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It is Russia in 2007, exactly a year before the next presidential elections. The opposition is set to act decisively and to take power. Politics, however, serves only as the background for the main action, providing the environment in which the protagonists exist. The film is not about politics as such but rather about people in politics and politics in people. In its essence, this is a movie novel.
The two central figures, Anatoly and Andrei, are veteran revolutionaries. Since 1997 they are members of a banned political organisation.
Both represent the archetypical character from history, frequently portrayed in Russian literature of the 19th century: they are idealists who carry the virus of revolution.
The film’s action begins in early 2007 and ends a year later, after the presidential elections. For the central figures of the film, this is the year of challenge and the start of a new life.
divedivedive had some questions about the challenges of making such a film. The director Aliona Polunina had this to say:
Well generally I do everything according to the principle, first get into the fight and then see. Especially if a situation tells you to act. Because I think, if there is a point then the risk is justified. And even if I didn’t have an intention to make an ‘activist movie’ I just had a wish to show human drama in the context of a political situation. But I of course realized that before the movie was finished I should be more careful. At first it meant that I shouldn’t tell anyone about what I’m filming, not that many people were involved in the film and what it was about. I didn’t explain some things even to the producers or very close colleagues. Some things about what I was filming existed only in my head. For everyone including the main protagonists there was their own version of why and how I was doing it. This kind of conspiratorial scheme was done in an atmosphere of forced paranoia. The most realistic hazard was probably that me or the camera crew could have our material and film equipment smashed or taken from us by the special purpose police unit (the Omon) during the Dissenters March.
In the case of me being accused of being a dissident, I had the recourse of saying I was making an artistic piece. We happily avoided any real inconveniences while filming and I think it was mainly thanks to my good planning and organization.
Who of us is being 100% real, no matter if we are on camera or not? And as for posing , it is a natural condition anyway, isn’t it? I think these kind of questions about protagonists behaving naturally on screen could be an idea from an audience used to seeing television documentaries where the people take the subject superficially. In a real documentary, which dives deeply into a subject, the posturing of the protagonists in the frame is the same as actors playing a part in a movie, it’s what it is. In this case doubting the sincerity of the protagonists does not make sense. In those scenes where you have a feeling of watching a fictional movie, as some people have remarked, the protagonists were in front of the camera during a real emotional situation, then it was a case of the protagonists leading their lives while I was trying to film them invisibly.There is no single staged or re-constructed scene in this film, everything is true.
There is a saying ‘curiosity killed the cat!’ If I am interested in something then I make a movie about it, if I am not interested, I don’t. In this case I was insanely interested. It was very important to make exactly this story. It had been on the periphery of my consciousness for a long time. I was thinking about and observing from a distance what was happening in the sphere of radical politics. Shots from 2003 which appear in the movie as flashbacks were taken from material in my short film ‘Yes Death’, which I filmed as my course work during studies in (Vysshie rezisserskie kursy) It was a film about underground politics at the time when they were not forbidden parties. In that movie it was very important that the emotional feeling of that underground was conveyed. There was no individual protagonist just a collective image. And this collective image of a radical force was finalized in the last scene by a National Bolshevik called Anatoly. Then in the Revolution That Wasn’t, he and his son became the main protagonists. A documentary maker is very lucky if in the material there is a time line and the possibility to follow the changes in personality, life and views of the characters.
The main characters are Anatoli and Andrey, they didn’t see the movie immediately as I did not have the possibility to show it to them, and I was really surprised when they did see it and they liked the movie. They understood everything correctly and were able to dis-associate themselves enough to not be angry at how they were portrayed during the more uncomfortable scenes. They are undoubtedly smart guys in this way. Regarding the reaction of other NBP members I don’t know and I don’t care.
I’d say it was mainly laughter through the tears.
For the moment there is no reason, or point, to talk about the influence of the nationalists shown in the film. This is because there is no influence. History however sometimes demonstrates some very unexpected and dramatic turns, I am not an oracle, I don’t know what will happen next.
Well these are all signs of an evolutionary struggle. Nothing is being made in white gloves, right? All the significant social changes involve violence on a larger or smaller scale, someone will always suffer.
This is just a philosophical joke, freedom is an inner condition of consciousness, so becoming immediately free due to a change in the political order is impossible. It is a genetic disposition, like the colour of ones eyes. Russians are not free, they are passive, this is our historical legacy. In my humble opinion I am not sure if we need democracy and ‘freedom’ according to foreign standards. Tsarism is the optimal model for Russia, something in this system suits us. For artists it is even better as the best art comes from the suppression of the people and the inner drives of resistance that this produces containing a shimmering underlying meaning.
I’d rather see the reason of any kind of mutiny being another rejection of pieces of plasma on the sun.
Unfortunately very few Russian people have seen this movie, a very small festival going public. It’s impossible to get TV screening time for this movie in Russia. Why? In Russian TV long ago there was a genre substitution, TV shows are called documentaries. It’s not even a question of ideological censorship, it’s a question of business, as a documentary movie is not profitable for the producers. Russians after Perestroika have forgotten the genre of the documentary. Accordingly the real documentary is not accepted by the TV establishment. It’s an old and sad situation. The same situation also exists with film distribution.
The premier of the movie in Russia was in December 2008, shown in Moscow at the opening of the art.doc festival. It’s a splendid festival and there are a lot of well known professional people behind this and the best documentaries of the year are being shown there. As for other festivals (Kinoteatr.doc – The Open Film Festival of CIS countries, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia) they accepted the movie into their programme and the film won some prizes. Other more cowardly soviet festivals did not show the movie, building instead a byzantine labyrinth of lame excuses to avoid screening the film . As one minor beaurocrat from the guild of unfictional movies said, ‘I don’t want tomorrow that I will be taken away by a black patrol wagon’. Funny Idiots, who needs you, I thought.
It’s hard to talk in such a general a way, the country is so big. I live in an outer space called ‘Moscow’ and it’s a separate country inside a country and inside of this exists my persona separated from everything in my own outer space. But I don’t think the situation is getting worse. We still have gas, oil, rusty aircraft and soporific fairytales coming from the TV for the electorate.
I know approximately. The main characters are doing the same as they were doing at the end of the movie. One is trying to fight, the other is studying in a seminary, the third is guarding the leader, a fourth is praying for their beloved Stalin. The coalition has been uniting, separating and flushing out infiltrators. They are planning to hunt a bear and already deciding which part of the beasts fur goes to who, before they even catch the bear.
There is nowhere it is broadcasted or distributed, it’s a dark corner where all the fringes are being herded.
Of course not. It’s a big mistake to suppose that a director who makes a movie about drug addiction has a syringe sticking out of his arm.
I would reformulate the question like this… “What are the projects which you are trying to work on but are on standby due to the lack of the necessary budget?” …but as all losers I look optimistically into the future.
Is life too serious to be taken seriously? Favourite animal is a dog, called Harry the Lurcher. Now somewhere in space.
Nice video. Also I Don’t think that to many of Russian need this revolution at all. We are to slow to DANCE.
here you go king, man