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Trailer Watch: Jessica Oreck’s One Man Dies a Million Times

Jessica Oreck’s One Man Dies a Million Times premiered at SXSW 2019 but is only now about to enter theatrical release. That’s because Oreck—an adventurous, hybrid nonfiction filmmaker whose previous work includes The Vanquishing of the Witch Baba Yaga and and Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo—intended for the film to only be seen in theaters beginning in May 2020, a plan delayed by the pandemic. The film continues Oreck’s longstanding professional collaboration with Sean Price Williams (Good Time, Frownland), while programmer Eric Allen Hatch (who’s written for Filmmaker before) is acting as the film’s distributor. From the press release:

Alyssa (Alyssa Lozovskaya, of Russian TV’s Shameless) and Maksim (Maksim Blinov of Masterskaya Theater in St. Petersburg) both work at the Institute of Plant Genetic Resources in the center of the city. The Institute houses the world’s first seed bank—an irreplaceable trove of living genetic diversity which holds the potential to transform modern agriculture.

The two young botanists fall in love as the world wages war around them. A record-breaking, desperate winter sets in and the city slowly, painfully, begins to starve to death. Savagery transplants civility. Maksim and Alyssa defend the seed bank and its priceless collection of edible specimens from the starving masses of the city, the enemy, hordes of rats, and each other.

Part documentary, part legend, One Man Dies a Million Times is the true story of the seed bank and the botanists who worked there throughout the Siege of Leningrad (1941–1944). Though the characters portrayed in this film actually lived, and the events they experienced actually happened, this is not a reenactment.

One Man Dies a Million Times begins its theatrical run July 29 at New York’s IFC Center, with a full retrospective of Oreck’s documentaries to date coming to the Criterion Channel on August 1. Click here to read about Oreck’s unusual museum, the Office of Collecting and Design, in Las Vegas.

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