The Soviet Union spanned a vast area of Northern Eurasia, comprised of a number of nominal ‘republics’ and comprising countless different races, ethnicities and religions. Its dissolution sent much of the remaining Russia into chaos. Whilst order was (eventually) restored to almost all the country, inevitably some places fell between the cracks. That is the case with Ostrov, a small island in the Caspian Sea.
There are no roads on Ostrov. No jobs. No electricity. It has been left abandoned by the Russian state since the end of the communist era. However, a handful of inhabitants remain, trying to eke out an existence any way they can. They rely on fishing to feed their families, but this is now illegal. ‘Poaching’ for food becomes a perilous activity in the heavily patrolled waters. This story is captured in Ostrov – Lost Island.
Ostrov – Lost Island is a fascinated portrait of a community almost entirely forgotten. Indeed, the dystopian atmosphere is enhanced by living conditions which feel frozen in time. Svetlana Rodina & Laurent Stoop’s documentary follows the residents, split between longing to escape and hoping that Vladimir Putin will ride in on his horse to save them. Whilst those left have little option but to try and make the most of it, Ostrov – Lost Island is an eternally hopeful portrait.
Ostrov – Lost Island screens at Visions du Réel.