Elsewhere reviews Russian Snark


Although it would perhaps be possible to write the plot outline of this modest but quietly impressive feature on a very small piece of paper, the protagonists here and a few of the marginal characters bring such insightful portrayals that it keeps attention for all its 80 minutes.

First time feature director and writer Sinclair — who co-wrote Ladies Night, worked with Peter Jackson and has previously only directed short films — get a note-perfect performance out of Stephens Papps as Misha, a once-acclaimed Russian film director, who arrives in New Zealand in the late Nineties with his wife-cum-muse Nadia (Elena Stejko) in a tiny lifeboat. They are determined to seek a new life and a country more sympathetic to his artistic ideals.

As a film-maker — and we see some of his intended work intercut with the main story — Misha is pretentious, intellectual, singular in his vision and supported by the loving and long-suffering Nadia.

It gives nothing away to say Misha’s dreams are quickly eroded and that Nadia finally cracks at the thought of having to support his self-belief yet again.

The story is less in the narrative than in the way it is told, through those small but accumulating blows which can be debilitating, and the conflict between an intellectual inner world and the rather more unforgiving or indifferent reality in which the couple find themselves.

There are numerous scenes where everything is said in an expression or sideways glance, and Papps masters Misha’s stoic and stubborn persona as a man of few words but grand visions.

That redemption of a kind takes place in the context of loving, funny, generous but also slightly troubled Pacific family does seem a little bit of local cliche, but Stephanie Tauevihi as Roseanna (especially in her interaction with her “children”) brings a ring of understated truth and naturalism to the character.

Misha is a dreamer — and an unsympathetic and irritating one at that — but as his frailties are revealed, to himself and the viewer, he becomes more a figure to be supported and helped than ostracised or condemned by indifference.

Russian Snark — on DVD with no extras — was nominated for official inclusion in a number of international film festivals in 2010 and picked up best international film at the Garden State Film Festival.

The ending may suggest some new awakening and insight, but the getting there — like opening a series of Russian dolls — is worth the journey for the characters and viewer alike. – Graham Reid








The Devonport Speculator on Russian Stark screening 29th September

The Devonport Speculator covers the screening of Russian Snark. The film will be screened at the Victoria Theater in Devonport following a short Q & A session with the writer and director Stephen Sinclair (Ladies Night, The Bach, The Lord of the Rings, Braindead) and the films producer Liz DiFiore. The film was partly shot in Devonport and some of the cast and crew are from the area (including the Devonport-based actress Elena Stejko) therefore this screening holds great importance for everyone involved. Sinclair says it made sense to use his own backyard as the location for his first film as a director.

“I’m very familiar with the terrain round Narrow Neck, Cheltenham and North Head, where the rock formations and vistas offer fantastic visual possibilities,” he says. “And, of course, it’s nice and handy!”


Russian Snark screens in Devonport starting September 29th

Yay – a screening in Devonport! Local residents Stephen Sinclair, Elena Stejko and DOP Steve Latty all hail from Devonport so we should get a great crowd. Q & A on the 29th in the evening – 8pm will feature Stephen Sinclair, Liz DiFiore, Stephen Papps, Elena Stejko and Stephanie Tauevihi.

Published September 11th, 2011 at 9:21 am

Sneak peek at the DVD cover for Russian Snark coming soon!

We are gearing up for the DVD release as you know and nearly finished the slick.  We have a pre release planned as part of Arts Week and in conjunction with the Wallace Arts Trust who will be screening Russian Snark as a fund raiser for the gallery.  Watch this space for a link to the Arts Week info.

If you are looking for a respite from the Rugby World Cup, a screening of Russian Snark with a Q & A including Stephen Sinclair, Liz DiFiore, Stephen Papps, Elena Stejko and Stephanie Tauevihi followed by delicious wines and snacks and a chance to meet and greet the creatives behind this fantastic art film might be just the ticket! Keep October 14th free!

Opening night at the Rialto with the couple who inspired our story – Renata Pavlenko & Boris Bainov on Hand!

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