You, My Joy

“My Joy” is a tale of truck driver Georgi who leaves his hometown with his truck laden with goods, but when he is forced to take a wrong turn on the motorway, he finds himself stranded in the middle of nowhere. Georgi desperately tries to find his way out, but gradually, against his will, he becomes drawn into the daily life of a Russian village. In a place, where brutal force and the instinct to survive overcome humanity and common sense, the truck driver’s journey quickly heads towards a dead end.

My Joy (Schastye Moye)

A disturbingly outlandish fable that offers a harsh depiction of Russia’s rural hinterland, “My Joy” was the only debut feature to screen in competition at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, where it was a favorite of many film critics. Like a horror movie directed by Alain Resnais, Sergei Loznitsa’s narrative feature brims with unsavoury characters scrambling for survival in a remote Russian underworld.

While traveling through a region rife with reminders of Russia’s dark history, kind-hearted truck driver Georgy (Viktor Nemets) turns onto a dirt road to bypass a car crash – and to heed a warning that his original route is haunted. As a motley crew of lost souls and vagabonds cross his path – an elderly hitchhiker, a frighteningly young prostitute, a couple of not-so-stoic soldiers – “My Joy”’s startling narrative moves into increasingly bizarre territory.

Loznitsa draws from a pool of provincial anecdotes he collected over 13 years of documentary filmmaking (another quality he shares with Resnais, who also began as a documentarian), conjuring an unsettling vision of small-time Russia. However, it is not this director’s mischievous script that packs the greatest punch; it is his flair for the unexpected, his willingness to take the story in unconventional directions. This is buoyed by his ability to tie numerous narrative strands together, while always leaving them just a little, tantalizingly, loose.

Renowned cinematographer Oleg Mutu (who also shot the Festival favorites “The Death of Mister Lazarescu” and “4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days”) works with a grimly beautiful palette of black and blue. Don’t let the title fool you. “My Joy” is a dark descent into a world where thieves abound and impunity reigns. [Synopsis courtesy of Dimitri Eipides/Toronto International Film Festival]

The Event

In August 1991 a failed coup d’état attempt (known as Putsch) led by a group of hard-core communists in Moscow, ended the 70-year-long rule of the Soviets. The USSR collapsed soon after, and the tricolour of the sovereign Russian Federation flew over Kremlin. As president Gorbachev was detained by the coup leaders, state-run TV and radio channels, usurped by the putschists, broadcast Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake” instead of news bulletins, and crowds of protestors gathered around Moscow’s White House, preparing to defend the stronghold of democratic opposition led by Boris Yeltsin, in the city of Leningrad thousands of confused, scared, excited and desperate people poured into the streets to become a part of the event, which was supposed to change their destiny. A quarter of a century later, Sergei Loznitsa revisits the dramatic moments of August 1991 and casts an eye on the event which was hailed worldwide as the birth of “Russian democracy”.


MAIDAN chronicles the civil uprising against the regime of president Yanukovych that took place in Kiev (Ukraine) in the winter of 2013/14.
The film follows the progress of the revolution: from peaceful rallies, half a million strong, in the Maidan square, to the bloody street battles between protestors and riot police. MAIDAN is a portrait of an awakening nation, rediscovering its identity. [Synopsis courtesy of Cannes Film Festival]