Films & Schedules
  • Hipsters

  • Valery Todorovsky

Country: Russia
125 minutes

Friday September 1806:00PM RYERSON Buy Now
Saturday September 1912:45PM AMC 6 Buy Now
Saturday September 1907:15PM AMC 5 Buy Now
Description Credits


A vibrant musical might not be what you'd expect from contemporary Russian cinema, but Valery Todorovsky's Hipsters is an Iron Curtain version of Swing Kids meets Hairspray, bursting with razzle, dazzle and, of course, rhythm.

Christened with a name that stands for Marx-Engels-Lenin-Stalin, Communist youth Mels (Anton Shagin) is obviously primed to rebel. When he first lays eyes on Polly (Oksana Akinshina) in drab fifties Moscow, her bright-red lipstick, poodle skirt and flamboyant hipster friends shatter his dutiful, straight-laced outlook. Mels finds himself drawn into Polly's kaleidoscopic world, a fun-house-mirror version of the West where flashy candy-coloured outfits, jazz music and nights spent swing dancing in smoky, swanky clubs are a form of resistance against the oppressiveness of Soviet society. Soon, Mels is buying a saxophone on the black market and letting his hair grow into a proud pompadour, risking the loss of his Communist party membership and his friendship with the stern yet beautiful Katya (Evgeniya Brik). Inevitably, Polly and Mels's glamorous lifestyle is threatened as members of the scene start growing up, abandoning their wild ways and even (gasp!) discovering that jazz is falling out of fashion in America.

Hipsters is a lush rebel-with-a-cause musical chock full of intricately choreographed, toe-tapping numbers and plenty of none-too-subtle social commentary. The plot takes many unexpected twists and turns as it celebrates the uneasy Cold War romance between East and West. Resplendent costumes and sets clash with the grey, rain-slicked streets of Moscow, offering a glittering indictment of Soviet values. A hit in its homeland, Hipsters danced away with the prize for best film at the Russian Nika Awards. Director Todorovsky splashes the screen with vivid colour and energy in a giddy and broad ode to the timeless themes of love and freedom.

Colin Geddes

Valery Todorovsky was born in Odessa, Ukraine, then part of the Soviet Union. He studied screenwriting at the Russian State Institute of Cinematography (VGIK) and is a director, screenwriter and producer. His films include Love (92), Katia Ismailova (94), The Land of the Deaf (98), The Lover (02), My Stepbrother Frankenstein (04), Vice (07) and Hipsters (08).
In celebration of Hipsters, the Festival presents free swing lessons and a live performance by Aelita with the Galaxy All-Star Orchestra on Tuesday, September 15, in Yonge-Dundas Square.

Cadillac People's Choice Award