Sankt–Female Identities in the Post-Utopian

  • Germany/Russia, 2017
    HD video, color, 5.1, 50 min.

  • Twenty-six years after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Norwegian student Lena travels to St. Petersburg to complete her practice-based Ph.D. entitled Female Identities in the Post-Utopian. During her stay, she meets Valya and Flarida. In the 1990s, Valya was a successful actress; now she works as a free-lance beautician and wellness provider and is on the verge of opening up a hotel spa. Flarida has just moved from a provincial backwater to the city for an undemanding job at a travel agency. She is single and dreams of finding true love. The three women, bound by a friendship both improbable and fragile, spend the summer together in St.Petersburg. As the story unfolds, they become allies: when daydreamer Flarida loses her job and has to give up her new apartment, she finds shelter with Valya on the construction site of the hotel. Valya’s business plan implodes, but she cannot and will not accept the situation, so Flarida takes her under her wing. Meanwhile, feminist Lena tries to ‘enlighten’ Flarida, who resists her efforts. Ultimately, Lena has to redefine her own role. Sankt—Female Identities in the Post-Utopian humorously explores the models, myths, and imponderabilia of femininity in (post-) socialist everyday life.

  • NARRATOR. Valya described herself as a real Petersburger.
    VALYA. A human being needs flowers.
    NARRATOR. She had worked in the theater for the past twenty years, but had not been given any roles for quite some time. So she decided to quit. Her new role was now that of a real life business woman. All her fans were waiting for the opening of this business in much the same way as they used to wait to see her in a new role in the theater.

  • Location shot, flower shop at metro station Udelnaya
    in the northern suburbs of St. Petersburg, 2015.

  • NARRATOR. Lena wanted to forget Valya’s irritating critique and get on with her projects. In this very moment of disappointment, and yet heroic mood, she has had a great idea for a performance. Flarida was exactly the right person for Lena’s idea!

  • COSMETOLOGIST. You need to pamper yourself. You can’t go about like that.
    FLARIDA. (In English) You have to make your hands beautiful. Everybody wants to be beautiful.
    LENA. Are there any animal products in it?
    COSMETOLOGIST. (Ignores the question, continues her manicure work on Lena. Discovering the life lines inside her hands, studies them intensively.) Yes. I’m listening.
    LENA. (Slightly frightened) What am I supposed to do?
    COSMETOLOGIST. (Drawing a line with her finger inside Lena’s hand) Go to the satellite town. Ask the people there about their dreams. They will be able to tell you a lot.
    FLARIDA. (Watching Lenas new hands) Now they look pretty.
    COSMETOLOGIST. And now the face. The face is like a canvas.
    FLARIDA. (Dragging Lena to the mirror) You’re so beautiful.
    COSMETOLOGIST. (Contented and proud) Like sisters.

  • VALYA. What’s the matter?
    FLARIDA. I have nowhere to go. All my family is in the Urals.
    VALYA. Come in.
    Valya and Flarida stand in the doorway, looking into the room. The room is old, abandoned, and very run-down.
    VALYA . We have loads to do.
    FLARIDA. Thank you.
    Flarida embraces her earnestly—Valya allows the embrace but does not return it. Valya leaves. Flarida walks about the room, looks around herself. She breaks out in tears.

  • NARRATOR. Both silently agreed on and enjoyed Lena’s new and unexpected role, Lena being somehow like an older sister to Flarida. They were dreaming about their new friendship.

  • As the desperate Valya has a nervous breakdown, Flarida comes running.

  • FLARIDA. Valya! Valya, what’s up? Valya ... What’s the matter?
    VALYA . (Weeping) It will all be ...
    FLARIDA. It will.
    VALYA . It will be just beautiful.
    FLARIDA. Sure!
    VALYA. It will be my tropical ... paradise.
    FLARIDA. Certainly.
    VALYA. Myspa.
    FLARIDA. Sure, Valya. Sure. Calm down. It will be just beautiful.

  • This film is in featured in the book Sisters Alike. Female Identities in the Post-Utopia

  • Cast and Crew

    Lena: Philine Bührer
    Flarida: Anya Raycheva
    Valya: Olga Feofanova

    And in order of appearance:
    Folkloric Dancers: Viktoria Matveeva, Natalia Vokhminceva, Oksana Volkova
    Narrator: Lene Markusen
    The Local Girl: Vasilisa Kadina
    Florist: Rosa Gurgenyan
    Voice of Female Museum Guide: Imogen Burell
    Voice of Dostoyevsky in Museum Guide: Liam Mockridge
    Poet: Michail Loov
    Architect: Sergey Chernov
    Boss: Ruslan Kazagadschiev
    Cosmetologist: Aljona Kremlenkova
    Watermelon Vendor: Marina Solomonova
    Lead Animator: Daniiel Dankovskiy
    Animators: Tatyana Avramenko, Lyudmila Borimskaya, Gleb Chernov, Yuriy Gogin, Sabina Khudayberganova, Nadezhda Kolodeeva, Olga Mervis, Dariya Mickeeva, Ekaterina Osipova, Alisa Ozyabkina, Yulia Parikyan, Angela Vinogradova, Alexander Yegodurov, Evangelina Yegurova
    Mother: Lidia Dorotenko
    Young Women at Fountain: Lyudmila Kalentieva, Oksana Samarskaya

    Written and Directed by Lene Markusen
    Producer: Linda Meier-Matern
    Director of Photography: Ute Freund
    Focus Puller: Alexander Bogdanov
    Original Sound: Alexey Antonov
    Set Design: Jörg Güttgemanns
    Editing: Lene Markusen
    Dramaturgic Editorial Consultant: Franziska Schmidt-Kärner
    Music: Martin Fekl
    Sound Design: Martin Fekl, Kim Kiesling / Wohlklang
    Re-recording Mixer: Ulf Krüger, Krüger & Krüger Studios

  • Beauty Salon "Time"

  • Three women in a park on Mosfilmovskaya Ulitsa, Moscow, 2015. The two younger women have just bought violet cotton candy at the café next door while the older of the three watches their surroundings after busying herself with adjusting the tarp on the wooden bench.