True/False, Sheffield, Hot Docs, Sarajevo, Docs Against Gravity, Nashville,
A dashboard camera view of modern Russia.
Kalashnikov’s project is deceptively and deviously simple, consisting entirely of found footage shot from scores of ordinary civilian dashboard cameras, a ubiquitous feature of Russian vehicles. Edited together like a YouTube supercut, these clips offer a seductive, compulsively watchable series of disconnected mini-episodes in the lives of Russian motorists, from the harrowing to the sublime. Positioned in the driver’s seat, the viewer witnesses road rage, narrowly avoids collisions – or doesn’t!, watches as some of the strangest human dramas briefly flash on screen, drive through a forest on fire, and are confronted with impending violence at seemingly every turn. At the same time, part of the pleasure of this refined clip show is experiencing the reactions of the drivers, often darkly comedic or blasé, suggesting that Russians have pretty much seen it all.