Film Title: Dmitri Goes South
Category: Drama/Comedy
Country of Origin: USA

Tagline: Dmitri, reluctant enforcer for the Brighton Beach Russian mob, takes off on a boat with a hostage who is a witness against his powerful kingpen boss in a life or death bid to gain his freedom from his Russian mob family when he encounters a powerful storm and ends up stranded on a remote island off North Carolina where he meets the headstrong daughter of a fisherman who makes him question everything in his life.

Previous Awards:
– TMFF Finalist – Glasgow, Scotland, 2015
– Finow International Film and Screenplay Festival – Berlin, Germany, 2016 Finalist


Synopsis: “Dmitri Goes South” is a story of Russian immigrants in America. It is a story of self-discovery, of a man, Dmitri, who sees no way out of a violent, dead-end life for himself in the Russian mob.  After finally falling into the pits of despair, an opportunity presents itself to gain his freedom and finally live the life that Dmitri has only dreamed of and emerge a wholly-different man who has transcended his circumstances, leaving his violent past behind and finding an inner peace which we are all searching.

Dmitri and his brother, Vasilii, are low level enforcers for the very violent Russian Mob in today’s Brighton Beach.  They did not choose this life, they were born into it. As the story opens, they are chasing Pyotr, a mob accountant, through the backstreets of Coney Island. Pyotr is privy to entirely too much information as the accountant for their boss, Yuri, who is facing federal RICO charges as well as being implicated in murder-for-hire plots. Yuri has instructed the brothers to take care of Pyotr prior to the accountant’s Grand Jury testimony.

When they finally catch up to Pyotr on a brownstone rooftop, they cut off a finger to scare him into dummying up on the witness stand. Dmitri feels trapped in the situation; he doesn’t want to be a gangster but Yuri paid for his father’s move from Russia to America and Dmitri is obliged to pay the debt back after his father’s death.

This violence does not satisfy Yuri. He is furious that Dmitri and Vasilii did not kill Pyotr and only maimed him. Yuri insists that Dmitri finish the job leaving no loose ends. Later that day, after digging a grave in a vacant lot near the iconic parachute drop in Coney Island, Dmitri realizes he simply can no longer continue to follow orders blindly. He unties a hogtied Pyotr and sets him free admonishing him to leave town forever and never return.

Three months later, during a meeting, Yuri is enraged. He suddenly takes a pneumatic nail gun and pins brother Vasilii’s hand to the side of a building. Dmitri cannot understand this irrationality, even from Yuri. When Yuri’s goons exit the building and drop a garbage bag at the feet of Dmitri, Pyotr’s head rolls across the deck. Dmitri’s act of kindness has been found out.

Yuri gives the brothers one last chance to redeem themselves and tasks them with killing the accountant’s partner, Aleksey. Yuri is merciless and again insists on absolutely no loose ends that could tie him to any illegal activities, even a partner of his accountant who may have no information whatsoever. Dmitri and Vasilii are instructed to take Aleksey out on Yuri’s boat and dump his body in pieces into the Atlantic Ocean. After several protestations from Dmitri, Yuri threatens him insisting that his orders be followed to the tee. Immediately. Dmitri maneuvers the speed boat through the canals of Staten Island which lead to Raritan Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. Vasilii overdoses on some Oxycontin he received at the emergency room for his hand and passes out below deck. It is now only Dmitri and Aleksey motoring into the Atlantic.

As rays of sunlight creep over the horizon, Dmitri sees a sign for the Intracoastal Waterway, the Nautical Highway from Maine to Miami. Deep in thought, Dmitri idles the boat as he scans an Atlas. In a spur of the moment decision, Dmitri decides not to kill Aleksey but instead use him as a hostage and take the boat down to Miami and go on the run escaping his life in the Russian Mob. Dmitri blackmails Yuri into giving he and his brother their freedom using Aleksey as the bait. Yuri is apoplectic.

En route to Miami, a freakish storm comes up out of nowhere and overtakes the boat. After losing the engine, the boat goes down in treacherous, whitecapped waves and all is lost.

Dmitri, on the edge of death and still groggy, wakes on the shores of an empty, deserted beach. Two women prod him with a piece of driftwood to see if he is alive. Choking up even more seawater, he passes out yet again.

Later, Dmitri wakes on the screen porch of a beach cottage. He sees his brother Vasilii and Aleksey passed out on daybeds across the space. The two sisters, Ava and Margarite (nine months pregnant) tend to them. Ava is unsure of Dmitri’s story; something is not adding up. She takes her young daughter, Clara, into the cottage for lunch. Ava informs Dmitri that they are stuck on Sito Island and it will take at least two hours to get back to the mainland by boat. Her father, Carlton, arrives home from his daily shrimp haul and shows Dmitri the damage to his boat. Carlton believes he can repair the boat in a few days.

