THE VILLAGE DETECTIVE

By Bill MORRISON

PICTURE PALACE PICTURES - as PROD

Historical - Production 2019

The Village Detective examines the life of Soviet actor, Mikhail Zharov, a beloved character actor on film and on stage, whose professional life and fortune mirrors the rise and fall of Communism in the Soviet state.

Festivals
& Awards

FID LAB 2018
Post Production Award; Subtitling
    • Year of production
    • 2019
    • Genres
    • Historical, Art - Culture, Documentary
    • Countries
    • USA
    • Languages
    • ENGLISH, RUSSIAN, ICELANDIC
    • Director(s)
    • Bill MORRISON
    • Writer(s)
    • Bill MORRISON
    • Producer(s)
    • Madeleine MOLYNEAUX (PICTURE PALACE PICTURES), Bill MORRISON (Hypnotic Pictures)
    • Synopsis
    • The Village Detective examines the life of Soviet actor, Mikhail Zharov, a beloved character actor on film and on stage, whose professional life and fortune mirrors the rise and fall of Communism in the Soviet state.
      Working with archival materials from across the actor’s long and varied filmography, the film will regard the tensions and contradictions, iconography and mythology present in Soviet-era cinema through the roles of this popular actor. The film will use clips from Zharov’s films, interviews with Russian archivists and Icelandic fisherman, and a captivating modern score to posit a variety of struggles and situations within Soviet society. It will examine how cinema was used to portray a strong nationalistic state working for the common good and defense of its people (principles that justified the foundation of the Soviet Union) and the paranoid and expansionistic empire that it later embodied.

      But first, some background: On July 10, 2016, a fishing boat 20 miles off the coast of Iceland recovered a 35mm print of The Village Detective (1969) from one of its lobster traps. The print had suffered considerable water damage, but still revealed Zharov in the center of the frame. Somewhere between East and West, on the floor of the Atlantic Ocean, rested a late effort from the Soviet character actor Mikhail Zharov.

      Working with archival materials from across the long and varied filmography of Zharov, The Village Detective will depict Soviet-era cinema through the roles of this popular actor. Similar to Dawson City: Frozen Time’s exploration into the significance of the discovery of a single film collection in a former Gold Rush Town and its inherent commentary on the nature of capitalism, The Village Detective will offer similarly regarding communism and culture. How a discarded reel which found its way into a fisherman’s trawl in the middle of the North Atlantic still has the power to unlock the career of a Soviet film icon and the circumstances under which he survived, and thrived, in his environment. The fact that we haven’t heard of him yet is yet another testament to film’s – and our own – capacity to span time, and geo-political borders. The reels may have rusted into the Ocean, but the film is still intact.
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