BFI London Film Festival 2012 – ‘Tomorrow’ is tedious, unstructured and a deeply unsatisfying effort
Directed by Andrey Gryazev
Written by Andrey Gryazev
Starring Vor, Kozlenok, Kasper Sokol
The London Film Festival, like it’s host city is a cosmopolitan blend of nationalities and creeds, featuring films culled from a vivacious variety of styles and genres, from countries pole to pole. One of the more left-field prospects in this years programme was a political charged mockumentary from Russia, centring on a Moscow based political collective who call themselves ‘Voina’ – translated as ‘war’ – this small squat dwelling enclave reject the use of currency and steal from local shops to feed their half dozen members, with a central couple who go by the pseudonyms of Kor and Kozlenok who utilise their eighteen month old child Kasper as an efficient and distracting decoy to their pilfering activities. When their ideals of artistic resistance result in an act of criminal damage, of inverting a local police car as some loosely defined sub-dadaist statement of overturning the state the forces of oppression intervene with brutal force considering the modest dimensions of the transgression, and sentence Kozlenok with a potential five year prison sentence under the loosely defined doublespeak charge of ‘hooliganism’.
There is a fascinating film to be made on the current Soviet situation, of Putin’s media manipulated blood-drenched regime, with its archaic enforcement of unjust punitive sentences for even the most minor of infractions – witness the world enveloping media cyclone buffeting the recent Pussy Riot trial – not to mention the horrendous and deeply suspicious murders of illuminating journalists such as the sadly departed Anna Politkovskaya and many of her brave compatriots. Unfortunately Tomorrow is not that film as this is a tedious, unstructured and deeply unsatisfying effort, with Voina’s manifesto remaining resolutely unspecified, and just why exactly is it permissible to steal from modest local shopkeepers in the name of some intangible, ill-judged and frankly immature philosophy?
The approach is that of the tiresomely ubiquitous verite mockumentary, an invisible cameraman following the groups laughable protestations, at numerous points the film focuses on the playful antics of the 18 month Kasper for no discernible reason, and incidents such as a collapsed drunk being assisted outside a Moscow bar are sheer padding, with no discernible relevance or contribution to the films wider ideology or revolutionary credo. The juvenile antics of the collective are as inefficient as the film-making, and when the film should catch fire with the arrest of the one of the squats ringleaders the film has almost no incendiary fervour, as it limps to a final conclusion which is neither interesting or engaging. To be charitable any example of disrupting the status-quo and inspiring collective action against such an oppressive state is to be welcomed, and I salute the bravery of anyone making any attempt at an artistic statement in such a febrile atmosphere, but also taking your toddler to a potentially violent, unauthorised demonstration will find little sympathy from viewers of any political stripe, and one concludes that the genuine bravery of those risking their liberty, health and freedom deserve a more professional, inspiring and effulgent effort than this. Hopefully Tomorrow will be another day.