About the Film
Last winter Russians got tired with Putin's autocratic actions and went out into the streets to demand change. A hope for more righteous Russia has awakened, but the journey is a long one, and the weight of history exceptionally heavy. However, an idea for new Russia has been born, and continues to grow even at this very moment.
One of the people fighting for change is a Russian author and dissident Victor Erofeyev. He loves his country and wants it to be more tolerant and open-minded. For decades now, he has been criticising the people in charge of Russia. He has also been in trouble with the state since the Soviet times, but does not let the fear hold him back. With his work he wants to encourage the Russians to take a critical look around and try to actively improve their own situation. Now this is finally happening.
Russian Libertine brings the changes that shake the Russian society in front of our eyes and make them easier to understand. Victor's colourful story from a privileged child of a Soviet diplomat to a dissident who destroys his own family is full of surprises. It is a journey to today's Russia.
Victor Erofeyev (born 1947) is a Russian writer and dissident. For decades he has criticized the Soviet Union and then Russia, its people and leaders, as well as the political atmosphere. The origins of his Western thinking can be traced back to Paris where he grew up in the 50s; a child of parents who were Soviet diplomats at the time. A son of the privileged Soviet elite, he, however, chose a very different and rebellious path. In 1979 he wrote an article for an anthology titled Metropol; the article destroyed his parents' successful careers as diplomats. He himself was forbidden to publish anything for several years. People have tried to destroy his books and career by accusing him of animosity against Russia. Viktor has both a TV and a radio show in Russia. His best-known books (Russian Beauty, The Good Stalin and Encyclopaedia of the Russian Soul) have been translated into various languages, including Finnish. Another sign of Viktor's courage and open-mindedness is that he chose to take part in this film project.
Growing up across from the frontier of Russia, our vast neighbour to the east, it has always been a great mystery to me, albeit an interesting one. My childhood spent in the shadow of the Iron Curtain has undoubtedly had an effect on me and caused me to reflect on Finland’s relation with Russia, as well as my own. My documentary film Zavtra - Tomorrow (2005) is an example of this. The film tells the story of a married Fenno-Russian couple and the problems of their everyday life, in which the realities of cultures colliding on a broader scale become crystallized.
What is fascinating in the film Russian Libertine is that, through the rare story of an individual and a family, we can take a peek into a world which has been a tightly-kept secret. On the other hand, I find that Victor’s humanity is comforting. Who among us would not, at some point in our lives, part ways with our parents, in one way or the other? Victor’s story is also very tragic — can such things ever be forgiven? Although his father did forgive him through his sacrifice, Victor knows that he is facing an almost impossible task. Yet one does not forsake one’s own. Maybe that is something we could learn or be reminded of by the Russian.
Many documentaries have been made concerning Russia, showing grievances, incomprehensibilities and misery. As for me, these films can be easily classified into the so-called “Russia” category, simply stating that, ”of course,” the Russians are strange. This film does not present that option. Victor and his family have to a large extent lived according to a Western lifestyle, respecting similar values. Recounting this life that combines the interface of two cultural spheres and their collisions and intertwining the film with historical climaxes is what makes this documentary film an extremely exciting challenge. With Victor as our interpreter, we are able to see exactly what is happening behind the scenes in Russia and what the future of the country is really like for its citizens.
- Ari Matikainen
(s. 1970) (born 1970) is a director and scriptwriter with several documentaries and TV series to his credit. He graduated from the University of Arts and Design Helsinki as a director. His degree work, a feature documentary entitled Lone Star Hotel, was distributed theatrically in Finland and won the Jussi Award (national Oscars in Finland) for Best Documentary.
(born 1980) is a producer based in Helsinki, Finland. She graduated as Bachelor of Arts from Stadia University of Applied Sciences in 2005. She started producing films in 2007 and founded her own production company napafilms Ltd. in 2009. Besides producing her own films, she has also been involved in numerous Finnish documentary and fiction film productions as a freelance production manager, production assistant and head of marketing.
The crew of Russian Libertine also consists of Hannu-Pekka Vitikainen (cinematography), Harri Ylönen (editing), Mikko Mäkelä (sound design), Janne Haavisto (music) and Helena Mielonen (production coordinator).