Nevada: Kingdom of Darkness

English Daily #1
Nevada (Juan Matías Musa, Anna Tyurina, Argentina/Russia, 2023) Full-Length Films Competition, 9-7 10:00 House of Cinema Grand Hall

This first joint feature by Juan Matías Musa and Anna Tyurina explores the role and place of women in a deeply conventional village. The protagonist, Shura, finds herself in a difficult situation: after burning down their house, her husband ends up in a psychiatric hospital. The rotting society, embodied by her strict and demanding mother-in-law, prevents her from escaping the shackles of ‘traditional values’. The church, still a powerful force in the village, reinforces this order by dictating that a wife must serve her husband, even in his absence.

Filmed on location using non-professional actors and local residents, Nevada portrays the remote Russian village as it also can be: hopeless and devoid of any future. Here, the neighbors are rude and gossipy, while the children are mean and cruel. Trips into the city are associated solely with visits to the mental institution, the police, or the morgue, further deepening the bleak atmosphere.

The film's commitment to a documentary-style realism is spiced up with horror-like scenes. As the woman slowly moves through the attic under the dim light of a flashlight, the audience braces for the appearance of a monster lurking in a dark corner. In another episode, the camera adopts the perspective of a maniac, chasing the terrified protagonist across a swampy field. These cinematic nightmares help construct the psychological portrait of the heroine, conveying her fears and anxieties through vivid, figurative film language.

The film crew consisted primarily of Argentinian and European professionals, offering a distinct outsider's perspective on a typical post-Soviet village with its array of problems. This is where the seemingly unrelated toponymic title comes from ("La Nevada," which means "snowfall" in Spanish), serving as a poignant reminder that this story is universal and could unfold in any corner of the world.

Alexander Melyan