Cleveland International Film Festival } March 22 – April 1, 2023 } Playhouse Square

(Pro Ourodov I Lioudiei)

Year: 1998
Country: Russia
Run Time: 92 minutes

Imagine a three-way DNA gene-splicing of Nikolai Gogol, D.W. Griffith, and David Lynch, and you have OF FREAKS AND MEN, a marvelously macabre tragicomedy set in czarist-era St. Petersburg. Portrait-photographer Johann has descended to making fetishist prints of nude or bare-bottomed women being spanked, a long way from the days when he captured the image of the beautiful child Liza for her wealthy engineer father. Now Liza is grown up, restless, and among the clandestine buyers of Johann's peculiar brand of pornography. And Johann has not forgotten Liza, even though his goodhearted young apprentice Putilov is also smitten with her. Meanwhile, Johann's ghoulish sales agent Victor develops his own obsessions, specifically with a pair of singing Siamese tiwns adopted by a respected doctor, whose genteel household is also ensnared in Johann's web of depravity. The new inventions of the cinematic camera and sound recording add another dimension to these strange characters and their furtive perversions. Old-timey cards, meticulous direction, and a stunningly deadpan cast round out Alexei Balbanov's ornate, sepia-toned melodrama-o-rama of obsession and abnormalities. (In Russian with English subtitles.

Alexei Balabanov

Alexei Balabanov

Sergei Selyanov, Oleg Botogov

Sergei Astakhov

Dmitri Shostakovich

Principal Cast
Sergei Mokavetsky, Dinara Drukarova, Victor Sukhorukov, Lika Nevolina, Vadim Prokhorov

Film Contact
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