Director and organizer of the largest Russian documentary film festival “Artdocfest” Vitaly Mansky in recent years, often comes to Ukraine. The country in which he was born and spent his childhood, was for him now, decades later, a platform to search for their own identity.
Journey Mansky deep into his roots began in the spring of 2014, the beginning of the war in the East of Ukraine.
Just at that time the Director came back from North Korea, where they filmed his acclaimed picture “the sun”, and saw the impending war divided his Russian-Ukrainian family: a mother and aunt living in Lviv, stopped to chat with relatives living in Crimea and supported the annexation.
The Director decided to make his own family a set, and cold observer of a small inner war against a backdrop of great conflict.
And got to the point: in the movie “Family,” which goes to rent in Kiev, his family is a typical example of how a war between the countries broke thousands of relationships and shared Russians, Ukrainians and the whole world into different ideological camps.
“Apostrophe”: the film “Home” in the previous film about North Korea, I noticed that you have a very cold chamber. You shoot your own family like it’s something behind the glass. It is a conscious choice of such a method?
Vitaly Mansky: I do man, not very emotional. The word “cold” is not a very positive color, but have to agree with him.
This “emotionality”, I think, allows me to see the world and to offer the viewer a more detached view of events, in which the viewer can take in an individual order.
That is, when the author has a very strong, intense involvement, he leads his world where the viewer has no options, he must follow step for step. If it’s somewhere you’re not careful, you’ll drown.
I want to offer the viewer great freedom. I open the space in which he can enter and exist quite independently.
The picture of the “Family” makes different audiences, different reactions and even different conclusions. I have heard that some of the audience read the painting as a call to reconciliation.
I, as an author and even as a citizen, I believe that now is not the time for reconciliation. But as the author of the picture I don’t want their point of view to impose.
I want the viewer, upon entering the world in which my characters let, able for yourself to identify your own views about this issue.
— However, the picture is very well seen that the Ukrainian side is your family ready for a dialogue, they are trying to discuss something, to somehow make contact with the Pro-Russian Crimean party. But I feel that people are not ready. One of the characters from the Crimea didn’t even want to talk on Skype, and just sat there and listened. You understand why this is happening? Why with the Ukrainian side, and on the other not work?
— You know, there is such a thing: I specifically at some issues in the film do not give the answer, and now you ask them, and I have to say to that. But my goal is not to answer. My goal is that the viewer looked at the painting and found your personal answer.
In other words, it is not a question of spoilertv, it is a question of human freedom to have their point of view. And for me, it is fundamentally important.
— And it seemed to me that you took some away?
— I absolutely obviously took a certain direction. But why would I want to make a film in which I will insist on its position? What I was going to be different from the propagandist Dmitry Kiselev, who defends a different position, for example? I don’t want to drive these dances.
If I respect the person — in this case the viewer, if I trust him, I want to give him the right decision. And, by the way, again, as a result of watching the film is not always the viewer comes to the conclusion that I would like.
In General, roughly speaking, what is the difference of democracy from dictatorship? Democracy may assume inside ourselves and self-criticism, and self-denial. The dictatorship does not imply any other opinions, except as provided.
So I don’t want to be a dictator. At least in his films.
— And it was difficult even to begin this dialogue with the family? As you explained, why are you doing this?
— First of all, if you look at the picture, you can see that I have no dialogue with the family. And it was also a fundamental task is to not come for dialogue, and monologues.
I invited all, in fact, not even to speak, and to live a period of time in this film. Because, of course, I could very actively with someone, to agree and thus support his point of view, someone to argue with. But it would be a different picture I would like to remove.
So for me it was quite a difficult decision to after a very long break to meet with loved ones and not be able to them how to argue. Put the bottle on the table and talk.
It was important for me not to convince them, but just to give the opportunity to Express their point of view.
I went from Sevastopol, not argue. Without a dialogue. With the monologue. But the dialogue now occurs as a result of watching the film. People are watching and starts the dialogue. In this this may be hard, cold, but very important artistic technique of my movie.
— As for heroes, they are not worried about what they will Express its position that it would show Russia that there can be some consequences?
— First of all, nobody was happy that I came to make this film. In different ways, by the way, reasons. Not just political. All would like to participate in some more optimistic film.
If you want to be really primitive, all would gladly starred in the film about the wedding than about the funeral. Although both is present in our life.
Some tension was in Sevastopol. Relatives in Donetsk are generally strongly asked me not to come. And I formulate in the movie because I care about these comments is not to specify the axis coordinates, but also to bring a key to understanding particular episodes of the film.
— That person meant to you shooting this film? It was the search for identity?
Is a complex of sensations. First of all, I will outline a situation: I hadn’t planned to make this film. He was not I in the graph. Actually at the moment I’ve just arrived from North Korea and waited for another expedition, which later failed.
This movie was completely unplanned, but I realized that this is the moment when I have that story to go in.
In that moment, in the spring of 2014, we were on the verge of a possible large European, and possibly world war. If, then, slightly different circumstances, it is not known at all, as if we are now living in 2017, the year that would was world.
I understand my responsibility… for all his coldness, I felt the need to be in Ukraine at this moment. In the end, it turned into the beginning of the movie with an unknown ending.
In addition, the decision to withdraw the film was taken and even at the time of the decision to leave Russia. At least it was in the same day. And it’s all for me is not easy. Therefore, it is a very personal picture, it is connected with my individual experiences.
But you still changed their attitude towards their own identity? You are a Ukrainian or Russian you or you Lithuanian?
I — citizen of Lviv.
Very Lviv the answer. Why haven’t you moved to Lviv, for example? Ukraine as a whole?
