IDFA 2016 Review: Siberian Love

Feminism? What’s that?

Director Olga Delane migrated from a Siberian village to Berlin with her family when she was 16. Twenty years later, she decides to go back to her roots, looking for something she could not find: love. Her relatives find it strange that she is still childless, laughing every time the German capital is mentioned; according to them, a life without a family of your own is empty and pointless.

Delane documents four households throughout the course of a few years, always raising the same questions: what is love? does it exist? The pattern remains the same in those people’s lives. Men smoking their cigarettes, lecturing about how the male should be the provider and leader of the house, while the female must remain silent, respect her husband and never question his will. At the same time that men talk, their wives are running around nonstop, like bees in a beehive, taking care of the house, the family, the animals. When asked about love, they smirk. If it exists, it lies in the force of habit. They all got used to their abusive husbands. When Delane asks one of them if she has heard of feminism, she has no idea what the director is talking about.

Siberian Love  is a bittersweet, deep and objective exploration of a small society whose norms are not familiar yet with contemporary conveniences, such as dating apps. The rough -yet astonishing- Siberian landscape adds to the excellence of the photography, while the colorful interiors create a beautiful contrast. It is not just a documentary that dives into a society; it is a reminder that, despite the negative impact of rapidly evolving technology on human relationships, there are still parts in this world where people put their values, customs, and ideals first.

Siberian Love by Olga Delane (Germany, 80′) IDFA 2016

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