Elegies for a Motherland: Oberhausen’s Aleksandr Sokurov Retrospective

Patience, LaborA school for professional ice skaters in Leningrad in the final days of the Soviet imperium. A young girl, maybe ten, struggles to land her lutz. She jumps. She falls. Time and again. Failure after failure. Her sympathetic but stern trainer chides her, exhorts her to jump again. Without failure, the jump would remain eternally unattainable. The girl jumps. She falls. Again and again. Yet, unlike what a Western version of this documentary might have presented, the girl does not succeed. At least not within the scope of this documentary’s narrative, otherwise abundant with grace and movement, the rigor and creativity and training at the Leningrad Figure Skating School.What better film than Patience, Labor (1985–1987) to take as an analogy for the life work of its director Aleksandr Sokurov, a life of patience and failure-ridden labor on display through his short films at the International Short Film Festival Oberhausen.
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