— First of all, for me — forgive me for all the Ukrainians and, perhaps, rejoice Karpaty Lviv and Ukraine are not the same. Kiev I never thought of as part of their homeland. Lions — Yes. And Kiev, Minsk, Moscow — something Imperial, with wide avenues.
You’re asking a very personal question — why I did not go to Kiev? To go to Kiev for me would not be returning home. And to go to the city is such a gesture, as actionism. It would mean to abandon their professional activities? To be out of the industry?
What then distinguishes lions from Riga, where are you living?
— All brand. Riga — the capital of a European state with an existing industry, technical resources, institutions that support the development of the industry. Riga is integrated into the European community.
Working the last 30 years in co-production with European partners, I can continue this work. Go to the city, I drop out.
From the Russian space I fell, because he was accused of anti-state activities, was formally deprived of the support of Russia.
Coming to Lviv, I do not get into the industrial space of Ukrainian cinema and do not get in the European. Because Ukraine is not a part of Europe.
It would be a nice gesture for some news content literally a week to live. And then I start wandering to wander around the city and become at best a curiosity and at worst — in a crazy city.
— What has changed in your situation? You still come to Russia, trying to do something. What has changed since then, how did you decide to emigrate?
I’m going back to Russia exclusively for the preparation and holding of the festival “Artdocfest”, and the fact that I don’t live in Russia during the year, allows me to collect and accumulate the needed amount of energy, which is enough for fairly heavy work on breaking down walls, built in Russia.
For you as a documentarian, there is no problem that you are detached from the reality in which you lived and which drew your stories, inspiration? I remember we talked to film Director Alexander Sokurov two years ago. Was just at the end of 2014, when it was, probably, the maximum tension in the society. Of course, he is also talking about immigration (he then very sternly opposed mode) if he wants to leave. He said that, of course, difficult, but I can’t leave, because how can a documentarian to live without the environment, without the reality, which is, despite the fact that she’s so twisted and complicated?
I understand the issue is on the agenda. I still never got away from the umbilical cord, there is still some connection, but the problems probably will occur over time. First of all, it is necessary to keep abreast of, to understand what to do next.
On the other hand, I would not say that my paintings were based solely on some Russian literal. I shot in Cuba and in Korea and India. And addressed issues of differences of European civilization from the Russian the film “the Pipe”.
I think I’m not the classic Russian film Director, which, on the whole, Russian cinema, angled inward. I’m still deployed outside, and as if fuelled by the Russian tradition, a root system, I would consider more global issues, issues of a different order.
— There are some things that you already miss? The wide streets of Moscow or some landscapes from the heartland?
— Probably correct to say that there is, but to be honest, no. I’d rather not miss the wide streets or narrow lanes. But sometimes worry that they can come to friends for a holiday or to share with loved ones grief.
But on the other hand, if you consider my busy schedule the last 10-15 years, before I was in Moscow in the year have been from two to four months. The rest of the time I’m either shooting expeditions or festival trips, lectures and so on.
In General, a very tight schedule, so in some sense I’m used to that are not permanently in one place. So I moved to Riga, but what has changed for me globally? I changed suitcases in Moscow, now I change them in Riga.
— You are at the beginning of the conversation said that now is not the time for conciliation. Why?
Because reconciliation is not the world, in the sense that when there is a war, I don’t really understand what reconciliation or truce. People sit in the trenches, on the front line. Reconciliation is what? Today, we do not shoot? Today and tomorrow, do not shoot, and then shoot again? It is not very clear.
The world I see. But then again the world is consent. It’s either someone won, or came to some kind of agreement that both parties are satisfied. You explain to me what is the consent with the annexation of Crimea? This is when Ukraine says, “Well, Nevermind”?
— Some politicians we say so.
— Some politicians — is not the whole Ukraine.
Or imagine landed some purple men already on the other side, and Crimea again, to Ukraine. And the people who live there and don’t want to live in Ukraine, love Ukraine and do not consider themselves Ukrainians? In this situation I do not understand what a truce. Therefore, to call for, what I don’t understand, at least, unscrupulous.
— The question is not a formal ceasefire, and the question in a kind of dialogue between those people whom this war has divided us as your family. You imagine how to talk to two people who took two different ideologies, after this war is over?
Yes, but I imagine that German society has repented for what he did. And before repentance it took, to realize it is Impossible to imagine how much we still have to go before the start of the process of understanding and then the process of repentance.
I think I say some clear, simple things. But it would be like on a human level, there was a conflict between two people. Here is a man raped a woman and then says: “let’s talk. I just wanted and could not resist. Forget it. Let’s go have coffee”. So what? About this truce?
— TA a part of your family, which accepted the annexation of the Crimea and the Russian position, you have turned with them some dialogue?
— First of all, my family is the absolute model of society. If the company, nothing has changed, why should change in my family? Based on what assumptions?
— Based on maybe your desire to do so, so they tried again…
Why? Here just answer me as if I was interviewing you, why?
— To be family in the end.
Every day to invest in the Treasury of the conflict, but to be a family? If the husband no longer loves his wife or the wife no longer loves her husband, why live? You just have to divorce, to change the flat and disperse. Why hate each other? For what to come and see this hated you in the face, and even to lie with her in one bed?
— For us it is really very painful story. We are looking for answers until you find them.
— If only it were that simple, why even look? Then we would open up like in the tutorial, the last page, and it says twice two is four. And it’s not two and two is difficult, it is not amenable to any mathematical definitions.
Now there is Ukraine in the territory in which it exists, and it should fully focus on life in this area, in my family, which is not dumped, not cheated on, betrayed, nothing vile about you did.
This territory, this part of the family now have to think about the future. And she needs to heal so that those who you betrayed, dumped, cheated on, felt like a complete idiot.
And this, in my opinion, the only way to change something. And then they’ll come, say “I’m sorry us of assholes.” And maybe Ukraine will forgive them.