Russia, 2003, 100mn 
Colour, fiction
Roads to Koktebel
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Writing credits : Boris KHLEBNIKOV (Борис ХЛЕБНИКОВ), Aleksey POPOGREBSKY (Алексей ПОПОГРЕБСКИЙ)
Gleb PUSKEPALIS (Глеб ПУСКЕПАЛИС) ...the son
Igor CHERNEVICH (Игорь ЧЕРНЕВИЧ) ...the father
Vladimir KUCHERENKO (Владимир КУЧЕРЕНКО) ...Mikhail
Agrippina STEKLOVA (Агриппина СТЕКЛОВА)
Aleksandr ILIN (Александр ИЛЬИН)
Yevgeni SYTY (Евгений СЫТЫЙ)
Cinematography : Shandor BERKESHI (Шандор БЕРКЕШИ)
Production design : Gennadi POPOV (Геннадий ПОПОВ)
Sound : Yevgeniya POTOVSKAIA (Евгения ПОТОВСКАЯ)
Editing : Ivan LEBEDEV (Иван ЛЕБЕДЕВ)
Produced by : Roman BORISEVICH (Роман БОРИСЕВИЧ)
Production : Koktebel Film Company, Art Movie Ent.
Release date in Russia : 05/09/2003
Site : IMDb
Release date in France : 2005-11-09, Site

Awards :
Best Actor in a Supporting Role Vladimir KUCHERENKO , Annual award of the Guild of Historians of Cinema and Film Critics, Moscow (Russia), 2003
Special Jury prize Moscow International Film Festival (MIFF), Moscow (Russia), 2003
Best first film "Vyborg" Russian Film Festival (formerly ''A Window to Europe''), Vyborg (Russia), 2003
Prix Philip Morris au festival de Karlovy-Vary, 2003
Grand prix du festival d'Aubervilliers, 2004
Prix spécial du jury à Bruxelles, 2004

Plot synopsis
After his wife’s death and the loss of his job, an aerodynamics engineer sets off from Moscow with his 11-yearold son for his sister’s house in Koktebel by the Black Sea. With no money nor means of transport, they drift through the expansive and mesmerising landscapes at the mercy of chance. The father is content to drag his feet, stopping occasionally for the odd job to raise money while the son impatiently dreams of reaching the coastal resort to see gliders fly in the wind. For the father, the journey is an attempt to restore self-respect, to piece together his broken life and win back the trust of his son. For the boy, the mythic coastal town holds the key to a new life and emancipation. They come across many hurdles but the last encounter is with a beautiful young doctor who tends to the father’s wounds. She is also single and lonely, and they fall in love. The son who sees her as an intrusion on the only loving relationship in his life sets off to complete the journey by himself.
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Commentaries and bibliography
Koktebel de Boris KHLEBNIKOV et Alekseï POPOGREBSKI, Jacques SIMON,, 2012
Boris Khlebnikov and Aleksei Popogrebskii: Koktebel (2003), Vladimir PADUNOV,, 2003
Directors’ statement
As two young filmmakers on a first feature-length project, we approached the matter with great sense of responsibility. While we were waiting for funding, we used this time (a couple of years, in fact) for very meticulous preparation. During our trips along the route of our protagonists, we selected spots for virtually every shot of the film; we found and arranged the tiniest bits of props and costumes; we made a very detailed storyboard. Together with our cameraman, Shandor Berkeshi, we devised a concept for our filming style. We called it ”the forgotten camera”, whereby we would use a lot of static, non-intrusive shots, within which life would sort of originate independently, like it sometimes does in documentaries (one example being this year’s Hush! by Viktor Kossakovsky).
This was the attitude we brought to our first shooting day on location in Crimea, Ukraine. And the first take on that first shooting day had to be stopped when a bee fell into a glass of orange juice that Gleb Puskepalis (our main actor) had to drink. Today, we think this might have been a hint. Life, as it happens around us, consists of a myriad of tiny occurrences, which sometimes tell more than the most dramatic of events. At any given moment, it is up to us to observe and take note of them, or to let them stay outside of the scope of our attention. We felt that, to tell this particular story, we needed to create space on the screen where such details and occurrences would unfold in the most natural way.
One of the greatest lessons we learned while making KOKTEBEL was that, while doing everything to implement our concept (and we believe that we have mostly succeeded, thanks to the excellent crew we had), we also had to be prepared and willing to apprehend and accept the multitude of variations that nature, actors, life in general, would bring to our design. Without them, a film can convey only an illusion, but not a feeling of life.

