The Island

Director: Pavel Lounguine
Screenwriters: Dmitry Sobolev

Institute History

  • 2007 Sundance Film Festival


Anatoly, a stoker on a Russian barge during World War II, is captured by Germans, forced to shoot his own captain, and left for dead. Rescued by monks from a nearby monastery, he still lives among them 30 years later. Now a gaunt, bearded hermit living a penitent life, he stokes the monastery's boiler and compulsively revisits the scene of his wartime crime, desperate for God's forgiveness. His antics annoy the other monks, but the local people believe he has holy powers of healing and foresight. But with the arrival of a man and his daughter, Anatoly's soul may finally find peace.

Pavel Lounguine's film is mesmerizing. The extreme isolation of these islands, surrounded by the icy White Sea, allows him to dispense with anything extraneous to an existential meditation on faith and salvation.

Played beautifully by Russian rock star Pyotr Mamonov, Anatoly is a deeply moving character. His devotion is beyond question, but his sanity is not. A pariah to the more pious monks, he acts the lunatic and delights in pranks and mocking ritual. And yet only Anatoly embraces asceticism, while others forego neither comforts nor possessions. Is it possible that God would work through this ornery recluse? Of course, Lounguine's concern exceeds our hermit's conscience. The Island is a heartfelt contemplation of Russian society's soul, flung into an era of corrupting materialism.

— John Nein

Screening Details

As you use our Online Archives, please understand that the information presented from Festivals, Labs, and other activities is taken directly from official publications from each year. While this information is limited and doesn't necessarily represent the full list of participants (e.g. actors and crew), it is the list given to us by the main film/play/project contact at the time, based on the space restrictions of our publications. Each entry in the Online Archives is meant as a historical record of a particular film, play, or project at the time of its involvement with Sundance Institute. For this reason, we can only amend an entry if a name is misspelled, or if the entry does not correctly reflect the original publication. If you have questions or comments, please email [email protected]