Axinya Gog’s Fedor’s Journey Through Moscow At The Turn Of The XXI Century is a short film of epic scope, for which a title this long feels totally appropriate. A film about the absurdity of human existence, the incomprehensible bliss of being alive and the vastness of intimate everyday moments, this sweeping short will challenge and reward those willing to stick with it throughout its 24-minute run-time.
When young Sasha, who’s really Fendor, gets dropped off at his distant aunt Masha’s, they both have to adapt to the new situation. Masha’s studies of ancient times start to fascinate Fendor, especially the story of Prometheus. But he is even more enamored with his new guardian — probably the first maternal figure who shows him attention and thus a canvass for the young boy’s idealization. Unable or unwilling to distinguish between romantic and platonic love, his affection toward Marsha turns into jealousy when she goes out with one of her fellow students.
Nevertheless, for Fendor, Masha remains pure, providing a sense of safety in the chaos of adolescence. As the young boy tries to find his way in a world in transition, we get glimpses into the life of a man who has been writing a letter to the president for nine years or learn from the news that ‘sexual intercourse with an unloved partner’ can lead to a new kind of disease. Fedor’s Journey Through Moscow At The Turn Of The XXI Century is really about everything but the Russian kitchen sink.
On top of all that, with its exceptional production values and exquisite photography, Fedor’s Journey Through Moscow At The Turn Of The XXI Century is also one of the most beautiful shorts we’ve seen in a while. The film exists in an almost dream-like state, evoking a mixture between Eastern European realism and the more abstract, formalistic work of Russian filmmakers of the past.
As Fendor wanders through the streets of Moscow at night, director Axinya Gog unfolds an ode to her home town and a “tribute to her childhood, when myths seamed to be more realistic that life itself.”
To be honest, the film can be a bit demanding, due to it’s long run-time and partially meandering tone. But that’s part of the appeal and all the more gratifying for watching it. Fedor’s Journey Through Moscow At The Turn Of The XXI Century covers so much ground, from a philosophical and historical discourse, to the very nature of love and happiness, that the film becomes much more than the sum of its parts — a testament to the human condition itself.