In Russia there is a phenomenon beyond ice fishing, matryoshkas and vodka: the garage settlement. Seemingly inhospitable sheds which offer refuge to a large number of Russians – mainly men. Within these few square metres, they create alternative living spaces, with ingenuity and tenacity, according to their own taste and beyond any rules. The garages are an expression of a retreat into privacy, an escape from everyday life. Behind the Arctic Circle, in an area dominated by the local mining company, the garage is a chance for self-fulfillment – and appears as diverse as the dreams of its owners.
Heiner Carow Prize — 70 Berlinale PERSPECTIVE
Statement of the Jury Heiner Carow Prize:
“The manhole cover is my door, but I'm happy. My life is beautiful,” says one of the characters in the film. Reaching a decision was very difficult for us in this strong year of the Perspektive Deutsches Kino. We chose Natalija Yefimkina's Garagenvolk. Cinema at its best.
The director allows us to peer into a microcosm that seems like a parallel world to us. The complex world of a morbid garage complex in a mining town in northern Russia is reminiscent of an allotment garden colony. In each of these small garages, as the film increasingly takes its time in observing, a universe of its own begins to unfold. Characters that seem bizarre at first become reflectors of society. Love, friendship and alcohol, dreams of prosperity and the future as well as inklings of joy all find a home here.
The future of all these people is NOW. And if the restless action, whether it is the search for scrap expansion of the basement, the crooked tones of the punk band rehearsal, the beating or the carved icons, if this action comes to a standstill, then the flow of life also stops, for there is no future then. While one of the protagonists digs five floors beneath his garage, a Sisyphean task without a goal, other than the delight of the moment, the film unearths images of a metaphorical dimension that go beyond mere observation. The absurdity of the actions in the characters' general hopelessness transforms the garage world more and more into reality. It's not the characters in the film who live in a parallel world, it's we who do.
- Director Natalija Yefimkina
- Producer Andrea Schütte, Dirk Decker
- Director of Photography Axel Schneppat
- Sound Ivan Arapov