Rotterdam 2021: ‘Dear Comrades!’, Andrei Konchalovsky’s record of the Novocherkassk massacre

Posted on February 6, 2021


The movie is based on a true story that happened on June 2nd, 1962, and kept secret until the Nineties. Culprits have never been convicted.

Spoilers ahead…

Andrei Konchalovsky has had one of the odder careers in world cinema. He began by writing a couple of Tarkovsky classics (Ivan’s Childhood, Andrei Rublev) in the 1960s. By the 1980s, he was in Hollywood, making mainstream fare like Tango & Cash, starring (gulp!) Sylvester Stallone. (You have to admit that’s some leap!) And now, in his 80s, he’s back to his roots in black-and-white Russian cinema. His latest film, Dear Comrades!, premiered at the Venice Film Festival, where it won the Special Jury Prize. This week, it was part of the line-up at the International Film Festival of Rotterdam.

It’s 1962. We are in Novocherkassk, in the erstwhile USSR, and right off, we meet our protagonist, Lyudmila (Julia Vysotskaya). She appears to be a woman of patterns. During World War II, she was a nurse at the front, and she had an affair with a married man. The man she is sleeping with now — her boss — is married, too. Another pattern: She is a staunch Communist. She longs for the days of Stalin! Now, she works as an official in the Communist Party.

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