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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

Călin Boto is a Romanian emergent film critic and the editor-in-chief of Film Menu, a film magazine edited by students of the Film University in National University of Film and Drama in Bucharest (UNATC). He has written articles for several cultural publications such as Dilema Veche,Dissolved Magazine, SUB25 and he coordinates Film Menu’s weekly cineclub. At the moment he’s working on a bachelor's degree on the films and film criticism of Jonas Mekas.

Barbara Majsa was born and raised in Hungary, but currently resides in Sweden and attends Stockholm University for Cinema Studies. She has worked as a journalist since 2009, and has covered several film festivals. Barbara is the managing editor at Cinema Scandinavia, where she interviews film-makers and focuses her work on artistic and cultural products that reflect upon society - films concerning social, societal, economic and political issues.

Yulia Kuzischina is a film journalist, based in Moscow. She studied visual culture at Higher School of Economics and later started to write for two film-related websites, RussoRosso and Kinomania.ru. Currently she also works at a film sales company Ant!pode Sales & Distribution. Her main field of interest is Eastern European cinema.

Tomáš Hudák  is a programmer and a film critic based in Bratislava, Slovakia. Programming at independent cultural centre A4 – Space for contemporary culture, which focus on challenging and experimental art, is his main occupation throughout a year. He is also associated with IFF Cinematik in Pieštany, Bratislava IFF, and Film Festival 4 Elements in Banská Štiavnica. Regularly writing for film magazine Kinečko, his texts also appeared in other publications such as Senses of Cinema, Tess Magazine etc. In past, he worked as a film archivist at Slovak Film Institute and his archival research resulted in two papers on local film history.

Daria Badior is a film critic and a Culture Editor of LB.ua, one of Ukraine’s biggest online newspapers. Focuses on writing about contemporary Ukrainian cinema. Also she co-curates a project on LB.ua named Short-list about young Ukrainian filmmakers. Since 2017 takes part
in selecting films for Kyiv Film Critics Week, a new film festival held at the end of October. A member of FIPRESCI.

Łukasz Mańkowski Half of the Asian Cinema focused blog ‘Referat Filmowy’, Japanese Studies and Film Theory graduate from Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń, specializing in Asian Film. Occasionally photographer, translator and theatre-film journalist who simply loves ramen. Previously member of 5 Flavours Film Festival People’s Jury, FEFF Udine Student Campus and EIFF Student Critics Competition.

TUTORS of FIPRESCI Young Critics Warsaw Project

Yoana Pavlova is a Bulgarian writer, researcher, and programmer currently based in Paris.Her field of work includes cinema, VR, digital culture, and the New East. She is the foundingeditor of Festivalists.com (a playform for experimental media criticism), with bylines fornumerous print and online publications in Bulgarian, English, and French. Contributor to thefollowing books: Cinemas of Paris (2016, St Andrews Film Studies), Eastern Promises (2014,Festival Internacional de Cine de Donostia – San Sebastián), The Bulgarian Nouvelle Vague(2012, Edno).

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