One Man Dies a Million Times
2019, 95 minutes, Digital
Language: Russian with English subtitles
Presented by: Jessica Oreck
Director: Jessica Oreck
Cast: Alyssa Lozovskaya, Maksim Blinov, Vladimir Koshevoy, Alena Artemova, and Konstantin Malyshev
Jessica makes projects large and small that hope to re-inspire a sense of wonder about the world of the everyday. She’s made a few features (Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo, Aatsinki: The Story of Arctic Cowboys, and The Vanquishing of the Witch Baba Yaga), two animated series for TED, and several series for a soon-to-launch online educational children’s network. One Man Dies a Million Times is Jessica’s first fiction film.
Writer/Director Jessica Oreck’s powerful first work of fiction follows two botanists operating in earnest to protect a Russian seed bank that holds within it the only assurance of the country’s ongoing food supply. The story takes place in the future, but recounts the lives of those working at the N. I. Vavilov Institute of Plant Genetic Resources during the Siege of Leningrad. Maksim and Alyssa work at the seed bank and vow to defend the consumable and nourishing specimens from animals, starving citizens, and themselves. Things escalate quickly in war-torn Russia as their city is cut off from food, electricity, and supplies in the dead of winter. The people around them grow increasingly desperate, as Alyssa and Maksim struggle against their own temptations to not only keep their promise, but to survive.
Climates have shifted, entire ecosystems have disappeared, Terminator seeds are a thing now and subsequently countless species of plants no longer exist. The preservation of genetic diversity is even more relevant today than it was during WWII. With increasing populations and food shortages around the globe, the seed bank as vessel for preserving genetic diversity is even more pertinent in our current state. Oreck’s filmmaking telegraphs that message to our future selves from the ongoing struggle of conscientious warriors like Maksim and Alyssa. One Man Dies A Million Times immerses the audience in the burden of their temptation to sustain their own health by consuming the precious vegetation and their painful deterioration as they continually deny their own well-being for benefit of the whole. These true eco-warrior botanists show tremendous courage when faced with an onslaught of obstacles and immense loss proving yet again the adage, “not all heroes wear capes.” Some heroes endure their own peril to collect a bunch of seeds so that future generations may be afforded the opportunity to avoid famine. (Anna Hanson)
South by Southwest Film Festival
Maryland Film Festival