Russia 88 is a Russian “mockumentary” that analyzes the phenomenon of skinhead gangs in today’s Russia. The genre is not well developed in Russian cinema; the most recent example is Aleksei Fedorchenko’s First on the Moon(2005). With the exception of the final text, Bardin’s film consists entirely of footage shot by Edik, a member of the skinhead gang “Russia 88” (the gang’s name references the 8th letter of the English and German alphabets). The footage is presented to the viewer “raw”: there is neither plot nor narrative coherence until well into the film’s 104-minute running time. Once a storyline begins to develop, the action moves quickly to a climax that gives the film emotional impact without really contributing to the ideological message of the work.
The film purports to be a documentary on the life and ideas of young nationalist patriots, the footage of which is to be uploaded to the internet as a recruiting and propaganda tool. Although the material seems shot at random, several organizational principles are followed: we see the gang during physical training, indoctrination meetings, and parties at which aggressively racist songs are performed. Interviews of two types are conducted: the cameraman periodically asks individual gang members how and why they “became fascists,” and in on-the-street interviews ordinary Russians respond to whether they subscribe to the nationalist motto “Russia for the Russians.”
Pavel Bardin (b. 1975) works in television, cinema, and radio. After graduating from Moscow State University with a degree in broadcast journalism (1998), he completed a program in film and television directing. (2000). During his student years he worked as journalist for nearly all of Russia’s prominent TV channels (ORT, RTR, TV-6, NTV). More recently he has focused on directing. His 1999 student film Hero won first prize at a festival dedicated to debut and student films. That same year the Kinoshok festival presented Bardin an award for his screenplay Grizzly. In 2004 he directed the television series Bachelors; and since 2005 he has been directing and serving as creative producer for the Russian MTV show Club. He also hosts a radio program on the Echo of Moscow station. Garri Bardin, the prolific animator, is Pavel’s father.