Synopsis by Mark Deming
A man who has sought both solace and punishment in faith is confronted by someone whose dilemma is greater than his own in this drama from Russian filmmaker Pavel Lounguine. During World War II, Anatoly (Pyotr Mamaonov) was a sailor in the Soviet Navy, and when his ship was captured by Nazis, Anatoly was given two choices by the German troops -- he could execute the captain of the ship himself and be allowed to live or refuse and be shot alongside him. Anatoly shot his captain, and has been paying penance for his crime from that day forward. After escaping from the Nazis, Anatoly was taken in by the monks at a nearby monastery, and he's been working there ever since, shoveling coal, performing backbreaking physical labor, and living like a hermit. Local reputation has it that Anatoly is a holy man with the power to work miracles and predict the future, but he's not to be approached casually -- Anatoly insists that his patrons turn over all their worldly possessions, no matter how meager, to God's servants before he is willing to intervene. But Anatoly faces a spiritual challenge he's not certain he can handle when an admiral (Yuri Kuznetsov) arrives with his daughter (Viktoria Isakova); he believes she has been possessed by the devil, and that Anatoly is the only one who can save her. Ostrov (aka The Island) received its North American premiere at the 2006 Toronto Film Festival.