About the film
KOKTEBEL was first conceived in 1995. The first draft of the screenplay was completed in 1998. In May of 2000, writers/ directors Khlebnikov and Popogrebsky and director of photography Berkeshi set off on an expedition along the route of the protagonists from Moscow to the eponymous town on the Crimean Peninsula in order to gather additional material and search for locations. Covering 4,000 km of country roads and sleeping in a tent, they took pictures of landscapes and people of rural Russia and Ukraine. Two more expeditions followed in 2001 and 2002.
In 2001 Khelbnikov and Popogrebsky sent their script to the European PitchPoint, an international script competition organised by ScriptHouse Agency and the European Film Academy. KOKTEBEL was one of the 10 scripts selected out of a total 120, and the writers were invited to present it at the 2001 Berlin Film Festival.
That same year, producer Roman Borisevich submitted KOKTEBEL to the Russian Ministry of Culture. The project passed the selection committee and received state funding. KOKTEBEL was shot in October and November 2002 entirely on location in three rural regions of Russia and two regions of Ukraine.

Production note
(...) This unprepossessing but remarkably sensitive road movie will most likely have a very busy festival career – and not just because it took the Grand Jury Special Prize and the Silver St. George. Rather, few selectors will be able to resist KOKTEBEL’S simple, straightforward, unadorned approach and its understated, laconic style, as it follows an 11-year-old boy and his father on a 1,000-mile journey by foot from Moscow to the Black Sea. Made by two young filmmakers, one who studied film, the other psychology, whose only previous experience has been shorts they directed together, it should find receptive eyes and specialised niche slots practically everywhere it will be shown. (...) In a variation on Truffaut’s 400 Blows finale, the last shot shows the boy sitting on an abandoned pier by the sea, gazing into the horizon as his father comes to sit next to him as both face the unknown mysteries of life. Surprisingly self-assured and confident for first-time directors, Khlebnikov and Popogorsky adopt an unhurried pace that perfectly suits this kind of journey. They often use long, immobile shots, in which the characters either start as hardly discernible points before gradually approaching or vice versa. Care is taken to place characters amid the perspective of the landscape, from the vast chilly northern spaces, basked with brown-grey light to brighter open vistas in the south. With one exception, there are never more than three or four people in any frame, while at times it is left empty. Acting is on the subdued side, with a strong presence required more than actual performances.
Ultimately, the film is as much about the relationship between father and son as it is about life in the Russian countryside, and about the people living there (...).
Keeping the dialogue down to an essential minimum, Khlebnikov and Popogorsky dote on visual details, such as the boy looking at the back of a girl’s head, that often speak louder than several pages of conversation. And laudably, they trust the audience to understand what they are talking about.
Dan Fainaru, in: Screen Daily, Moscow, 3 July, 2003
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Selected in the following festivals or events :
- Russian film festival in Paris, Paris (France), 2022
- Ciné-Club « Passy-Moscou, Regards sur le Cinéma Russe Contemporain », Paris (France), 2018
- Festival of Central and Eastern Film , Wiesbaden (Germany), 2018
- Moscow International Film Festival (MIFF), Moscow (Russia), 2018
- Fribourg International Film Festival, Fribourg (Switzerland), 2017
- Russian Film Week in Paris : Regards de Russie, Paris (France), 2013
- International debut film festival, Khanty Mansiysk (Russia), 2013
- Les rencontres culturelles Russenko, Le Kremlin-Bicêtre (France), 2012
- Journées russes à Besançon, Besançon (France), 2010
- International Film Festival "Ciné Junior", Val de Marne (France), 2010
- Mostra Internazionale del Nuovo Cinema, Pesaro (Italy), 2010
- International Film Festival of the Commonwealth Countries "Moscow Premiere", Moscow (Russia), 2010
- Moscow International Film Festival (MIFF), Moscow (Russia), 2010
- Fribourg International Film Festival, Fribourg (Switzerland), 2010
- International Film Festival of the Commonwealth Countries "Moscow Premiere", Moscow (Russia), 2008
- Moscow International Film Festival (MIFF), Moscow (Russia), 2008
- Budapest Rusian Film Days, Budapest (Hungary), 2007
- Nantes Russian Film Festival, Nantes (France), 2006
- Strasbourg two weeks of Russian cinema, Strasbourg (France), 2006
- Release in France of the film, Different cities (France), 2005-11-09
- Honfleur Russian Film Festival, Honfleur (France), 2004
- Berlin International Film Festival : Berlinale, Berlin (Germany), 2004
- Festival "Vivat Kino Rossii", St Petersburg (Russia), 2004
- International debut film festival, Khanty Mansiysk (Russia), 2004
- The Times BFI London Film Festival, London (United Kingdom), 2004
- Moscow International Film Festival (MIFF), Moscow (Russia), 2003
- "Vyborg" Russian Film Festival (formerly ''A Window to Europe''), Vyborg (Russia), 2003
- Annual award of the Guild of Historians of Cinema and Film Critics, Moscow (Russia), 2003
- "NIKA" Prizes, Moscow (Russia), 2003

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