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'Romka' - Russian Junior gymnast documentary

I love all of those Soviet era sports documentaries - the moodiness of the black and white photography, the silences, the variations in tone, in light and shade, the mystery of it all.  

There haven't been many films to match them since the end of the Soviet era, and I think this latest video short, authored by Denis Mahafrov, is probably the nearest modern-day equivalent.  Do take some time to view it on Youtube if you can - find the link at the bottom of the page.

Roman Lebedev, 'Romka', is a junior gymnast who trains in one of the SDYUSHOR sports schools in St Petersburg.  This short (12 minute) documentary shows him both in training and in his everyday life.  He hasn't yet made the Russian youth team - I don't know if he is even old enough to be considered - but he is an astonishingly serious and hard-working young man whose home is decorated with the many cups, medals and diplomas he has earned during his life so far.  

There are interviews with his mother, Lioubov, and senior coach Evgeny Derzhavetz.  We also see the various team members sweetly and earnestly working away in the gym.  In a quiet moment, the commentator asks these very young boys, 'Who wants to be an Olympic Champion?'.  'Me!  Me!', they all shout, leaping in the air, smiling broadly, full of joy and excitement and accomplishment despite all the apparent tension and pain of their considerable sporting effort.

The film was made by Denis Mafrahov under the aegis of the Russian Ministry of Culture and the St Petersburg  University of Cinema and TV.  If your Russian is better than mine, please could you leave a comment explaining any more information - I think it may be work submitted in fulfillment of a degree qualification, but I could easily be wrong.  It is certainly an engaging film both in subject and visual dimensions, good enough that it can even be appreciated by non-Russian speaking people like me.

I love the selection of music - alongside Muse and Radioactive we also hear Muslim Magomaev, who recorded a song for the 1980 Moscow Olympics.  Thus a subtle and nostalgic link to the country's heroic past in the sport is established.  Who was the men's all around champion in 1980?  Who else but St Petersburg born Alexander Detiatin.  Perhaps in 2028, Romka will emulate him, and wear the gold medal at his own Olympics - maybe even in his hometown of St Petersburg, which has candidate city status for those Games.


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