Berlin film festival: Germany had to answer for Russia

17 Feb 68-th Berlin film festival premiere of the film “Dovlatov” Alexey Herman-younger. The Director had to answer for modern Russia and Putin.


photo: Svetlana Khokhryakova

Milan Maric, who played Sergei Dovlatov in the new film by Alexei German.

Dovlatov at Hermann – a lyrical character, a kind of fantasy of what he could be in 1971. Family real Dovlatov him so took, was a joint with them the way from start to finish. Herman came from the fact that the iron curtain should be equal to the audience. He does not preach, not teach, but sits with us at table, drinks a bit, says something funny, in General, friend and companion. “In Russian literature Dovlatov – one of the few open and accessible authors. There is the famous phrase “a Poet in Russia is more than a poet”. So Dovlatov was nothing more than a poet. He was just a poet,” says Herman. He recalls a funny story about how there was a preparation for the painting, and had to convince the cinema Fund and the Ministry of culture that we need Dovlatov (nonsense but true). Conducted a survey of residents of St. Petersburg. The crew went into a cafe and asked the bartender: “do you Dovlatov?”. The led operator to the bathroom, took off his pants … and showed the tattoo on whole leg – colored, stunningly masculine and erotic Dovlatov. Here you have people’s love and unusual recipe of receiving funds from the film Foundation.

Dovlatov was born in 1941, in 1978 emigrated. We witness several days of his life in Leningrad. He is 30 years. In the yard -1971 year. Brodsky verge of leaving the USSR, never to return to his native city. Winter. Maybe the chill the autumn. Anyway, my daughter Dovlatov does not wear mittens, they hang on the elastic out of the sleeves. Her father, bareheaded, and he is not alone, although winter in Leningrad in those years was harsh. He’s trying to get the girls a doll, but where to get it in the country of empty shelves. Well at least was a brave Finnish girls, supplying forbidden goods of the inhabitants of the USSR (one of them played the daughter of Tykkylainen kersee, long who headed the Moscow film festival).

Dovlatov is working in the original paper, trying to do production reports, portraits of workers. It turns out badly. His prose is not published, in the writers ‘ Union does not accept, and family discord. In the starring 36-year-old Serbian actor Milan Maric, who came to Berlin to present the picture. In addition to the professional actors involved and non-professional actors from Russia and Poland. Herman too was fascinated by the search for non-standard persons as the collector, and in this sense continued the tradition of his father. Women he has, basically, not very nice. The best acting work of those to whom we have been accustomed to and sometimes do not wait. Dovlatov’s friend, the artist and the speculator, supplying Leningrad tights and other deficits, played by Danila Kozlovsky. He is a great actor of our cinema mercilessly exploits, imposing the same type of alien and flat role. Then he played something not glamorous, not a superhero, but a normal and living person of his era. Svetlana Khodchenkova starred in a small but expressive of the role of the former lover Dovlatov. Did it concisely and with restraint. Elena Lyadova blended into a dull editorial landscape of the ‘ 70s, revived his sincerity and a universal fatigue. Anton Shagin nervously played worker and poet, the lost character of Soviet times. Arthur Beschastnova in the role of Joseph Brodsky was complicated. If the Dovlatov many have a vague idea, something about the Nobel prize winner everybody knows something different. At Hermann, he doesn’t look ridiculous caricature, and that’s good. In the role of wife Dovlatov Elena – expressive Polish actress Helena Sujecka, again with non-standard beauty.

Actors looking for a long time, painfully, on the principle that the people were decent and bright personality. It was especially difficult with Dovlatov. What was needed was charismatic, sensitive person with a bright masculine, so that girl he was in love. Nothing of the kind in the limits of the Fatherland was not found. Had to surf the CIS and far abroad. The casting was conducted in Armenia, as Dovlatov is half Armenian and a Jew. As a result, two of the actors found in Serbia. They are well read Chekhov invited to audition in Russia. But one broke her leg and did not come. The second came and played Dovlatov. Alex Herman recalls that when Milan Maric walked in, it immediately became clear that it Dovlatov. Is that too skinny. There was another problem: Milan spoke no Russian. He lived in St. Petersburg, to inhale city air, captured his sadness, but at the same time gained weight. They say that now Milan dumplings can not look.

In Berlin Alexis Herman got tons of questions about modern Russia.

“There is a perception of Russia that there is the horror, the horror, as in North Korea, he replied. – My father, Alex Herman suffered. One of his films has been banned for several years. He hid filmogaphy his paintings under the bed, so it is not destroyed. Remember many people who were not allowed to work because they are Jews. Now in Russia there is no anti-Semitism. But I am concerned about Kirill Serebrennikov. I am his surety to the court. But Russia is not the Soviet Union. We have no such censorship, as in Soviet times. Otherwise there would be a movie, and we would have not met. No one is censored. In any case, for now. Nobody even asked for our movie. But some people are extremely right-wing, reactionaries, artists who are trying to impose your view of the world, I want to master the art. And such people becomes more and more. While they did not win, but they can.

Our film is that it is impossible to destroy men’s fate, not to give the artist the opportunity to be an artist. Brodsky and Dovlatov were not dissidents. They just wanted to work, and expelled them from the country. And now they put monuments. I admire the time and people, their courage and dedication. I don’t like this. I would be scared if I had 15 vessels. It was the last great surge in Russian art.

