RFF7 Chronicle: Winter Journey / Зимний путь (2013)
Winter Jouney is a deeply intimist – therefore narratively unconventional – film, with multiple themes that are subtly hinted. As if it was Schubert’s lied, the story is not as important as the emotions triggered by an extraordinary acting and a powerful atmosphere.
Directors Liubov Lvova and Sergei Taramaev pursue a psychological exploration of breaking points in life, represented through two seemingly incompatible dramatic centres: one of them is focused on Eric, a gay student of conservatory facing an important audition. The other center forms around Lyoha, a homeless gopnik (Russian analogue of chav) that is burgling to survive.
The homosexual undertones of the film would be merely circumstantial in any European country, but the cultural context of Winter Journey can’t be ignored. Russia’s repression towards anything considered as “gay propaganda” was an obstacle for the film distribution. Although the Ministry of Culture didn’t get to suspend its exhibition rights, Russian bureaucracy has always been a powerful mechanism of indirect censorship.
Homosexuality was a criminal offence in the Soviet era, and Putin’s Russia seems to find a lot of inspiration in the past. Take the opportunity to see Winter Journey before it’s shelved as in good old Soviet times.