Andrei Platonov’s novel The Foundation Pit, a hallucinatory satire of Stalin’s plans for collectivisation that was finished in 1930 but censored for decades, sees a group of Soviet workers tasked with digging a foundation pit on which a house for the proletariat is to be built. But as the endless job goes on, sapping all their energy, it becomes apparent that they may in fact be digging a massive grave. Russian filmmaker Andrey Gryazev has taken the book’s title for a found-footage documentary, which had its world premiere at the Berlinale and screens at the Krakow Film Festival. It weaves together a deluge of clips of desperate, at times livid, appeals to President Putin that citizens have uploaded to YouTube. The title echo is clever, suggesting a Russia that may have transitioned from rule by a communist despot, but is still mired in dead-end poverty across much of its vastness, where forgotten inhabitants barely subsist, cheated out of a promised utopia. Unlike Soviet times, they now have the platform of the internet for . . .
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