1945, Leningrad. World War II has devastated the city, demolishing its buildings and leaving its citizens in tatters, physically and mentally. Although the siege – one of the worst in history – is finally over, life and death continue their battle in the wreckage that remains. Two young women, Iya and Masha, search for meaning and hope in the struggle to rebuild their lives amongst the ruins.

Director's Statement

BEANPOLE is my second feature film. It is very important to me that my story takes place in 1945. My heroes, like the city they live in, are mangled by a horrible war. They live in a city that has endured one of the worst sieges in the history of warfare. This is a story about them and about people they meet in Leningrad, the obstacles that they have to overcome and the way they are treated by society. They are psychologically crippled by the war and it will take time for them to learn to live their normal lives.
I am interested in the fates of women and especially women who fought in the Second World War. According to data, this was the war with the highest participation of women. As an author, I am interested in finding an answer to the question: what happens to a person who is supposed to give life after she passes through the trials of war?
The film has a particular colour palette. When I started to study the diaries of people who lived during that time, I learned that despite all the hardships and the devastation, they were surrounded by bright colours every day. This conflict between bright colours and the nature of post-war life is also very interesting to me.
The book “The Unwomanly Face of War” by the Nobel Laureate Svetlana Alexievich was my main inspiration for this film. This book opened a whole new world for me. I came to realise how little I knew about the war and how little I knew about the role of women in the war. And this led me to another thought: what would happen to a woman after the war was over, when there was a tectonic shift in her mind and her nature, a violation of her nature that would obviously take place afterwards.
Leningrad was especially important for me as it was the city that survived this terrible siege, and the consequences of the siege played an important part in the film. It was vital for me to feel this space and background in the film, and you can feel it even now, in today's Leningrad (Saint Petersburg).
We feel the consequences of war in the space where the action takes place, and in the colour palette of the film. But most importantly it’s in the fates of our heroes. It was important for me to show the consequences of war through people’s faces, eyes, physiques, bodies, not just through abandoned or destroyed buildings.
On a surface level, BEANPOLE is a word that describes the physical attributes and outlook of our main hero Iya as she’s a very tall woman. But for me BEANPOLE is more about clumsiness and this is how my heroes feel and express feelings in the film – they are clumsy, they are learning how to live again after the war and it is very difficult for them.

Director's Biography

Kantemir Balagov was born in Nalchik, Russia, in 1991.
BEANPOLE marks his second feature film, having made his directorial debut with the 2017 film CLOSENESS, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in Un Certain Regard and was awarded the FIPRESCI prize.
Balagov graduated from Alexander Sokurov’s directing workshop at Kabardino-Balkarian State University in 2015. During his studies, he made a number of fiction and documentary films, which took part in various domestic and international events.


Cast & Crew

Directed by: Kantemir Balagov

Written by: Kantemir Balagov, Alexander Terekhov

Produced by: Alexander Rodnyansky, Sergey Melkumov

Cinematography: Ksenia Sereda

Editing: Igor Litoninsky

Production Design: Sergey Ivanov

Make-Up & Hair: Olga Smirnova

Original Score: Evgueni Galperine

Cast: Viktoria Miroshnichenko (Iya), Vasilisa Perelygina (Masha)

Nominations and Awards

  • European Actress 2019
  • Feature Film Selection 2019