Russia, 2007
Color, 85 minutes
Russian with English subtitles
Director: Aleksandr Mindadze
Screenplay: Aleksandr Mindadze
Cinematography: Shandor Berkeshi
Art Director: Aleksandr Chertovich
Music: Kirill Vasilenko
Cast: Vitalii Kishchenko, Maksim Bitiukov, Aleksandr Robak, Sergei Epishev, Stanislav Duzhnikov, Nariia Matveeva, Klavdiia Korshunova, Irina Nakhaeva, Ekaterina Iudina
Producers: Sergei Danielian, Ruben Dishdishian, Aram Movsesian, Iurii Moroz
Production: Passazhir, commissioned by Central Partnership

Although originally entitled The Dispatcher, Soar lives up to its new name. Mindadze explains the film's title: "Soar—that is when a person soars from reality, from his own 'I,' because of an extreme dramatic situation. And during this, he unexpectedly discovers a quality previously unknown to himself: he uncovers his new face, he finds a new birth" ( The idea of drifting, of soaring from reality, and the creation of a new person is clearly reflected in both the film's plot and structure.

As the film opens, viewers are thrown into a discussion about the aftermath of a plane crash, explaining that nothing is known yet and the black box has not been found. Neither the audience, nor the characters understand what has happened. And, through the film's purposefully disjointed narrative and vague plot, neither will ever learn the entire truth.

Soar has a wandering plot, often comprised of unlinked and unrelated scenes. The film follows a man, Vitia, "the driver" (Vitalii Kishchenko), on his quest to find out what happened during the crash. Unlike the other characters, he does not reveal to his companions how he is involved. Throughout the film, he encounters many others, whose lives have become connected because of the accident—both those looking for answers or for lost loved ones and those who were involved in the plane crash themselves.

Vitia begins his journey with a passenger (Maksim Bitiukov), then is joined by an old man (Vladimir Shibankov), and finally a fat man (Aleksandr Robak). He later leaves this group and joins a plane crew that was on board another flight as it almost crashed, causing the original accident. They claim they were all reborn on that fateful day. He goes as far as putting on a co-pilot's uniform in order to blend in with them, while the crew goes as far as suddenly stopping the car in order to throw Vitia off a bridge to simulate what they experienced. The passenger soon returns, and he and Vitia continue on their mission. Meanwhile, the plot continues to loosen, and becomes more and more disconnected as the film goes on, leaving many stories unfinished, and ending on a very abrupt note.

Other than the concept of soaring to a new birth, the question of whom to trust and what to believe is a central issue in Soar. The opening scene sets the stage as the airline representative insists that they are not hiding anything. Vitia and the passenger later find out that the airline and the investigation committee knew significantly more than they admitted. Throughout the film, Vitia has to learn the details on his own in bits and pieces, and each person involved, who could potentially have caused the crash, has a different story and a different person to blame. When the passenger and the fat man first meet Vitia, they each declare that they're now in this together and can't turn back. The fat man even claims that they are like relatives because they have both lost a loved one. Although Vitia abandons each of them without warning, they both find their way back into his car eventually. The airplane crew also informs Vitia that he "is in it until the end." Vitia nevertheless feels betrayed by them upon discovering that they were responsible for the crash of the plane on which he claims he was, in a way, on board. Additionally, there is the trust that everyone puts in Vitia as he drives them, sometimes without knowing the destination. Even Egorovna, his mother-in-law, does not flinch as Vitia drives them into oncoming traffic.

Soar marks Mindadze's transformation not from scriptwriter into director, but rather to scriptwriter and director. Filling both roles, he was able to envision the film as he wrote it, and then to create that image as he saw it on the screen.

Soar has been shown at several film festivals, including International Week of Film Critics at the Venice Film Festival, and Russia's own Kinotavr festival, and has won the "White Elephant" award for best screenplay and best directorial debut from the Russian Guild of Film Scholars and Critics.

Works Cited: "Otryv"

Aleksandr Mindadze (1949- )

Mindadze studied scriptwriting at the State Institute for Filmmaking (VGIK), where he met director Vadim Abdrashitov. After graduating (1971), he began working as a scriptwriter with Abdrashitov in 1976 and together the pair has produced over 10 films. Mindadze won the Nika award for best screenplay for The Servant (1988), Time of the Dancer (1998), and Magnetic Storms (2003), as well as government prizes for The Train Stopped (1982) and The Servant. Soar is Mindadze's directorial debut.

Filmography as director:

2007 Soar

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