Russian movie director, screenwriter for the featurette ‘You’re hiding something in your fist’ honored with the ‘For Beauty and Airiness of Life’ diploma by the jury of the International VGIK festival, Yana Skopina talked to Moskvaer about her cooperation with Fedor Bondarchuk, common illusions of wonderful cinematographic life and why Europeanization isn’t good for Russian art.
I was 11 when my family moved to Moscow from Almaty. My father was offered a job here, but except that we had no ideas about what was coming – just a foggy image of a new life.
From the very first view, Moscow seemed to be absolutely inexplicable. Later it turned out that it’s not just how it seemed, but actually how it really was.
Everything here is organized according to a centripetal principle – all resources are flocking to the capital. But for the same reason, the uncleanness flocks here as well, and you have to go through it in order to do something really worthwhile. Beyond Moscow there is much less of all these things and thanks to that, artists there get the possibility and space for the crystallization of pure creativity.
I do love Moscow. Sometimes I get tired, but overall, now I understand that I do not want to leave. Besides, I met people here with whom I am on the same route.
About VGIK and the illusion of omnipotence
There are two main stereotypes about VGIK. First is that it gives a ticket to a bright cinematographic life to all graduates, and second is that it’s almost impossible to get there.
Both are wrong. It’s not that hard to become a VGIK student, but also you won’t get a cloudless life thanks to that. People, and mostly those who live in other cities besides Moscow, surrounded this university with the illusion of omnipotence. So for most of the people who work or dream of working in the cinematography sphere, VGIK is a temple.
What’s interesting is, from just setting foot on the threshold of that temple, students would immediately relax and stop doing anything intelligible. Not all of them, of course, but many. Therefore, some bitter struggle within these walls is not particularly noticeable.
The local rivalry often comes down to a cooperation, and that fits the workshops format. I believe this is the best soil for art, when artists learn from each other, work together, spy on a neighbor and try to come up with something of their own. Mikhail Romm also taught this way, and he passed his teachings down to almost all the directors who worked during the Soviet Union: Tarkovsky, Shukshin, Konchalovsky, Mitta, Solovyov, Abdrashitov, Danelia, Chuhraj and many more.
About working with Fedor Bondarchuk
I was going to make a movie together with Fedor. A long time passed, but for different reasons that didn’t happen. But I still got something useful thanks to that unimplemented project: awareness that we do have an entertaining film industry, but totally neglect the film arts industry. Cronyism inside the powerful entertaining film industry prevents us from going to a decent level of production. And at the same time, we don’t have a film arts industry.
Since producers are now at the helm, I think it would be worth it for them to learn screenwriting and directing also, so that they could understand at a professional level and, therefore, respect the authors of films. It is better to make adjustments based on creativity and not just based on a financial budget. Well, it also would be good to solve the distribution problem of so-called “non-commercial” movies. Indeed, in many cases, they are not so non-commercial. You just need to properly advertise and present it on the screen.
About the short movie ‘You’re hiding something in the fist’
On November 11 in Moscow at the House of Cinema we have arranged a showing of films by Sergei Solovyov’s workshop graduates where we’re going to present this work for the first time outside of the festival context. I personally feel like the movie consists of almost nothing… except this beauty and airiness, that was marked by the jury (thanks to them for this perfect wording – it became an integral part of the film description). This featurette by Yana Skopina received the Diploma from the Jury “For the beauty and airiness of life” at the 35th International VGIK Festival – Moskvaer
In general, we will feature four completely different movies in the show, and it’s a very interesting experience when the viewer feels quite different sensations during one session. It does not happen in a full-length viewing.
About the Europeanization of modern art
I am for the return to roots, to the powerful source, which we have. I am not for fanaticism and not for Stalinism. I am for cultural development that grows out of the knowledge of our own history and experience that you have to keep in mind, creating something new.
Previously Europeanization allowed you to be fed with the new, but now it has turned into erasing individuality.
About the influence of politics on art
If you go to the Tretyakov Gallery, the Russian Museum, or the Hermitage, you can easily see that art is related not to the political situation, but to the people living in a certain era. A human is a piece of art. He lives in the habitat, and the artist is observing him. Without policy. For me, that’s how it works.