The National Library of Russia is a relic of state control and protection, affording the people who work and study within its walls some sanctuary from what is going on outside.
Among them is Vasily Zvarychuk, curator of Russia’s largest collection of recorded music and resident conductor.
He is a man that lives for music with a passion that somehow transcends the material tragedy of today’s post-communist Russia.
Vasily takes us from within the library’s labyrinthine vaults and magnificent reading rooms out into the desolate northern suburbs of the city.
‘A St. Petersburg Symphony’ is an impressionistic reflection on devotion and resilience, both elegy and hosannah to the spirit which carries people above the indignity of reality.
In my graduating year at The National Film & Television School we were given the freedom to make a film about almost any subject we wanted, and I knew that I had to take this opportunity to visit Russia. As a child I spent a lot of time with my Russian grandmother, a brilliant story-teller who immersed me in Russian language, culture and food. Going to Russia for the first time in 1999 felt like a return.
I set out to make a film about the National Library in St. Petersburg, a place first described to me by my uncle who had visited as a newspaper correspondent for the Times in the 1960’s.
It was the idea of sanctuary and spiritual calm in the midst of the chaos that drew me to this subject, and I loved the passion and emotion of the Russians, their directness and their inherent interest in high ideals and philosophy.
A graduation film for THE NATIONAL FILM & TV SCHOOL
U.K., 28' 35mm colour stereo
ELENA SNOW & SASHA SNOW
Sound Recording & Mixing
VALLADOLID INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
“This film is honored not only for its visual skill but for the value it places on the individual in a world of total material decadence.”