PLACE ON EARTH (Mesto na zemle)
Dir. Artur Aristakisyan
Russia, 2001, 120 min, b/w
a homeless beggar, comes to a commune of beautiful young people who
preach love with the destitute. What she finds, is far from the heaven
on earth she expected. Jonny, the charismatic leader of the commune,
is losing his hold over his disciples and even his girlfriend is leaving
him. Maria falls in love with Jonny and tells him she is the only person
who can make him happy. What she doesnt know is that, to save
the commune, Jonny is about to commit a terrible sacrifice
Russia, 1994, 129 mins, b/w
released by KINO KINO! at the Renoir cinema, London in September 1998
and has since been shown in cinemas across the UK.
award-winning Hands is an innovative film which
returns us to the very roots of cinema. Although usually described as
docudrama, like any new phenomenon in art it defies clear cut definition.
critic called it "an unique phenomenon bigger than just a piece of art".
The film delivers an anarchic messianic message, similar to that of
the early Christians: ANY AUTHORITY, ANY POLITICAL, SOCIAL, RELIGIOUS
SYSTEM IS DETRIMENTAL TO HUMAN FREEDOM. IF YOU WANT TO BE FREE, LEAVE
THE SYSTEM EVEN AT THE PRICE OF SUFFERING AND DEPRIVATION.
There is no soundtrack to Hands except the voice-over of the author,
Artur Aristakisyan, who is addressing his yet unborn son. Yet unborn,
and most likely "to be scooped out of the womb". Artur offers him a
path to salvation, the path of sacred "madness".
We do not know whether the son ever existed or whether the extraordinary
stories Artur relates, are true. But if they are not, is one capable
of inventing them?
The film's "heroes" are a woman who has been lying on the ground for
forty years, a disabled young man who has promised not to move from
his place until the Kingdom of God comes, a dumb simpleton who ran away
from an asylum, a man with no legs moving through the sea of people
on his trolley, a collector of clothes of the dead, a hunchbacked old
woman keeping the head of her beloved hangman in a box, a man living
in an attic with birds, a blind family living from begging, an old man
collecting a pile of rubbish so that it can reach the sky...
The film seems to achieve the impossible by making one feel spiritually
uplifted and enriched despite the tragedy and horror of the stories
it relates. Director Artur Aristakisyan says he was always fascinated
by beggars. "From childhood I wanted to make a film about them. Even
as a child I had a relationship with film as if it were a church. It
was a God-given territory upon itself. You can't watch a film without
wanting to be saved. It's a meeting with the living light. The light
works with you as you work with it. I would like the film to answer
the need for community - to show how people are tied together, sometimes
HANDS (AKA PALMS) RECEIVED MANY INTERNATIONAL AWARDS. AMONGST THEM: