29-10-2018

Interview with Igor Minaiev - The Cacophony of Donbas

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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.