Hero City

Country: Russia, UK
Duration: 14 mins
Available Format/s: HD Video / HD Digital file / BluRay


Hero City is set in an unnamed city above the Arctic circle, in the far north of Russia. A narrator, the film-maker, retraces her journey to the city. She tells of her encounters and her recollections of what happened after her visit, between the time of filming and the time of her telling. However, she is aware that the images like her own memories of moving through the city cannot be trusted to provide any certainty about what was happening, what she saw, what she felt and what it meant. Like memories, they shuffle around in one’s mind, play tricks, taking on a life of their own. The power of images and sounds of a place to conjure memories and associations, or to usurp memory altogether, is played out in the film. A museum is a stage for conjuring: its objects, artifacts and spaces become talismans to be deciphered, or sites for imagining alternatives. The museum in the film is a composite of several museums in northern Russia, in particular the Museum of the Arctic and Antarctica in Saint Petersburg. Situated in a Baroque church, founded in 1937 at the height of the Terror, it holds the visitor and the viewer captive in all its histories.The soundtrack brings its own associations to Hero City, from fragments of a pop song by a local choir, to the post-punk band at an Arctic music festival. The film also uses fragments of the musical soundtrack from the film Aerograd, by Alexander Dovzhenko, of the same vintage as the museum and the city in its glory days.The question of what it means to be or become a witness is a recurring theme. What does it mean to be a witness to one’s time?

More works by Ruth Maclennan

, 2009
14 Minutes

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