How I Ended This Summer Grigory Dobrygin, Sergei Puskepalis Director: Aleksei Popogrebsky Set in a remote corner of northeastern Russia, How I Ended This Summer revolves around two seemingly very different meteorologists who are manning a weather station. The title of the film alludes to a comment made by the older scientist, a growling bear of a man called Sergei (Sergei Puskepalis), as he rebukes his younger colleague Pavel (Grigory Dobrygin). The latter's sloppiness, he scoffs, is indicative of Pavel's attitude towards his job, that it is a meaningless foray which he'll write up later as an exotic work placement that he carried out one summer in the wilderness. What director Aleksei Popogrebsky has in store for Pavel, however, is much more than just a few months in the Arctic sun. While How I Ended This Summer is essentially a two-character piece - the only other characters are merely voices heard over a radio transmitter - the film is powered by Pavel's drastic rite of passage. He begins the film as a starry-eyed slacker amusing himself with his MP3 player and the games he invents for himself, and ends up a bewildered, beleaguered individual roaming the barren landscape out of desperation rather than choice. The turning point in Pavel's summer comes when he receives a devastating message that he should have passed to Sergei and, somehow, doesn't - a move which eventually poisons the relationship between the two men. Both Dobrygin and Puskepalis deliver turns thoroughly deserving of the best actor awards they won at the Berlin Film Festival, but the power of their performances owes much to Popogrebsky's remarkable ability to sustain the tension throughout - the mise-en-scene, combined with Pavel Kostomarov's cinematography of the lands of Chukotka, manages to instil calmness and then menace as the story unfolds. In turn, How I Ended This Summer transcends its austere, arthouse roots and creeps slowly and steadily into thriller territory - and Popogrebsky's sure-handed approach mixes both while never compromising his artistic credentials. A portrait of degenerating human psyches in a depopulated terrain, How I Ended This Summer radiates powerful emotions in a strange land. Extras: an interview with Popogrebsky, trailer.