August Eighth

August Eighth (Август. Восьмого) is a Russian film released in 2012.

The film tells the story of one family affected by the 2008 conflict between Georgia and Russia over South Ossetia, a contested territory between the two countries. Life is going along normally for Ksenia, a divorced woman who lives in Moscow, when one day her former husband, an officer in the peacekeeping forces, asks her to send their seven-year-old son, Artyom, to live with his parents in a small mountain village in South Ossetia. Her husband promises that the region is peaceful and she agrees to send their son, but not long after, tanks invade the village. Ksenia is forced to travel through the newly dangerous region and fight to save him. The film is shown partly through Ksenia’s eyes as the reality of the conflict unfolds, and partly through the eyes of her son, who sees the conflict as a comics-like fight between super-robots.

The film is certainly about a contentious subject—it is only the third film ever made about the conflict—but it differentiates itself from the others by focusing on the personal side of the conflict and how it affected the people involved. The film was partially funded by the Russian government’s Federal Fund for Social and Economic Support of Domestic Cinematography.

The film was received mostly negatively by critics in Russia. Some criticized the robots, saying that their use downplayed the seriousness of the subject matter or that they were merely a copy of those in Hollywood movies. Others were satisfied with the special effects but took issue with the film’s political content, saying that it was politically biased and even “propaganda.” Dmitry Medvedev, then the president of Russia, praised it. In Georgia, where Russia is seen as the aggressor in the conflict, the critical reaction to the film was overwhelmingly negative, and it wasn’t shown in theaters. However, the film was very successful in Russian theaters.

Director: Dzhanik Fayziev
Stars: Svetlana Ivanova, Maksim Matveev, Yegor Beroev, Artyom Fadeev, Aleksandr Oleshko
Production company: GK Glavkino
Box office take: $12.5 million

Official trailer:

August Eighth

Julie is currently studying Russian as a Second Language in Irkutsk (and before that, Bishkek) with SRAS's Home and Abroad Scholarship program, with the goal of someday having some sort of Russia/Eurasia-related career. She recently got her master’s degree from the University of Glasgow and the University of Tartu, where she studied women’s dissent in Soviet Russia. She also has a bachelor’s degree in literature from Yale. Some of her favorite Russian authors are Sorokin, Shishkin, Il’f and Petrov, and Akhmatova. In her spare time Julie cautiously practices martial arts, reads feminist websites, and taste-tests instant coffee for her blog.