On the island of Ostrov in the Caspian Sea the inhabitants, left alone by the Russian state after the collapse of the Soviet Union, survive through poaching. Ivan regularly goes out to sea risking his life and freedom. He struggles, he laughs, he dances, he fights and he believes that one day Putin will see their misery and help.
Lost in the Caspian Sea, the island of Ostrov was once home to a well-functioning collective fishery. After the fall of the USSR, the farm was destroyed and black caviar extraction was banned. Three thousand people used to live on the island. Today, around fifty remain. The island has no gas nor electricity, no legal jobs, no doctors nor policemen. For Ivan (50), the stubborn descendant of a dynasty of fishermen, there is only one job: illegal fishing. Ivan has been convicted for poaching, yet he goes out to sea again. He has no choice – he either gets the sturgeon or he starves. Sometimes Ivan turns on the generator and watches propaganda on state television. Ivan continues to believe in Putin and Russia's imperial ambitions. His pride for his homeland compensates him for the misery of everyday life. Anna (45) studied and lived in the city when she was young, but fell in love with Ivan and chose the harsh life on the island. They want their children, Anton (19) and Alina (17), to have a better future somewhere else. But Anton, together with his cousin Roman (19), has already started to go out to sea.
Written & directed by
Director of Photography
Second Camera / Drone Pilot
World Sales: Taskovski Films
A production of DOKLAB GMBH in coproduction mit SRF Swiss Radio and Television funded by Bundesamt für Kultur, Berner Filmförderung, Cinéforom, Suissimage, Zürcher Filmstiftung, Aargauer Kuratorium, Succès Passage Antenne, Migros Kulturprozent, Fondation Suisa, Alexis Victor Thalberg Stiftung and supported by Swissfilms, Focal and Pitching du Réel 2019.