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AIFF Review: One Man Dies a Million Times

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One Man Dies a Million Times paints a bleak picture of humanity at it’s most raw. In a post apocalyptic world, people reveal their true selves when faced with cold and hunger. In turn two young scientists, Alyssa (Alyssa Lozovskaya) and Maksim (Maksim Blinov) learn what they themselves are capable of as well. Day in and day out they guard the Vavilov seed bank, housing possibly the greatest selection of rare seeds. As famine spreads and they watch their friends starve one by one, these two botanists must also resist their most basic need to eat while living in the epitome of temptation. For what? The survival of future generations? What future will there be, what food will there be if there is no one left to cultivate it?

We follow these two characters through a harsh winter, days without food and days where they must watch those around them wither away. We watch as they drag their friends’ remains to the sanitation brigade. The sounds of air-raid sirens, bombs dropping, gunfire and screams take the audience to the edge of the battlefield. While the milieu of this film is set to the backdrop of Russia during World War II just after the Siege of Leningrad, it actually takes place in our near future. A future that is tested by war, by famine, by humanity and the lack there of.

For those of us who have not experienced wartime like this, One Man Dies a Million Times is a deeply perspective-driven film which allows the audience to see everything through Alyssa’s eyes. The connection that develops between Maksim and her, gives the audience a glimmer of hope to hold onto in an otherwise dark existence. Lozovskaya and Blinov have a natural chemistry on screen that does not always need the support of words. The most touching aspect of this film in my opinion was the narration, the dialogue was pulled from poems and journals of those individuals who lived through the actual siege. Their words, their feelings, their hearts were heard.

Directed by Jessica Oreck, One Man Dies a Million Times is both poetically brilliant and a walk back through a historical sacrifice that can only be described as benevolent to future generations. Filmed entirely in Russian with a Russian cast.

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