Festival Jury with Daily Telegraph's Robbie Collin, Film4's Catherine Bray and others, chaired by director Jos Stelling, award the London Lion to the Best Russian film Director.