Sergio and Sergei

Culture Film

A film about how technology brings us together

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There are many ways a person can become isolated. It can be through circumstances beyond their control, an active decision, or a complicated mix of the two. But through technology, like Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media platform, people have more opportunities to reach out and talk with people they normally wouldn’t talk to.

Such is the situation that Sergio and Sergei find themselves in the film Sergio and Sergei. Sergio is trapped in Cuba’s changing political climate, while Sergei is stuck in the Soviet Mir space station as the last Soviet citizen, watching as the USSR crumbles back on Planet Earth. Eventually, the two connect through a radio ham and become friends.

Sergio and Sergei is about friendship and how technology plays into that friendship. It’s a quiet movie that deals with people reaching out to each other in an effort to make the best out of an uncertain world.

The story is set in 1991. The USSR is disintegrating and Cuba has no ally. Sergio, a Cuban professor of Marxist philosophy, is forced to reconsider his beliefs as he struggles to feed his family with reduced pay under the new government. At the same time, stranded in space, Sergei learns that the country he left behind no longer exists. He longs to go back to his family but the return trip is repeatedly delayed due to funding cuts. While communicating with a friend in New York to check on the safety of some Cuban escapees, Sergio finds Sergei’s signal over the radio. They start communicating regularly, and find that they can be more honest with each other than with their own families, even. The two become close friends, despite never meeting face to face. As the unusual friendship blossoms, Cuban officials begin to listen in on the conversations, and suspect Sergio of coordinating an attack against Cuba. Meanwhile, the Mir Station begins to fall apart.

The movie takes its time showing both main characters’ daily routines and how their life situations mirror each other. In one scene, the sounds of the Mir station play as  Sergio rides his bike, after he learns that his job isn’t as secure as he thought. For Sergio, the radio serves as a break from the daily grind, a chance to escape for a little bit, especially after he starts talking with Sergei.

Not only is technology an escape from the world, but it can also facilitate connections with other people, and allows people to see the humanity in one another where they might not have otherwise. This is one of the greatest takeaways from the film.

Sergio and Sergei is a heartwarming story about the power of friendship to transcend distance, the power of the human spirit, and the kindness of people helping each other through difficult situations. This film played at Cinecenta in September, and was part of the 9th annual Latin American and Spanish Film Week. Although it’s not available in movie stores in Canada yet, it will be soon. Stay tuned!