TestOriginal Title: Ispytanie
Director: Alexander Kott
Russia | Without Dialogue
On the vast, windswept and sun-baked steppe of what is modern-day Kazakhstan, a father and his daughter Dinara reside in a home full of love and in harmony with the natural world. They have a set routine, one that is disturbed by the encroachment of outsiders, including a film crew whose bus breaks down. This is how Dinara meets Maxim, a young Moscovite who falls in love with the beautiful teen at first sight. She has another suitor, though, a neighboring Kazakh boy. The two come to blows for her hand, but unbeknownst to them, even more powerful forces will intervene. Not far away is Semipalatinsk, the Soviets’ nuclear testing ground from 1949 to 1989. Can love survive when man attempts to harness the power of the sun?
Russian silent cinema (led by Eisenstein, Vertov, and others) was crucial in forming modern film language. Director Alexander Kott also achieves the same heights of cinematic mastery without words by focusing on the image and sounds. He had long wanted to make a silent film as they “have always been my inner happiness,' he says. In fact, at this year’s Kinotavr Open Russian Film Festival in Sochi, the main competition jury (chaired by Leviathan director Andrey Zvyagintsev) awarded Test the prize for best cinematography and the Grand Prix for “the realisation of the dream.'