Bitter Love

- CPH:Dox 2020 competition

Bitter Love

Category |Human Interest, Love, Romance, Social Issues
Year | 2020
Country | Sweden, Finland, Poland
Running time | 86’
Format | HD
Production | Ginestra Film AB, MADE, Ragusa Film
Director | Jerzy Sladkowski

We are on a Russian cruise ship, a floating microcosm of cheap luxury, where a large and varied gallery of passengers is drifting down the Volga. Most of them have their best years behind them, and they know it. But even the young aren't necessarily good at figuring out the workings of love and each other.

There is a fortune-teller on board, a true shrew who doesn't mince her words when her fellow passengers come to hear what the future will bring. As many other passengers, they board the ship with broken hearts and shattered illusions, but also hoping for a change into better, seeking peace and space to come into terms with meaning for their lives. What does fate have in store for them?

On a three-week cruise on the river Volga, passengers are looking for an escape from their lives, looking for change – and looking for love. This floating matchmaking agency has it all. There are tarot cards and spells. There’s piano playing and opera. There are gym classes on the deck. There are melancholy men with guitars and song lyrics scribbled in notebooks, there are torn photographs of bygone loves. There’s vodka, of course, lots of vodka.


"Bitter Love is a hopeful ode to the power of human contact."
- by Davide Abbatescianni, The Calvert Journal

" Bitter Love starts by promising an awful lot: new friends, “new partners in love” and plenty of balloons. All, and much more, apparently to be found on board...It might be precisely these promises that lure in its excited passengers, clearly more interested in finally figuring out their lives than enjoying a simple holiday, jumping into new relationships as soon as the cabins are open."
- by Marta Bałaga, Cineuropa

"What really underpins this masterly work is the presentation of humankind in all of its facets, whether they be hilarious, ludicrous, absurd, melancholic, comradely or just plain kind."
- by Nick Cunningham, Business Doc Europe

"Jerzy Sladowski hops on a Russian riverboat cruise and ends up with a hugely-engaging documentary"
- by Jonathan Romney, SCREENDAILY

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