Tilda Publishing
dir. Vladimir Loginov, Estonia, Belarus, 2019
Original Title: Праздник
English Title: Prazdnik
Genre: Documentary
Tech specs: 67 min, Black and White
Language: Russian
Subtitles: English
Release: 2019
Director: Vladimir Loginov
Producers: Volia Chajkouskaya, Vladimir Loginov
© Volia Films, Anthill Films
Director of Photography: Max Golomidov
Sound recording: Juri Wagner
Editor: Vladimir Loginov
Sound designer: Dmitry Natalevich
Country of production: Estonia, Belarus
World Sales: Volia Films
For nearly twenty years now one small Estonian town has organised a Ukrainian-themed fair, during which a beauty contest is held. This observational film explores whether beauty can be an object of competition, and how we should understand the phenomenon of beauty contests in the modern day.
The town of Maardu in Estonia organises an annual Ukrainian-themed festival, called 'Sorochinsky Fair' after the short story by Nikolai Gogol. More than 15,000 people come every year. This is the largest Ukrainian fair outside of Ukraine, and it has even been entered into the Ukrainian Book of Records. The film is structured like a work of literature, being made up of a number of interconnected stories. The full variety of the fair and beauty contest is presented from different angles and viewpoints: that of the festival organisers; the actor playing Gogol; the instructor from the local beauty school; the visitors; and the filmmaker, who puts on an improvised casting session for the contest participants. The film then culminates in the beauty contest itself.

This festival presents life in all its vividness, variety, and unpredictability, with the beauty contest as its central motif. The protagonists of Gogol's works are transported to the modern day in all their enchanting absurdity, and they fit in pretty well. Children dancing to adults' cult pop songs, girls putting on exotic dresses in their efforts to win 'Miss Maardu', men playing the role of beauty experts, an actor in a Gogol outfit conversing with phrases from a memorised speech, modern-day versions of folk songs and costumes from Ukraine and the Baltic states. Efforts to preserve the symbols of national culture can sometimes lead to strange results. 'Prazdnik' (festival) is a kaleidoscope of incidents and viewpoints, observed with engagement and curiosity.