In “Durakovo: Village of Fools” we see the kennel of ferocious canines kept by the mayor of the Russian town of Durakovo within his walled compound... Nino Kirtadze’s examination of the fascist microcosm Mayor Mikhail Morozov has built on the ruins of Russia’s failed Western-style democracy suggests that the disastrous free-for-all the country went through in the 1990s has caused the pendulum to swing back in the other direction in this case, way back. A distasteful dumpling of a man with a passion for hot tubs and giving orders, Mayor Morozov has restored the “vertical of power” of the tsarist era in which a ruler stands between God and the commoners to everyday life. “Equality on Earth doesn’t exist,” he tells his obeisant citizens, adding that the fall of the Iron Curtain has “only bred disaster and lawlessness.” There is no TV or radio in Durakovo, no new residents are admitted without the mayor’s approval, and all letters traveling in or out must pass through his hands.
Ms. Kirtadze’s powerful, slow-building film might sound like little more than an exotic novelty, but her subject’s alliance with national authorities including the vice-speaker of Parliament, who hails Durakovo as “a symbol of national revival and recovery” makes her film chilling proof of the resurgent authoritarianism in Russian politics.
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