The next morning, Ava takes Dmitri and Aleksey on a tour around the small island on her way to her job. She is the lone schoolteacher in a one room schoolhouse. Ava tricks Dmitri into talking about his Russian background to the class. They also have a run-in with Burt, Ava’s ex-husband and Clara’s father.

Vasilii is furious that Dmitri has threatened Yuri and made this decision while he was passed out on copious amounts of Oxycontin. He likes his life in the Brighton Beach mob. While Aleksey and Dmitri are at the school, Vasilii uses Margarite’s cellphone to call Yuri and tell him that they have washed up on Sito Island and he wants to come home. Yuri quickly agrees and lets Vasilii know all is forgiven. Yuri then orders a private jet to fly South to exact his revenge.

Yuri arrives at the airport on the mainland. He and his henchmen rent a speedboat and head for Sito Island. Meanwhile, Margarite and Aleksey
grow closer and he finally tells her the truth of his situation: he is Dmitri’s hostage. Margarite is in shock realizing that Dmitri and Vasilii are actually Russian mobsters. Aleksey asks Margarite to get him off the island before they kill him as a trade off to Yuri.

Vasilii and Dmitri continue to debate whether or not to kill Aleksey. Dmitri is opposed but Vasilii thinks it’s the only way to truly get back into Yuri’s good graces. Frustrated, Vasilii grabs a fishing knife determined to attack Aleksey but Dmitri stops him just in time.  That night, Dmitri, Vasilii and Aleksey are forced to attend a celebration of the Harvest Moon on the beach with Ava and Margarite in order to keep up appearances so that no one thinks anything untoward has happened to the sisters. Ava and Dmitri bond and eventually dance together. Burt grows upset at Ava for talking to another man. Vasilii gets sick of the party and leaves alone, letting Aleksey stay and dance with Margarite.

Ava panics that she is falling for Dmitri and runs frightened from the party. Dmitri follows her out onto the beach where Ava confesses to Dmitri that Margarite has told her the whole story about Aleksey and Dmitri’s connection to the Russian mob. She cannot become involved with a mobster, whatever her feelings for Dmitri.
Meanwhile, Yuri has secretly arrived on the island. His henchmen find Vasilii walking drunkenly back to Ava’s cottage alone in the darkness and they shoot him, leaving him for dead on a sand dune. At the same time, after a heart-to-heart, Dmitri and Ava sleep together on another sand dune. The next morning, Dmitri and Ava return to the cottage and discover that Margarite, Aleksey, and Vasilii are all missing.

As Margarite is goes into labor, Dmitri has a stand-off with Yuri, who threatens Margarite and her newborn baby. Yuri callously shoots Dmitri and exits.
Yuri takes Aleksey hostage leading him violently back to his boat and a certain death. Dmitri, shot in the shoulder, struggles to follow. While trying to cross the inlet on a dangerous and ever shifting sandbar that is overtaken by the surging ocean in minutes, Yuri is stopped in his tracks. He is overcome by the high tide and in seconds, it appears that Yuri drowns.

Aleksey and Dmitri must now swim back to shore through the treacherous water or face certain drowning. As they prepare to swim, they are saved at the last minute by a fisherman in a Boston Whaler.

Relaxing after near certain death, Aleksey and Dmitri lay back in the boat. Like Rasputin, from out of nowhere, Yuri pops out of the water and grabs Dmitri in a choke hold. With extraordinary strength, Yuri pulls Dmitri over the edge trying to drown him. Half in and half out of the Boston Whaler, Dmitri is losing consciousness when, in a last ditch effort, he finds a grappling hook in the boat, swings it wildly over his head and manages to impale Yuri. Yuri’s body floats away in the Gulf Stream and the nightmare is finally over.

The two brothers return to Brighton Beach to recover from their injuries. Dmitri now drives a cab but his life is empty. Vasilii tries to talk Dmitri into opening a betting parlor but Dmitri will have none of it. He knows that it will lead to more crime, violence and death. He did not go to such great lengths to return to what he had before. In a dramatic turn of events, Dmitri struggles to get through to Vasilii that he cannot protect him any longer. Dmitri realizes he will probably never sees his little brother again but knows that he must find a new life away from Brighton Beach and his past.

Dmitri returns to Sito Island, where he is reunited with Ava, becomes a father to Clara and discovers the second chance at a life that he could only dream about.