31st International Documentary Film Festival Munich
May 05 to 15, 2016
BEST.DOKS 20/20 (2005) 2005
  • Saturday
    Russian, English subtitles


The simple life of the Belov family as portrayed through the sparse black and white photography of Victor Kossakovsky . – Russland 1993 – Director: Viktor Kossakovsky – Original language: russian – Subtitles: english


"You shouldn't film us. We're just common people."

Anna Feodorovna Belova, twice a widow, lives in a small Russian village, together with her brother Michail Feodorovich in a place "where the river begins". Sometimes their two other brothers, Vasily and Sergei Feodorovich come to visit them along the dusty country road. On these occasions, they drink a lot of tea and take Russian steam baths. And when vodka warms their soul, they start holding forth on the miseries of life and debating philosophical questions like whether it is possible to measure emotional torment.

Daily life for the two aging siblings consists of milking cows, ploughing the fields, grubbing up potatoes, as the seasons pass and dogs with strange healing powers run around… It is the simple story of the tough but nonetheless real life of a family in rural Russia, of their joy and sorrow, their essentially human desperation, hatred and loneliness. Victor Kossakovsky spent several months with his protagonists before he started shooting. In sparse black and white pictures, the director of the 2002 DOK.Fest Munich winner Tishe! captures a stunningly true and surprisingly lighthearted portrait of a hopeless Russian existence which is timeless and universal.

"A MASTERPIECE... a real life Beckett play, set God knows where, about an old, ugly brother and sister suspended in a life of desperation, hatred, loneliness and derangement." (Lynne Truss, The Times)

"The Belovs are Russian, uniquely so, and yet they are universal in their joy, sorrow, frustrations as they grapple unequally with the sheer grinding hardship of life... [the film] marks Kossakovsky as a director of enormous skill." (Cork Examiner)

"An outstanding documentary. Russia will see itself in such a way as it has never been seen before in this genre." (Moscow News)

"Deceptively simple, the film touches upon a rich interplay of human and social issues with elegance and charm." (Edinburgh Film Festival 1994)

Awards: Golden Centaur, Critics' Prize and Ecumenical Prize, St. Petersburg 1993; International Jury Prize and Ecumenical Jury Prize, Nyon 1993; Joris Ivens Award, Amsterdam 1993; Audience Award, Leipzig 1993

    Sponsor von BEST.DOKS 20/20

English/Original Title: The Belovs. German title: Die Belovs. Camera: Leonid Konovalov, Viktor Kossakovsky. Sound: Galina Pocelueva. Editing: Viktor Kossakovsky. Production: Lendok Studios. Producer: n.n.. Length: 60 min. International Sales: Viktor Kossakovsky