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The members of a Soviet cooperative have pooled their money to have a badly needed parking garage built. But it turns out that the garage will have four fewer spaces than planned. In brutal Soviet style, the four least-well connected members are evicted from the cooperative in a mock vote, losing their entire investment. But one member, Malayeva, does the unthinkable. As if taking on the entire corrupt Soviet system, she quixotically locks down the meeting room and throws away the key. Chaos reigns through the night until the privileged are forced to negotiate for the first time in their lives. A madcap, rollicking, biting satire that Brezhnev banned. Written by
Boris Shafir <firstname.lastname@example.org>, edited by Dean Meservy
A corporation-like cooperative, under the auspices of a research institute, is constructing car garages for its members, most of whom are research scientists at the institute. Suddenly, the government appropriates a portion of the construction site, so the cooperative cannot build as many garages as it planned -- which means that some members must go. The predictable happens -- the Board of Directors summarily expels the four weakest shareholders, who have no leverage in the institute's power structure.
Of course, the expelled kick and scream; of course, the rest of the members hurriedly grab their coats so as to leave as soon as possible the place of their shameful act. And then, an unexpected twist. One of the members -- who, incidentally, was not expelled -- raises her voice in protest of the Board action; when other shareholders refuse to heed her, she locks everyone in the conference room, hides the key, and vows not to let anyone out until the matter is resolved in an alternative way -- namely, by throwing dice. What results is a delightful mix of powerful social tensions, envy, resentment, gossip, herendous accusations of non-conformism, unabashed intimidation, veiled threats, and petty personal attacks -- all of which nearly erupts into violence when the Board and its supporters attempt to strip-search the dissident, believing the conference room key to be hidden on her body.
This situation is not unique to the Soviet reality. The movie shows the complex and treacherous balance of power in a small organization where high stakes are involved, as well as the weaknesses and pitfalls of corporate governance.
Even a person unacquainted with the Soviet wolrd, but familiar with the corporate culture and environment prone to cultivate the worst of human flaws, will appreciate this fine and subtle film.
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