In the Siberian city of Achinsk, the upcoming presidential election is not at the forefront of most people's minds. Dominated by an aluminum plant and a refinery, the city of 100,000 is far from Moscow, and features bitter, harsh winters. One form of winter entertainment is cutting into the river ice with a chainsaw and swimming in the freezing water.
Filmed in Achinsk during the run-up to Russia' 2012 presidential election, SLEEPING SOULS talks to ordinary Russians about their views on the vote, interviews political operatives, and takes us to the polls on election day, as citizens cast their ballots and the votes are counted.
We meet some who are hoping for personal favors in exchange for their vote, and others who can't be bothered with the process at all.
One of the film's highlights is an interview with a hard-drinking, chain-smoking, mercenary Putin organizer. Political operatives are known for their cynicism, but rarely do they display it so openly, lamenting the days before the Internet when people in small cities would believe whatever you told them, hoping to create a large enough turnout to ensure Putin's victory is seen as legitimate, and admitting that little has changed since the days of Soviet elections with one candidate on the ballot.
Against the backdrop of news of anti-Putin protests in Moscow, and sometimes surreal scenes of daily life in Achinsk, SLEEPING SOULS is a rare look inside the Russian electoral process, as it plays out in one small city.?
Prize of the l'Institut Français, Cinema du Réel Film Festival
Human Rights Documentary Film Festival of Vilnius
dokumentART European Documentary Film Festival