Our cinema cannot boast of many victories of this level. Locarno is among five most important film festivals of the world, and Ukrainian directors have never won there. Nuclear Waste is a story of a couple who works in the exclusion zone. The movie is part of the “Ukraine, Goodbye” cycle dedicated to the problems of emigration. The project is produced by Volodymyr Tykhy, Ihor Savychenko, and Denys Ivanov (Art House Traffic Company). The audience will see Nuclear Waste in October, at the Molodist Festival, and the screening will start in November.
Myroslav Slaboshpytsky was born in 1974 in Kyiv. He graduated from live action cinema department of the Kyiv-based Karpenko-Kary State Institute of Performing Arts. He has worked at Dovzhenko Studio in Kyiv and Lenfilm in Saint Petersburg. Myroslav authors screenplays to several TV movies and a number of prose works which have been published in various periodicals. For his screenplay Chornobyl Robinson he won a prize in the All-Ukrainian Competition of Novels and Screenplays “Coronation of the Word 2000.”
His debut work Horror took part in 27 festivals and 17 countries, and the short movies Diagnosis and Deafness vied in the competitions of the Berlin International Film Festival in 2009 and 2010, respectively. The movie Deafness has been screened overall in more than 20 international film festivals and has won an encouraging prize of the jury at the 14th International Short Film Festival in Winterthur (Switzerland) and jury diploma at the 13th International festival of Independent Films “Deboshirfilm – Pure Dreams” in Saint Petersburg (Russia).
The Day called Myroslav to ask him a few questions.
Mr. Slaboshpytsky, our congratulations on the victory.
Since nobody has seen your movie in Ukraine, could you please tell a few words about it? Why Chornobyl?
“When in the late 1990s I was working in the Chornobylinterinform Agency, a structural subdivision of the Ministry of Emergencies, I went many times to Chornobyl, and it produced a specific impression on me, which resulted in the screenplay Chornobyl Robinson. Hanna Chmil halted the screenplay with the words: ‘Anything but Chornobyl.’ Maybe this topic was a taboo in our country. But let’s be honest, On Saturday and the Land of Oblivion are Russian and Israeli movies, respectively, if one defines, like the whole world does it, by the citizenship of the director. Since I had visited the zone, including the dangerous areas, I thought I had the right to speak about it. Chornobyl Robinson won the Coronation of the Word Prize. Now I think it is morally obsolete, but the topic has not disappeared anywhere. At first I naively thought that I would be able to shoot a full-length movie at the Dovzhenko Studio. I said, ‘For the second time after Prayer for Hetman Mazepa Dovzhenko Studio’s movie will take part in an A category festival, if you allow me to shoot the way I like.’ Either they did not believe me, or something, but the cooperation was not successful. When I got an offer to make a short movie according to the program ‘Ukraine, Goodbye,’ I accepted it and after all fulfilled my promise, even more than that. And Dovzhenko Studio has not shot any films for an A category festivals, and for a B category either.”
Have you seen anything from Locarno competition program? What was the festival’s atmosphere on the whole?
“I came there on August 8, because the screening was the day after, at the end of the festival, so I managed to see only four movies, which were shown together with mine in the last competition block. I liked most of all an American director’s work, which resembled David Lynch’s films, but, unfortunately, it did not win any award. We made friends and though I had a flight in the morning, I talked about horror movies with him and his friends till 5 a.m., and our conversation was as follows: ‘Dude, have you seen this movie?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Oh, cool!’”
According to your observations, how much is the Chornobyl topic popular with the moviemakers in the world?
“Numerous movies were shot for the 25th anniversary of the disaster. Anyway, it is interesting, because Chornobyl is a unique shooting area. People are constantly shooting there something, from German TV series Polizeiruf 110 and American horror movie Return of the Living Dead-7. You simply turn the camera to the left – good, to the right – even better.”
Has the jury told you about the reasons for its decision?
“Before the awarding ceremony, when we were told that we were among the winners, we met with the jury. The head of the jury Mark Peploe (he wrote screenplays for Antonioni and Bertolucci’s movies) told me that my film won over the jury, because as you watch it you cannot understand till its last third part whether it is a feature movie or documentary.”
Is this a conscious emphasis on documentary part?
“I am moving instinctively. I don’t think the director should be a mathematician. The story should always be emotional and you should trust only your intuition. When you feel that you need to do it this way – good, you must do it this way, and the reasoning is the least important thing.”
What are your plans now?
“I am very much concerned about The Tribe, the movie I have been working on since 2010 with the assistance of Hubert Bals Fund. It is a part of the state program on production and distribution of the films for 2012-13. I really want to start the shooting this winter, if everything turns out right.”
So you are more in business, rather than festive mood?
“I feel stupefied, because I am in the midst of acclimatization process, and I should say clever things, but my head works very badly. I think tomorrow I will head out for the State Cinema Agency to find out what is going on. Besides, I need to accomplish some work for the Germans in a matter of eight days. So I am trying to figure out how to do all this and seeking inspiration.”