Konchalovsky’s tribute to ‘pure’ Soviet soul tipped for Venice win

A paean to the “pure” soul of the Soviet people by Russian master Andrei Konchalovsky has emerged as one of the frontrunners for the top prize at the Venice film festival.

Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin may have slaughtered millions of his people, but he can do no wrong for the good women of Novocherkassk who feature in Konchalovsky’s new film, “Dear Comrade”.

“If only Stalin were still alive… he knew what to do,” one of them says. “Prices didn’t go up under Stalin, they went down,” says another.

Based on the hushed up massacre of 26 striking workers under Stalin’s successor Nikita Khrushchev in 1962, ambivalence is everything in the latest offering from the one of Russia’s most renowned film and theatre directors.

The movie is “not about politics or even the event itself. It’s a fairytale,” Konchalovsky told AFP. “It’s about the characters, and they are good and bad at the same time.” 

None more so than one of the most ambiguous KGB officers ever to grace the screen.

At the heart of the film, however, is a powerful Soviet woman, a war veteran and diehard communist official who is forced to choose between her striker daughter and the Party.