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A Siege Diary
Visually stunning recreation of the longest siege in history, and its horrific effects on the inhabitants of Leningrad, during the Second World War.
Director: Andrey Zaytsev
February 1942 arrives with bitter cold, snow, and the freezing of life. For many months Leningraders have experienced starvation and a lack of transport and water, spending their days on the brink of collapse as they are surrounded by Nazi forces. A young woman named Olga, wrapped in hundreds of scarves, goes to her father in the hope of seeing him one last time. She has just buried her husband, and believes that she too will soon starve to death. Before she dies, Olga only wishes to ask her father’s forgiveness.
The siege of Leningrad (today known as St. Petersburg) lasted 872 days; this film is based on the memoir Daytime Stars by Olga Berggolts, a survivor of the siege. Zaytsev’s black-and-white visually substantial film has been called an Odyssey of the blockade’s “fear and hatred”, winning the Grand Prize and the Audience Choice Award at the Moscow Film Festival. In this historical melodrama with a frostily cultivated aesthetic, we meet the Madonna of Leningrad, the ice-flower children, frozen hearts, and a belief – held as close as the last mouthful of bread – that the days will eventually become different.