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Interview with Igor Minaiev - The Cacophony of Donbas

FIPRESCI Warsaw Critics Project 2018 2018-10-29

We are at the 34th edition of Warsaw Film Festival with Igor Minaiev, the director of The Cacophony of Donbas.

Călin Boto: Your film is a brief deconstruction of the Soviet propagandistic discourse regarding the Donbas miners. How did you get the idea for such a specific project?
Igor Minaiev: It started with the story of Iryna Dovgan. She took part in the film. I saw a video of her on Youtube, and it was horrifying. On Ukrainian Independence Day (August 24th) she was tied to a pole, beaten and tortured. It was shocking. She was saved by a journalist. It’s an inhuman story. And I thought I should say something about that. It was the main motivation for the film.

Călin Boto: What are the sources for all the footage you use?
Igor Minaiev: We had different sources. We worked in the archives – the Pshenichny one, for example, which is the biggest photo/video archive in Ukraine. I had also interviewed people who left Donbas, and included that in the film.

Călin Boto: There is a chronological gap in the film, namely between the 1950s and the 1980s. What happened with Soviet propaganda during that period?
Igor Minaiev: There is no big gap in the film. I show Soviet propaganda from its beginning – with Symphony of Donbas in the early 1930s and until 1989. We followed it chronologically. Changes came with Perestroika, starting in 1989, when the truth began to appear on screens. All in all, Soviet propaganda didn’t change much from the 1930s until the late 1980s.

Călin Boto: Soviet propaganda is well documented, with a huge amount of audio-visual material. On what base have you selected yours?
Igor Minaiev:  I selected stories I was interested in, starting with specific topics. Some stories I remember from Soviet times, seeing them on TV. Some of them were ordered by Ministries - Healthcare, for example. Then we selected the most significant films, the ones with artistic value.

Călin Boto: Ukrainian cinema is showing a loud voice at the moment. Would you like to comment on the situation of Oleg Sentsov?
Igor Minaiev: Oleg Sentsov’s situation is horrifying and unbelievable. He was wrongly accused and sentenced to 20 years of prison. This sentence is against any law. A couple of years ago, when Oleg was still only detained, people at the University of Paris held a protest in his support. I thought the best I could do was to translate his play Numbers into French. Later, Oleg made it into a screenplay and now there is a film in production. I read Numbers to the people in Paris so they could understand what sort of man he is, how he struggles. I hope he survives and gets out prison.

Călin Boto: What are your thoughts on found footage as a filmmaking form?
Igot Minaiev: I think that all the ways of making films are good, as long as you’re making a good film. It’s not important whether you use found footage, home videos, etc. - the most important thing is that you have something to say.

FIPRESCI Young Critics Warsaw Project

Lemana Filandra2Lemana Filandra is a writer and editor at "Klifhenger" (www.klifhenger.com), a site dedicated to movie analyses in Bosnian and English. She has been working as a freelance writer, a researcher, and a translator for the last three years. Currently, She is working on a PhD thesis in philosophy, focused on intersectional feminism and political implications of the concept of body. In the past she had different professional engagements at Sarajevo Film Festival, one of the most prominent European festivals. She also worked as a producer of a music video, a script supervisor and an assistant to a movie director.

Levan Tskhovrebadze2Levan Tskhovrebadze is a student of film studies in Ilia State University, Georgia. He has written and made other kind of journalistic content for Georgian outlets like Indigo, Cinemania.ge or Demo.ge. Recently he started working for Ilia State University online publication Cinexpress.iliauni.edu.ge where he writes reviews, articles and also translates some of the important articles or interviews about cinema into Georgian. He has covered few festivals as a film critic. He was doing video blogs for Berlin International Film Festival 2019th edition and has made some content at CinéDOC-Tbilisi and Batumi International Art-House Film Festival. Cinexpress is also the Ilia State University’s Film Club where he made public reports before screenings.

Oleksandra Povoroznyk2Oleksandra Povoroznyk is a film critic and journalist based in Kyiv, Ukraine. She is currently working for Vertigo.com.ua, one of the largest Ukrainian websites devoted to the film industry and entertainment in general. She is also the host of two podcasts about movies and TV.

Denisa Jašová2Denisa Jašová is a PhD student of Audiovisual Studies at Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava. As a Film Studies and Archival Science graduate, she specializes on archival research in film and TV history, especially on Czechoslovak amateur film and TV non-fiction programmes from 70s and 80s. She also works as a researcher for TV documentaries, as a librarian in the Central European House of Photography and as a talk show host in student radio talk show called Cinefil. She frequently writes for magazine Film.sk, IFF Cinematik Piešťany and her first paper about the history of Slovak amateur film will be released in October 2019 in Kino-Ikon magazine. She simply loves film archives.

Bogdan Balla2Bogdan Balla is a Romanian experimental film director and freelance film critic based in Bucharest. He studies film directing at the National University of Theatre and Film and writes for FILM MENU. Besides directing and producing his own films, he also works as an independent freelance film critic. He reads bell hooks and is passionate about queer cinema. He has a preference for working with archival footage for his films.

Svetlana Semenchuk2Svetlana Semenchuk is an author of such publications on cinema as “Seanse”, “The Art of Cinema”, “Cinema TV” and other. The author-composer of the books “S. M. Eisenstein: pro et contra: Sergey Eisenstein in national reflection: anthology” and “E. F. Bauer: pro et contra. Eugene Frantsevich Bauer in assessments of contemporaries, colleagues, researchers, film critics. Anthology”. Teacher of the St. Petersburg New Cinema School, and at the St. Petersburg State University of Cinema and Television.

TUTORS of FIPRESCI Young Critics Warsaw Project

amber wilkinson2Amber Wilkinson  is a journalist with more than 20 years experience. She is the co-founder and editorial director of UK-based website Eye For Film. Her byline has appeared in The Times, Daily Telegraph, Sydney Morning Herald and Filmmaker Magazine among others. She also contributes as a freelance film critic on BBC Radio Scotland. She has run several FIPRESCI young critics' workshops and mentored student critics at the Edinburgh International Film Festival in 2018 and 2019.

TommasoTommaso Tocci is based in Italy, where he works as a film critic and translator covering film festivals across Europe for international publications. He has also worked for Berlinale Talents and for the Edinburgh International Film Festival, and he currently serves as Co-Programmer for the Saas-Fee Film Festival in Switzerland.