The West do not understand Russia and our device. Russian do not really understand the West. We have a lot of cliches. We do not know and away from each other. Someday it could end the war.

We are trying to save themselves, although it is harder every year. Everywhere censorship of money. We have people who want the art was beautiful, funny, positive. I don’t like. Our talented Directors are often forced to rent commercial projects of average quality, because they have nothing to eat and to feed children. It is a tragedy. The producers are offering only movies about vampires, and they love Chekhov, Shakespeare, and Joyce. But everywhere is probably going on. I don’t know, even in English, do not speak. I’m not on social networks. I’m an idiot. Sorry. It was difficult for producers to find money for a film about the writer. We have long intended, and I do not believe that we will. Without our Serbian and Polish comrades would not be anything.

In response to this speech well-known journalist with the African radio said: “We understand Russia, studied her. But we don’t understand Putin.”

The role Dovlatov Milan Maric admitted that it was his first major role and first international project: “We touch upon delicate themes – freedom, love, presence and lack of opportunity, unfulfilled desires, struggle with itself. Part in this painting challenge for me. I had to play a Russian writer of whom I’ve never heard of. Didn’t know which way to go. I live in Serbia. It is a southern country. We have a different mentality. I needed to understand the spirit of this Northern country. I never spoke Russian before. The script was difficult. But we showed courage. I didn’t know if I can handle that, can persevere until the end and really believe Alex. I was a stranger, a foreigner, but I helped the Director and Russian actors, thanks to them I’m not confused”.

We arrived to the festival Elena Lyadova and Danila Kozlovsky such problems were not. Elena was curious to dive into the world of Herman, “to be in his movie.” Daniel reminisced about working together 13 years ago. Now he, in his words, could become the conductor of the ‘ 70s, the time that knew mostly from books. He tried to banish the usual modern type, immersed in a truly documentary medium.

The script was written by Alexey Herman-younger, together with Julia Tupikina. The movie was shot Polish operator Lukasz Zal. The artistic Director was the wife of the Director Elena Trench. She was the costume designer, supervised the collection of items and clothing, which brought the inhabitants of St. Petersburg. As a result of her work there are two valuable collections of costume and household items of the Soviet era. Soon they will show themselves. Elena Trench recalls how the participants of mass scenes brought photos, archives, things. And the filmmakers of the documentary Wednesday tried to turn into a painting. Something the group did, and some don’t. It happens in theater and film, the paper looks like silk, and coarse cloth is velvet. The scenery was built in evicted houses. Was made Wallpaper of the time, crept the floors, picked up the tissue. Money for halls there.

The deceased Svetlana Karmalita, screenwriter, editor, mother of Alexei German – a well-known Soviet Leningrad, his spirit and life, help tips. At the stage of the shooting script, she asked her son: “Why no kitchen? We all gathered in the kitchen.” So appeared in the film kitchen. Much too rich, so sometimes the kitchen gets a parody element.

The filmmakers have done a lot of research work. The film will feature poetry Dovlatov, which I did not know before. Discovered and stories Brodsky. About his prose, few people know. “We have seen notebooks where the hand of Brodsky recorded, as I understand it, the phone Dovlatov” – says Alexey Herman.

Not only Dovlatov, but another Soviet writer Chingiz Aitmatov has aroused the interest of the festival audience. In the “Forum” showed a documentary picture, with poetic, referring to the Soviet prose – “Jamila” by Chingiz Aitmatov. The film is called “Jamila”, and shot him filmmaker Aminatou Echard from Marseille. On the screen sounds of Kyrgyz, Uzbek, Russian, English and French speech. In front of us – Kyrgyz women of all ages. They seemed to have come with impressionist paintings: from the 55-year-old mother of the family to the modern schoolgirl who dreams to travel, learn and explore the world. They all speak with the Director behind the camera – who is Russian, who is English, who in their native language. A teacher of Russian tells about his female share the roles of women in family and society, the relationship between daughter-in-law and mother-in-law. Then she thanked the Director for the rare opportunity to talk about important and intimate things. Such happiness is rare. Each of the characters trying to act Aitmatova. Jamila, a child was married. And then she ran away with the beloved man. Could they do that? Each of the characters answered that he could not, but admires the act of Jamila. A rare occasion when a literary hero, and in this case heroine, is perceived as if lives nearby. Women talk about their own life, proceeding from its destiny. We witness the ancient rite, when the face of a young girl’s closed and only close relatives can approach her, to lift her veil and kiss her. It tomorrow to be someone’s bride, to live under the yoke of the mother-in-law. Nothing seems to be changing, and Kyrgyzstan is perceived by the European audience as some of Mozambique. Coincidentally the film “Our madness” shown by session earlier. Black and white stylized picture was too beautiful and the pseudo-multivalued. It is also about modern women Mozambique, free and dependent, and is also produced in France. Peeling walls, the hospital, empty hallways, dreams and reality… Nothing to do with everyday life. Poetics on the ruins of life.

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Svetlana KHOKHRYAKOVA

Svetlana Khokhryakova

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