One City. One day. Five people whose lives will change forever.

A veteran of Soviet film classics, VALERY (65) is one of Russia’s most popular film stars. Having lived in the limelight for a long time, he has become weary of it. Alcohol has provided a habitual retreat from the futility of fame. His cantankerous, melancholic nature is offset by an innate desire and capacity to entertain. He doesn’t suffer fools gladly, but he is a classic one-man show: charming, charismatic and witty.

Despite having just suffered his third heart attack, Valery has not yet confronted his own mortality. Only when he is kidnapped and confronted by ANTO and ZHENYA, does he recognise the true value of the nation’s admiration and understands that he has spent a life well-lived. He realizes that he has been sustained by the love of those closest to him and is now prepared to confront his impending death head-on.

Streetwise but uneducated, ARTO (26) and ZHENYA (27) have lived on the proceeds of petty crime for so long that they’ve forgotten the dreams that brought them together. In their minds, the opportunity to make big money is always around the corner, but never within their grasp. As a result, they are always motivated to pull off the next heist but disillusioned that their lives never change. They are bonded by the unspoken traditions of criminal fraternity and the fact that they each have a child they never see. Arto is the smart one and Zhenya, the brute. They are free to pursue life as they see it. Their free-wheeling, hedonistic existence of theft, pillage and decadence is played out when they kidnap VALERY. But when they meet KCENIA and LERA, they don’t realize that they’ve met their match.

Like many 15-year-olds, LERA is struggling with the transition from child to adult and has yet to fully process the trauma caused her father’s abandonment of her family. To protect herself from the abuse of her beautiful stepsister KCENIA and stepfather VLADIMIR, she has internalized her world and has become cripplingly shy. She shows glimpses of steeliness and curiosity. When she goes out to a nightclub with Kcenia, they go home with ZHENYA and ARTO who try to rape them. Only when Lera is forced to stand up for herself can she summons the strength to finally confront the father who has caused her so much pain.

VLADIMIR is a plump, unhealthy 55-year-old, who likes the simple life of an easy-going work schedule that yields enough money to feed himself, his daughter KCENIA and his considerable drinking habit. The problem is that he now also lives with LERA and her mother LUBOV. With four mouths to feed, his only way of dealing with this stress is to periodically escape into drunkenness. Consequently his good intentions are obscured by an abusive attitude towards the source of that stress – LUBOV and LERA. However, when his stepmother VERA dies, he realizes how important it is to take care of your loves ones and he reaches out to LUBOV for acceptance.

Now 24, STEPAN’S mother died when he was 10. Since then, his life has proceeded in reverse chronology. His Granny, VERA, who brought him up during his teenage years, could never convince him to stop reading books and to go out and play with his friends. Now he has the habits of a teenager and the lifestyle of a pensioner. His life is spent absorbed by the abstractions and distractions of video games and the furthest he leaves his apartment is the local shopping centre. He doesn’t know what his role in life is because he never thinks about it. But when he comes under pressure from his girlfriend to put VERA in a home, he starts to ask himself who he is. He finds answers when VLADIMIR tells him about his family history and comes to realize that his role in life is to take care of his family.

KATYA’S tragedy is that she is two separate characters. A successful singer, she reserves the majority of her emotional output for her stage character: a self-confident, expressive and commanding performer. Her real character, however, is left bereft of all that power. At 30 years old, she I unsure of who she is and is fearful of falling in love. Her quest in life is to merge both characters and find her centre. She thinks she must do this alone and that, for now, all she needs is companionship. When her ex-boyfriend, ILYA reenters her life, she freezes him out for fear he may push her off this course. Only when he breaks through her shell by showing her that he still loves her does she realize she must follow her course with him.

An artist and musician, ILYA navigates the world instinctively and impulsively but with great determination. He resists the temptation to submit his life to any routine for fear of losing the inspiration for his work. As a result his life is chaotic. In the year since he split up with his girlfriend, KATYA, he has plunged deeply into a dissolute life of partying and drinking and has failed to make any new work. He sees this lifestyle as a personal inheritance from his chaotic father, VALERY. So, when he learns Valery is dying, he decides to change his life by getting back with KATYA. Having made this decision, Ilya follows through on his plan with his customary determination.

ANTON (45) is a wealthy property developer. Ambitious, driven, controlling, he is an individualist who is willing to take dangerous risks in order to keep increasing the size of his business, but is unable to make any compromises for his girlfriend, KATYA or his young 9-year-old son. His net worth is his self worth. Only when he suffers the humiliation of having his business taken from him, and he is forced to leave the country, does he start to realize the true value in his life of those closest to him.
Website — Polina Serebrennikova