Alexey Yevstigneyev's film Golden Buttons, which was filmed at the Sholokhov Moscow Cadet School, won several awards this year, including two prizes in Krakow (best short documentary film and best European film) and at the most important documentary film festival Visions du Réel in Nyon.
German journalist Sergey Zolovkin wrote on his blog about the reaction of European audiences to the film:
“Tomorrow's punishers are being brought up today.
Through all this scab of the bronzed dictatorship, something alive and talented still seeps through. But drop by drop and not here in Russia.
Now, in the normal world, they are discussing as a creative breakthrough the twenty-minute documentary film "Golden Buttons" by Alexey Evstigneyev. About the boys sent to the cadet school of the Russian Guard. Where they thought it would be a panegyric to Zolotov. But the 22-year-old Moscow student outwitted all of his guards. Having assembled from seemingly innocent shots about the everyday life of the future stronghold of power, a furious force revealing a document of the era of hypocrisy and violence.
“All power is from God, for it a true Christian is obliged to die at any moment”, a certain priest instills in “religion lessons”. A thin voice asks whether even children will be held accountable at the Last Judgment for failure to fulfill their protective duty to the ruler?
- By all means! - the minister of a cult, supposedly separated from the state, loudly bass.
Then - the obligatory viewing of the news of the First and RTR. It doesn't reach Solovyov, it's late.
But before hanging up - ten minutes to call your family or friends from your previous, proven life. Some of the children, hearing their own voices, cannot refrain from crying.
But in general they are satisfied. And even happy.
- My folder was a riot policeman. A drunken man was angry at the mother and poured boiling water over her. She died, - a boy of about ten casually narrates, - And here no one is beating me, good!
The Germans write: in the cinemas of Poland, France, Switzerland the audience is crying during the screenings. And do we have someone who knows something about the piercing work that has already won a number of international film awards? "
Publicist Ilya Vaytsman commented on this post:
“Zolovkin writes that in Germany the audience is crying at the screenings of this film, but I have something on the back of my neck and my fangs ... Because I saw a picture of the preparation of the Janissaries. Torn away from families, from friends, from the whole people in general, children are trained in personal devotion to the Sultan, as fighters, educated and ready to kill and die for him. To carry out, without reasoning, absolutely any orders of the "Sultan" ..."
Meanwhile, the author of the film Alexey Evstigneyev in an interview with Radio Liberty, said:
“These are children who still do not quite understand where they have ended up, for them it is more like playing a war game, they dream of getting to a shooting range in order to hold a machine gun in their hands, to shoot in a shooting range. They exist all day without mobile phones, and they are allowed to use them for 10 minutes before going off. They have 10 minutes when they can contact their parents or play games. Every time during such a lights out, someone will cry, someone will laugh. We originally wanted to build the film on this transition, when they suddenly became ordinary children. Here they are the military, and here the game ends. But one cannot even say which path would be correct for them. Because many grow up without a father, and their fathers are replaced by educators, they really have affectionate feelings for them. I named the film "Golden Buttons" because of the episode when the children ask the teacher to hem their buttons.
I initially started filming this film with a purely oppositional thought. And it was a revelation for me when I realized that these are the guys whom the officers replace their fathers. And you already become bound not so much by an oath as by human relations. I understood why these guys defend the authorities at rallies. I cannot speak for all the riot police, but I understand that it is their childhood, their family that they protect, and therefore they consider people who go to the rally to be enemies..."