- August 21, 2013 2:00 PM
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One of the best films I saw at Locarno Film Festival this year was a mere 20 minutes long. Part of the Fuori concorso Shorts section, The Green Serpent: Of Vodka, Men and Distilled Dreams (a Swiss-Russian co-production) documents the merits and demerits that vodka holds for three Russian men -- actor Aleksandr Bashirov, poet Mstislav Biserov and physicist Nikolai Mikhailovich Budnev. Written, directed and co-produced by Benny Jaberg, the film had me in stitches as it repeatedly nailed, with both poignancy and hilarity, that relatable contradiction that follows an alcohol binge: emotional fragility and a sympathy for something as banal as a fluffy pet on the one hand, and a desire to see humankind annihilated on the other. Receiving its world premiere at Locarno, Jaberg's film is also a coincidental ode to the recently deceased Russian filmmaker Alexey Balabanov, whose last film Me Too (2012) also saw a trio of vodka-swilling men in a doomed pursuit of happiness.