Genna Meets Tolya

africans in russia

This image, that I like for Genna’s profile, comes from the scene where Genna first meets Tolya. Here the fighters feel each other out in the first round of their bout. As Tolya is significantly older we have a battle of young vs old, or experience vs naivety as well as black vs white, or us vs them. That a child is used as the point of entry into the discussion on racism should not be overlooked. Cuteness is an easy tool for generating sympathy. Like the Russian girls in the film who find Genna adorable, the viewer is encouraged to feel the same. Does it work?

Taking at face value that the film aims to raise awareness of racism in contemporary Russia. A contradiction arises in that Genna’s cuteness precludes him from being a serious subject. While the subject is not trivial, the main character is, and there is less of a compulsion to take racism seriously.