The Man Who Surprised Everyone

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Russia | 2018 | 105 minutes | Natasha Merkulova, Aleksey Chupov

Diagnosed with cancer, a Siberian man, inspired by an ancient folk tale, tries to fool death by adopting a new identity—one that leads to ostracism and violence from the others in his village.

"Equal parts delightful, horrifying and thought-provoking."—The Hollywood Reporter

Egor, a forest ranger in Siberia, finds out he has terminal cancer. He accepts his prognosis and prepares for the inevitable. His wife (Natalia Kudryashova), who is expecting another child, begs him to visit a shaman, who relates a Russian folktale about a creature who fooled fate by disguising itself. Therefore, Egor decides to disguise himself and dress as a woman. Dressing as a woman in a Siberian village is an audacious move that is way beyond the comprehension of the locals, and worst of all, his son and wife, who are mortified. Does he want to fool death? Will being ostracized help him accept death, or will he prevail? The more people react to him, the more he persists. Actor Yevgeny Tsyganov as Egor is stubbornly and stoically brilliant in his portrayal of the brazen forest ranger. This role deservedly won him Best Actor at the 2019 Russian Nikas, an award which he shared with Aleksey Serebryankov for Van Goghs, which is also playing at this year's SIFF. Directorial team Natasha Merkulova and Aleksey Chupov's brave film comes at a time of sanctioned homophobia in Russia. No doubt, the directors' film surprised many in its statement of resistance and love.

Maryna Ajaja

Director Biography
Natasha Merkulova was born in 1979 in Orenburg, Russia. She graduated from the Irkutsk University and from the High Courses for Scriptwriters and Film Directors of Moscow. She and her co-director Alexey Chupov co-directed their debut film Intimate Parts, released in 2014.

Alexey Chupov was born in 1973 in Moscow, graduated from the Moscow State University, and studied Movie History at Wake Forest University in North Carolina. He worked as a TV journalist before codirecting his debut film, Intimate Parts, with Natasha Merkulova.

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  • Original Language Title: Tchelovek Kotorij Udivil Vseh
  • Director: Natasha Merkulova, Aleksey Chupov
  • Principal Cast: Evgeniy Tsyganov, Natalya Kudryashova
  • Premiere Status: North American Premiere
  • Country: Russia, Estonia, France
  • Year: 2018
  • Running Time: 105 minutes
  • Producer: Katia Filippova
  • Screenplay: Natasha Merkulova, Aleksey Chupov
  • Cinematographers: Mart Taniel
  • Editors: Vadim Krasnitsky
  • Music: Andrey Kurchenko
  • Website: Official Film Website
  • Awards: Nika Awards 2019 (Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor); Venice International Film Festival 2018 (Best Actress); El Gouna International Film Festival 2018 (Special Jury Prize); Pingyao Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon International Film Festival 2018 (Crouching Tiger Audience Award); Bordeaux Independent Film Festival 2018 (Prix Erasmus+); Honfleur Russian Film Festival 2018 (Grand Prix de la Ville de Honfleur Meilleur Film); Zinegoak International Film Festival 2018 (Best Feature Film, Best Secondary Performance); Luxembourg City Film Festival 2019 (Grand Prix Special Mention)
  • Filmography: Intimate Parts (2013)
  • Language: Russian
  • Has Subtitles: Yes
  • Format: DCP
  • International Sales: Pluto Film Distribution