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International Lens: Ward No. 6 

When: Tue., Sept. 7, 7 p.m. 2010
See the film IMDB calls “simultaneously nihilistic and heartwarming!” Not an accolade likely to be applied to many Hollywood productions, but 6, a Russian film that was recently up for a Best Foreign Film Oscar, easily straddles such seeming contradictions. An updated retelling of an 1892 Chekhov short story, itself based on a true story, Aleksandr Gornovsky and Karen Shakhnazarov’s psychological/metaphysical puzzle appropriately blurs the line between truth and reality. It can (and does, in the trailer) boast of being the first Russian film shot on location in a mental hospital, and some scenes combine real inmates with actors speaking Chekhovian dialogue. Its collage-like texture (interviews, flashbacks) has drawn comparisons to The Blair Witch Project. But in this remote Russian village, the terror lies in becoming what you most fear. One asylum inmate, Andrei, is also the former director of the ward, and the film backtracks to narrate his descent from psychologist to case study.
— Emily Bartlett Hines

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