(88 mins) Winner of the Best Film at the Venice Film Festival, Vodka Lemon is a bittersweet concoction with a kick. In the snowy badlands of post-Soviet Armenia, village life is nearing subsistence level. As one character says, "The only thing the Russians have left them is the one thing they didn't have before - their freedom." Forced to sell off possessions while awaiting money from his son, a former Red Army officer, can only count on one thing: daily trips to the cemetery to commune with his late wife. There, Nina, a beautiful widow, tends her husband's grave. On the bus back to the village, a tender romance blossoms. The miracle of Vodka Lemon, the third feature film by exiled Iraqi Kurd director Hiner Saleem, is that this portrait of an abandoned community is so magically upbeat. With its stunning, blinding-white vistas, its lovely Armenian score, and its Iosseliani-esque whimsy, the film celebrates its quirky characters and, at its heart, is a Chagall-like vision of love among the ruins.
In Kurdish, Armenian, and Russian with English subtitles.