Crossing Borders

Andrei Schwartz:

The Pier of Apolonovka

I call them albatrosses, these boys and girls on the quay of the Sevastopol Bay. The Sevastopol albatrosses are a symbol of the inextricable dilemma in which the city finds itself: A city too impoverished for splendor and glory, and much too alive for the scrap-heap.

The Pier of Apolonovka is a film about a summer on Sevastopol's jetty, from the first day of the holidays to the last.

At some point, the young and old albatrosses took us home with them and showed us their Korabelnaja, the once famous shipyard workers' neighborhood. There socialist pathos has now yielded to dusty reverie. We soon recognized that many of the residents there were failed, reconciled or defiant albatrosses. They still have one thing in common: Sooner or later their paths meet on the quay.

The concrete strip at the harbor is Korabelnaja's most important stage. For the children from the neighborhood, leaps from the concrete ledge are something like first initiation rites. These are moments full of optimism and happiness, when the albatrosses' jumps are inspired by a Mediterranean ease, but also there are moments that sometimes speak of deep sadness. Such girls and boys as the handsome 14-year old Pusch, who finds neither girls nor body piercing as cool as mopeds, or the shy 13-year old Nastja, who still mourns her lost first love, and who nearly died from a drug overdose, spend their summer together on the jetty.

Even the 80-year old Galina, the sprightly prima donna from the neighboring hill, still has a few tears spare for the bass voice of her erstwhile lover. But not before she completes her morning swim at Apolonovka's run-down beach or interjects her lecture on the heavenly fate of her favorite chicken with macabre humour. And then again there's wiry, long-distance swimmer Sergej, wearing his wet swimming trunks on his head to screen him from the sun, and who, despite his 85 years, on no account considers neglecting the 'third point' (sex).

A little further on, on the iron bollards, amorousness and gossip unfold. The pier is as much a refuge for the neglected teenagers as a stage for their parents' after-work dreams. Arrival and departure of the city ferries, mooring place for the sweat-soaked seamen of the fleet, and reloading station for their rusting legacy when the divers shed their bulky burden on the pier. There are berserkers - such as Vova and Andrej - one a tattooed former prisoner the other a discharged militiaman. "Before, I used to run away and he tried to catch me", says Vova, But now the both of us are running for it' retorts his friend Andrej.

The encounter between these parallel worlds is what makes Apolonovka so fascinating. The jetty is a port of call and a waiting room in one; a centre of 'unimportant' events that foreshadow what's going on outside; the origin and terminus of many stories that cannot, and need not, be comprehended in exhaustive detail.

Written and directed by
Andrei Schwartz

Editor
Inge Schneider

Camera
Marcus Winterbauer
Susanne Schüle

Sound
Andreas Turnwald
Helge Haack

Producer
Ernst Ludwig Ganzert

2008, 86 Min.

Production details
Producers: Ernst Ludwig Ganzert / EIKON West
Commissioning Editors: Martin Pieper, ZDF / ARTE; Jutta Krug, WDR

An EIKON West co-production with ZDF and WDR in co-operation with ARTE, with support from Filmstiftung NRW
Developed with support from the European Union MEDIA Programme, and the 'Gerd Ruge Projekt-Stipendium' from Filmstiftung Nordrhein Westfalen, and the Robert Bosch Stiftung program Border Crossers

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