Vitaly Kanevski spent eight years in a Soviet labor camp on unspecified charges, attended film school, and worked as a production assistant on many films. He based this, his first feature, on his own youth in Siberia during World War II. Made on a minuscule budget, it deservedly won the Camera d’Or for best first film at Cannes in 1990. Many critics have compared it to Truffaut’s The 400 Blows, and despite the grimness of the subject, accentuated by the murky black-and-white photography and the harshness of the setting (a Siberian mining town), Kanevski’s feeling for the boy hero (Pavel Nazarov) and his resourceful female pal (Dinara Drukarova) has a related sensitivity and freshness. The efforts of these children to cope with the horrors around them–the nearby POW camp, the black market, the omnipresent mud and cold–often make them more than simple victims (1990). A Chicago premiere. (Film Center, Art Institute, Columbus Drive at Jackson, Saturday, February 2, 4:00, and Sunday and Thursday, February 3 and 7, 7:45, 443-3737)