Price: $210.00

    Code: 2257

    Directed by Alina Rudnitskaya
    2006, 29 minutes
    Purchase: $210 Classroom Rent: $65

    An observational documentary about the sometimes bizarre, sometimes absurd daily happenings at the Marriage Palace, a civil registry office in St. Petersburg, where people from all walks of life come to record the most significant events in their lives - marriages, divorces, births and deaths. Civil Status is another exceptional film from the St. Petersburg Documentary Film Studio.

    In this tiny windowless space, among several scattered desks manned by stoic female clerks (all married, as per office rules), we see young brides in wedding gowns, elderly widows weeping for their husbands, and married couples nervously filling out divorce papers. We overhear intimate conversations - a last minute plea from a wife to her husband, insisting she did not betray him, a middle-aged man flirting with one of the clerks - and we witness the constant arguments that erupt over improper paperwork, missed signatures, and the office's absurdly rigid rules. "It's like a theater in here," comments one of the clerks, "every minute something happens."

    Filmed in grainy black and white, without commentary, Civil Status opens a unique window on contemporary Russian society.

    Subjects & Collections

    Festivals & Awards

    * Winner, Grand Prize, Oberhausen International Short Film Festival, 2006
    * Winner, Ecumenical Jury Prize, Oberhausen International Short Film Festival, 2006
    * Winner, Jury First Prize. Documenta-Madrid Film Festival, 2006
    * Special Mention, Norwegian Short Film Festival, 2006
    * Official Selection, Rotterdam International Film Festival, 2006
    * Official Selection, Message to Man Film Festival, St. Petersburg, 2006


    “Facial expressions and a unique observational style of cinematography tell the story of the most significant life stages – birth, marriage, divorce, and death – in this award-winning documentary.... The documentary’s ability to elicit true emotion in its audience, as well as employ impressive cinematographic methods are the main strengths of Civil Status, which have undoubtedly lead to its success… An essential tool to understanding Eastern European culture." - Educational Media Reviews Online