Film Title: Dmitri Goes South
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.
– 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.