“Volcano”, Roman Bondarchuk, Ukraine-Germany-Monaco, 2017
Roman Bondarchuk (born in Kherson, January 14, 1982) is one of the best local documentary directors. His full-length works “Ukrainian Sheriffs” and “Dixieland” have won numerous awards in Ukraine and abroad. In general, his portfolio consists of almost 20 works.
However, the “Volcano”, for him, is an entrance to the new territory of Live action.
Protagonist’s name is Lucas. He works as an interpreter at the OSCE office in Kyiv. As part of a monitoring mission, he goes to the border with Crimea. And then, among the sun-scorched Kherson plains, his adventures begin to be more and more bizarre and dangerous.
Bondarchuk feels the texture of his historical homeland really good. Most of his films are set there. This time, he depicts these coastal steppes as a space of lawlessness. And here not only the state laws but also the physical ones, are not applicable. At a certain moment strange things begin to appear: doppelganger, ghostly buoys and even a ghostly choir, which for a long time already should have gone.
This truly fantastic realism somehow suffers from the lack of the plot’s integrity, but Bondarchuk compensates for it with the visual richness of the shot. This is just a very beautiful film, a true poem in honor of those distant and mysterious edges where you can get lost or you find the real you.
“Delta”, Oleksandr Techynskyi, Ukraine-Germany, National Competition. Feature-length
Documentary director Oleksandr Techynskyi (born in 1979, Dnipropetrovsk) debuted in 2013 with a witty short film “Sirs and Misters” shot in Uman during the Hasidic pilgrimage. The following year Oleksandr together with Aleksey Solodunov and Dmitry Stoykov became a co-author of the full-length picture “All Things Ablaze” devoted to the Maidan. It won the MDR-Filmpreis award for the best East European film at the DOK Leipzig festival (Germany). The world premiere of the new work of Techynskyi “Delta” also took place in Leipzig, where a Ukrainian director was also got an honorary mention from a jury.
The action unfolds in the town of Vilkov in the Danube Delta. Heroes live, work and die on the water. A camera with hypnotic persuasiveness flies over a river or through a fog follows the Vilkov men in their everyday life. Techynskyi carefully reveals the nature of bright and coarse characters. He paints them in the landscapes, reproduced in the best traditions of the Flemish Renaissance. Also, he doesn’t forget about religious motifs, about this everyday mysticism, which adds a metaphysical dimension to everything that is happening. The combination of visual perfection with a meaning saturation allows us to call “Delta” an extraordinary event for Ukrainian cinema.
Donbass, Sergei Loznitsa, Ukraine-Germany-Netherlands-France-Romania, Festival of Festivals, 2018
“Donbass” for Loznitsa is a rather unusual work.
Firstly, here substantially ironic mood prevails here. Previous Live action plots of this director turned into some kind of journey into the heart of darkness, so this is really a new coat of intonation. Secondly, the structure is fragmented: 13 parts without any protagonist, they mainly depict the life of “Novorossiya”. It can be confusing. But Donbass is only partly about Novorossiya and war. In the first place, it’s about what is now called the post-truth.
Loznitsa slowly, in every detail unfolds in front of us a picture of manipulation, with the help of which “Russian world” asserts its hegemony. Right from the first episode, where the actors are doing makeup in order to look like an “ordinary people”, and then act as a “bystanders” of staged shelling.
Further, the level of lies only grows. More and more it contrasts with the suffering of ordinary people. Citizens are hiding from the shellings in basements. A businessman is insolently plundered by the new “power”. Ukrainian prisoner is lynched just outdoors. Here, the protagonist and at the same time the antagonist is the camera. For the sake of convincing propaganda, any sacrifices, including the human ones, are made.
Loznitsa spares no satirical colors. Quite Gogol-like he depicts wild “Novorossiya” customs. In the end, we have ridiculous, terrible and accurate tragicomedy of reality, in which the truth was canceled as an unnecessary item.
“I came to the cinema from circus”, creative meeting with Denis Lavant
In the festival center “Rodina” there was a creative meeting of the cult actor with journalists and spectators. Among the other things, the actor told us about who influenced his development as an actor.
– I was influenced by Harold Lloyd, and especially by Charlie Chaplin. Today, I’ve bought on the market (Privoz – note of the author) Charlie’s portrait and was very happy about it. When I was a kid, I was fond of his films, because I felt his childishness. His character is carefree, hilarious, does what he wants. He may come to an appointment and put his legs on the neighbor’s knees. When I saw this character, I thought that I want to be like him. And then I realized that for being like him I have to become an actor. So I’ve started to joke, fall down, perform various acrobatic pieces. In fact, I’ve entered the cinema after the circus school. At first, I expressed myself through acrobatics and pantomime and only then I found the way to do it through a word. However, the first was still pantomime.
Photo: oiff.com.uaDirector of the movie “Mister Lonely” (2007 – note of the author) Harmony Korine invited me to play Chaplin’s lookalike. When the casting started, the director immediately realized that he wanted to see me. The task had one difficulty, I had to act in English, and I absolutely don’t know it, so I had to pass a few language courses. When I’ve started preparing for a role, I decided that I wouldn’t watch all the films with Charlie and wouldn’t simulate him. Instead, I’ve started to look for the things I have in common with him. It was obvious: I was so into the Chaplin’s character, his gestures, behavior and facial expressions that really, I am this Sharlo. When I was wearing an appropriate hat and moreover, had a little mustache, my friends often told me that I’m indistinguishable: I’m also small, funny and not very attentive.
Chaplin impressed me the same way the poems of Arthur Rimbaud had done it. All such people have made a huge mark on my life. For me, artists are children and very curious ones. They collect information from around the outside world. Rimbaud, Vysotsky, Chaplin… They’re always with me. They are my friends. They’re not teachers or gurus, but friends.
About the meeting with Lavant, you can also read at the official website of OIFF.
Text by Kostyantyn Levin and Svitlana Bondar