“A beautiful, dead-pan absurdist gem that offers a rare, humorous take on modern labor movements.” - ScreenAnarchy
This chronicle of one outsider's attempt to revive Russia's largest state-run automaker offers an insightful view of the challenges facing the post-Soviet workforce in the capitalist global economy.
The gargantuan auto manufacturer AvtoVAZ - once known as the maker of Soviet brand Lada, is now facing a looming demise. Formed along the banks of the Volga River in the 1960s to counter Western markets with the full force of Soviet ingenuity and prosperity, it remains one of the largest part state-owned companies in Russia, and operates one of the largest auto manufacturing plants in the world, the only end-to-end auto facility in Russia.
Yet its glory days are but a distant memory for thousands of its long-time employees, many of whom carry vague job descriptions and indulge in offbeat extracurricular activities on the job, all at the same salary level. In desperate need of a savior, AvtoVAZ's owners recruit a tough and experienced Swedish executive, Bo Inge Andersson, who becomes the first non-Russian to helm the company. His arrival carries the promise of rapid capitalist reform, and revives the dream of a national champion to compete in global markets.
With this great ambition comes the slower, sobering realization that Russian society has not fully embraced the cultural and economic reform required to modernize its industries. Despite Andersson's past success with a turn-around of Russian automaker GAZ, the colossal task of reforming AvtoVAZ proves far more formidable than he had initially anticipated. He soon discovers a manifold of contradictions to prosperity, embedded in decades of systematic dysfunction, stagnation, and corruption. Tens of thousands of layoffs, restructuring and reorganization, new compensation structures, and the successful launch of a new vehicle seem to produce little headway on core issues of culture, training, and attitude.
With a cinematic flair for the absurd, this cunning documentary captures the archetypical inner conflict of post-Soviet Russia, reflected by a capable, well-intentioned outsider. The resulting portrait, engaging and bittersweet, highlights some of the pervasive disharmony in the Russian nation hidden under Vladimir Putin's official economic narrative.
71 Minutes | Russian and English, with English subtitles.