Sweden, Norway, France, Germany


Muzzled by the increasingly autocratic regime of the “Depression Federation”, 16-year-old Marusya decides to join her generation’s suicide statistics by the end of the year. Then she meets Kimi and a love story begins between the two millennials caught in the undertow of their oppressive government.

Together, Marusya and Kimi film the euphoria, anxiety and misery of their youth, burning the candle at both ends, fuelled by drugs and music. When Kimi’s addiction threatens to make him fade away forever, Marusya’s camera becomes her last chance to save the fragile soul.

Filmed over the course of 12 years, HOW TO SAVE A DEAD FRIEND is a personal cry from the heart, and a message from a silenced generation. It is an unbreakable love story existing in a destructible world.

Director's Statement

Kimi passed away on the night of 4 November, 2016.

He wasn’t just my lover and husband, he was also my best friend, my dreamy soul mate. But he was giving up – on his future, dreams, his looks even ... He was sinking more and more into self-destruction, and it was hard for me to see how the person I love so much destroys himself. He didn’t accept any help from anybody, it was impossible to get through to him, and the only thing I could do was just to be with him.

How do you keep someone who does his best to disappear? I wanted to be there for him, but the whole situation hurt me a lot as well. Then my camera provided me the distance I needed, making everything look not real. Maybe filming for me became the same as drugs became for Kimi – an escape from reality, from everything that didn't work out for us. This experience made me think about the nature of film as a medium that captures time and keeps everything and everyone in one collective space. It reminded me of watching old wartime newsreel footage and realising that although these people died a long time ago, somehow, they are still here, alive in the footage. Was it maybe the way to save Kimi? Or maybe I could save him if he somehow becomes music? Maybe scanning Kimi’s body with the sonification app VOSIS and turning it into music is also a way of keeping him and letting him stay for as long as possible. In the end, music and his poems are what is left of him.

I also wanted to save the time, space and things that formed me and Kimi as we were growing up, and HOW TO SAVE A DEAD FRIEND is also a tribute to films of Gregg Araki and Harmony Korine; artwork of David LaChapelle; to lots and lots of music: from post-punk and grunge to emo and witch house, to Windows Movie Maker transitions, early web aesthetics, and internet forums – back when the internet wasn’t yet controlled by corporations and censored by the government, when it was a place where you could freely express yourself and find belonging, occupying your dial-up for hours.

How do you find a language for the film that spans 12 years and wasn’t meant to become a film while it was shot? The idea was to give a feeling of how it was to grow up in the 2000s, to dive into sunny summer days and kaleidoscope of formats, pulsating visuals, and sounds coming from all directions.

As time passes, as we see a chain of similar New Year addresses by presidents, the winter dark days take a hold, isolating people from each other in their apartments. Our immediate outside world, once so enticing now becomes more and more violent, with less music and fewer friends around. Colors become muted, less saturated; cuts become longer. And Kimi is fading away into the darkness.

When you lose someone close – someone who knew you well – part of your story disappears along with him. All that is left to do is to pick up the remaining memories before they turn to digital dust.

Director's Biography

Marusya Syroechkovskaya (1989) is a Moscow-born award-winning filmmaker and visual artist, who had to flee Russia as the March 2022 crackdown on opposition voices increased.

Marusya studied filmmaking at the School for Documentary Film in Moscow under professor Marina Razbezhkina and received her MA in Film Directing at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Moscow (graduated with honors).

Her student short, EXPLORATION OF CONFINEMENT received a Jury Award at the New Orleans Film Festival 2013 and qualified for the 2013 Academy Awards. It was also selected for the 35th Moscow International Film Festival, the Message to Man International Film Festival 2013, Tenerife Shorts Film Festival 2014, and a number of other international film festivals.

Her training includes workshops such as Ex Oriente Film, Flahertiana, and IDFAcademy. Marusya is a 2015 Nipkow Program Fellow (Berlin, Germany).

2022 - HOW TO SAVE A DEAD FRIEND, Documentary

Cast & Crew

Directed by: Marusya Syroechkovskaya

Written by: Marusya Syroechkovskaya

Produced by: Ksenia Gapchenko, Mario Adamson, Anita Norfolk, Alexandre Cornu

Cinematography: Marusya Syroechkovskaya, Kimi Morev

Editing: Qutaiba Barhamji

Original Score: Felix Mikensky

Sound: Yngve Leidulv Sætre, Thomas Angell Endresen, Ryan McGee, Gasan Hagverdiev, Ada Laub

Cast: Marusya Syroechkovskaya, Kimi Morev, Tatyana Moreva, Ekaterina Moreva, Andrey Pimonenko

Nominations and Awards

  • Documentary Selection 2022