One week before December, the movie “Winter Season” is released. This is the directorial debut of actress Svetlana Ustinova. Why is this important and unusual story about mother-daughter relationship for Russian cinema?
The mother, according to the story, is progressing with dementia, which the daughter suddenly learns about. “The season is winter” is a very personal statement for Ustinova. My mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at the age of 56. It was like snow for the whole family. To process the experience, the actor first started keeping a diary, and then decided to write a screenplay. He invited Yevgenia Dobrovolskaya to play the role of the mother, Yulia Snigir to play the role of the daughter, they all played together in Chekhov’s Moscow Art Theater. Ivan Afanasiev, film reviewer for Forbes, tells us about how the picture came about:
Ivan Afanasyev Forbes film reviewer “I think it’s a pretty uneven film in terms of how it’s made. It’s cold, I think that’s why Yulia Snigiri was chosen for the main role. Somehow it even has a name suitable for such pictures. Not in terms of cold, ingrained feelings, but generally a bit detached. In my opinion, sometimes it seems a little stretched, but I understand that, first of all, this is a very sincere and very personal picture for Svetlana Ustinova, therefore, despite some detachment, which, again, was taken as a stylistic tuning fork. For a reason, because the theme of dementia implies that the protagonist and the film may be distant from the audience. At the same time, it’s hard not to be imbued with them. Shot to crack, as they say.
The topic of various mental illnesses in Russian cinema, frankly, is not very common. The same dementia while in foreign cinema is not uncommon for a long time. Still Alice with Julianne Moore, who won an Oscar for the role in 2015. Then “Father” with Anthony Hopkins, also an Oscar winner. In October, Gaspar Noah’s Whirlwind, about an elderly couple trying to fight Alzheimer’s disease, reached Russian cinemas. Ustinova’s film “Winter Season” was shown for the first time in Russia at the Vyborg festival “Window to Europe” and this film made many cry, says Susana Alperina, a member of the jury of this festival, reviewer. “Rossiyskaya Gazeta”:
Susana Alperina Reviewer for Rossiiskaya Gazeta “This, I think, was shown the other day or the day after Avdotya Smirnova’s The Carpenter. For me, these two films are a continuation of the other, because there was a time when they did not shoot at all about sick people who need help. There is one film “The Carpenter”, how a father behaves in a family where a child is terminally ill, and the film “The Season is Winter”, when the daughter and the mother and the mother have dementia. It seems to me that they played very accurately, and there are such disturbing accents. Of course, “Winter Season” cannot be compared to, for example, the movie “Dad” or the movie “Whirlwind”. These are different types of creators, but the idea is transferred from one film to another. You compare. It is important not to speculate on this topic. This should be done as sincerely as possible, so that people who do not have this problem in their lives, but who can empathize and sympathize, are affected. It seems to me that Ustinova has succeeded.”
The film “Winter Season” has outstanding producers: Ilya Stewart and Murad Osman, who previously filmed “Persian Lessons”, “The Execution”, “Petrovs in the Flu”, “Summer”. If these producers make their directorial debuts, they are always films that claim success.