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Deaf Crocodile Films releasing “Zerograd (Zero City)” on bluray for the first time!

Deaf Crocodile, in association with partner Seagull Films, announced today that it’s releasing director Karen Shakhnazarov’s surreal, Kafkaesque satire ZEROGRAD (ZERO CITY) from 1988 for the first time ever on Blu-ray in North America in a stunning new 2K restoration from Mosfilm. The disc is currently available for pre-order ahead of its October 25th street date, with a digital release to follow in December.

“In my opinion, the essence of the film ZERO CITY is that a person mythologizes history, distorts it,” observes the film’s director, Shakhnazarov. “And, constantly distorting history, he distorts his own life. In essence, we do not know history — it is, in principle, unknowable for us. We constantly use the past to achieve some goals in our modern life. But in this way, by distorting our past, we also distort our present. This concerns not only the USSR and not only Russia. This also applies to the United States, and France, and China, and Brazil, and in general everyone. This is common. For me, this topic is related to the very existence of man. This is the main theme of ZERO CITY for me.”

“ZEROGRAD is such a fascinating mix of genres: part mystery, part science fiction, part political satire, part surreal comedy,” says Deaf Crocodile Films Co-Founder and Head of Distribution Dennis Bartok. “When the film was released in 1988, the Soviet Union was only three years away from breaking up — and it’s impossible not to look at ZEROGRAD as a metaphor for the U.S.S.R. in its last stages, with Leonid Filatov’s brilliant, baleful performance as the Everyman engineer who gets caught in the Moebius strip of Zero City, unable to go backwards to Moscow and unable to go forwards. Just like the Soviet Union itself at that point in history.”

Says Craig Rogers, Deaf Crocodile Co-Founder and Head of Post-Production and Restoration: “ZEROGRAD comes from the same D.N.A. as Terry Gilliam’s BRAZIL.  Surreal, wild fun. I’m so glad this film will finally be seen by a North American audience!”

Part Kafka, part Agatha Christie, and part Monty Python, director Karen Shakhnazarov’s surreal 1988 satire of the end of the Soviet Union ZEROGRAD (ZERO CITY) follows an Everyman engineer named Varakin (Leonid Filatov) who arrives in a remote city where nothing quite makes sense, but everyone acts as if it does. He’s quickly drawn into the investigation of the suicide (or possibly murder?) of a local restaurant chef, Nikolaev, – who may (or may not) be Varakin’s missing father.  The more complex and absurdist the mystery becomes, the more poignant and plaintive Varakin’s predicament —– “I have to get back to Moscow,” he pleads to no avail.  Along the way, we’re treated to a bizarre and wonderful sideshow of non sequiturs out of a Wes Anderson film, including an underground museum filled with a thousand years of real and imagined Russian history (“Here’s the pistol with which Urusov shot the False Dimitry II.”)  Frozen in time, frozen far beneath the surface, the waxwork figures are strangely beautiful and forlorn, like Shakhnazarov’s marvelous and enigmatic satire of Soviet bureaucracy.

With music by the great Eduard Artemyev (SOLARIS, STALKER). In Russian with English subtitles. 1:37:1 aspect ratio (HD pillarboxed), DTS-HD 2.0 audio

Shakhnazarov, who has also served as Director General of Mosfilm since 1998, further comments, “For us today, restoration is more of a cultural action than a commercial matter. But I think that it is very important that the masterpieces of world cinema, the classics, are now in good quality —- this in itself is very important for the preservation of this heritage.”

The Blu-ray release of ZEROGRAD features:

  • New 2K restoration from the original 35mm picture and sound elements by Mosfilm.
  • New video interview with director/co-writer Karen Shakhnazarov, moderated by Dennis Bartok of Deaf Crocodile Films.
  • New commentary track by film journalist Samm Deighan (Diabolique magazine, Daughters of Darkness podcast).
  • New booklet essay by filmmaker, writer, punk musician and genre expert Chris D. (The Flesh Eaters; author of Outlaw Masters of Japanese Film).
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