The American film about Russian immigrants Giv Mi Liberty was released. The tape has already been shown at the Sundance Festival and as part of the “Two Weeks of Directors” in Cannes, where it deservedly received a ten-minute standing ovation. A nervous and cold movie in the genre of urban road movie unvarnished shows one day in the life of post-Soviet immigrants in Milwaukee. Three generations, each in their own way keeping their own Soviet Union, living on the other side of the ocean. But the director is so in love with his characters that instead of being annoyed by these imperfect and noisy people, viewers risk succumbing to their charm and start dreaming of a Green Card. Cinema poster: Info met with Kirill Mikhanovsky on the eve of the premiere of the film in Russia.
— When the information appeared on the network that the film “Giv Mi Liberty” will be released, I personally watched the debate and laughter in the tape about this localization of the name. “Giv mi liberty” can quite specifically be translated into literary Russian. Why did you agree to this version of the name? Did you like it?
Kirill Mikhanovsky: Yes. Highly. But the conversation was with the distributors as follows: your territory, you know better how to advertise a picture, so call it what you like. But, if you are interested in my opinion, it seems to me correct to leave “Giv Mi Liberty”, because, firstly, this quote is known from the political manifesto of Patrick Henry, and secondly, it has paint, it is impossible to translate this paint. And thirdly, Russian transliteration adds meaning, as if this phrase was uttered by immigrants: a classic quote pronounced almost in Russian — this has its own charm. This not only does not take away the meaning, but adds. Another thing is that with today's moods, for example, anti-American in Russia, this can be quite uncomfortable from a business point of view. Therefore, change as you wish. I can’t control everything. But A-One (film distributor in Russia, approx. Ed.) Are pretty competent guys, they left it like that, and I liked it. There was not even such a dialogue with the French, but they also decided to leave that name. It tastes good, congratulations.
— In general, we have not so many films about Russians in America without a comic connotation. But there is bright literature about a powerful wave of emigration. First of all, Dovlatov. How much was his referent for you when you collected your story, characters?
KM: Not at all. Dovlatov was not in my head at all. I love him very much, but he had no effect on me as a director. There was no conscious influence for sure.
— But at the same time, the oldest generation of immigrants in your film is the generation about which Dovlatov wrote.
KM: No, they came after. So if any coincidences occur, they happen by chance. Therefore, they are called “coincidences,” because there was no conscious borrowing on my part. But this does not deny the greatness of Dovlatov.
“It is all the more interesting why you now decided to speak on this subject.” In the wake of today's agenda, when does emigration seem ubiquitous? Or is it your personal, chamber excitement?
KM: I didn’t really raise any topics. I just ended up in Milwaukee at that moment in which I found myself in the situation in which I was. I looked around and realized: I need to make a movie here and now. I have a few stories from my past — this will be the starting points for the film, and went further. There was no ideology in this; there was no political calculation in this. Nothing. And all the hits in the present simply happened because they happened.
— Can you tell in percentage terms how much this story is personally yours, and how much is the fiction that you completed?
KM: 97% fiction. Maybe 99%. A few stories that were related to my personal experience driving a car, my grandfather — that's all. And everything else … even a can of cabbage in my experience was not.
— Here, by the way, a can of cabbage! (the hero of Maxim Stoyanov at the beginning of the film takes a can of sauerkraut from the grandfather’s house and can’t open half the film until the heroine Daria Ekamasova helps him). The same almost Tarantino reception … What does this jar mean?
KM: No, no, it means nothing. But if the audience will interpret, I will only be glad. The more versions, the better, I think. The more successful the picture, the more successful the work. We do not need any planes, there is no message in this picture. But let there be interpretations. A can is just a can, it has its own function: a person cannot open it from scene to scene, and then they open it with a girl. And they are together. Well, that’s it.
— This is quite romantic, especially when you consider that your characters are not too pretty for traditional American cinema. There is no such division, who is good, that looks good. But you have them … ordinary. Do not show off. Do not look attractive. But attract.
KM: I agree. I generally think that you need to create a work, understanding who you are writing about or who you are filming about. And the desire to understand should be a direct continuation of love. And not to love the characters, no matter how bad they may be, is almost impossible, impossible. Therefore, of course, they are all loved, but they are not perfect, they can make mistakes, they can be wrong. But there should be interest in them. So they are all beautiful, even when they are not doing the most beautiful things. But we do not have a genre movie, so that there are clearly defined heroes. This is what they call an author’s movie or an arthouse, although I don’t like the term “arthouse”, I don’t like it, I in no way want to belong to this category with my cinema. But, of course, authorship is definite: there is a view of the world, there is a philosophy, there is recognition of a certain style. And the component of this authorship is a look at the world of mine and my co-author of the script Alice Austin. We, with easy self-irony, I will say, are humanists, we love people, we love this world. Even when we laugh. Especially when we laugh. That is why we laugh, because we love him. And, of course, that's why there are no unloved characters in this film, and therefore there are no unsympathetic ones.
"Give Mi Liberty"
“You can see through the movie that you like them.” That's kind of annoying, but like. Especially the heroine Anna, who gave out orders to everyone in this minibus. Activist. I don’t want to meet such a person in the subway or minibus, she will enrage. But since you like her so much, then the degree of irritation when viewing is reduced.
KM: She really fell in love with herself all. Even those who did not understand Russian. Anna turned into such a mythological character. They were already afraid of Anna, but they were afraid with love. They understood that this lady, of course, would not let anyone down.
“Where did you find these beautiful people?” Are they professional actors?
KM: In the city of Milwaukee. They are all unprofessional actors, they have a theater troupe led by Anna Maltova. They themselves are from different cities: from Minsk, from Lviv, from Semipalatinsk, from Chisinau. They are representatives of different nationalities even: Western Ukrainians, there are Russians, Jews, of course. “Naturally”, because everyone came according to the Jewish program. However, this does not prevent them all from singing Jewish songs together. The accordion player Zinovy, he is from Western Ukraine, but, nevertheless, helps to create such a Soviet Union abroad. Such a Soviet Union after the Soviet Union is an amazing phenomenon. Here is the leader, Anna Maltova, a cultural worker from Belarus. She was a well-known important lady, and she moved her love of culture, songs, dances to the United States and created her own theater in Milwaukee, such a large theater with a small letter “Freilehs”. I made friends with them, followed them, probably for about three years, preparing for the shoot. And so it happened.
— It turned out — not the right word. These people, combined with the manner of filming your cameraman, sometimes made me think that I was watching a documentary. I can’t imagine how you can spell out this cacophony of dialogues in the “Soviet” dialect, play it from take to take …
KM: Much has actually been spelled out. Much was invented immediately before the filming and during filming. Much of what I heard from them became ours. Something was invented literally on the go — that is, it is a mixture of everything. The script was written in English, I did not write separately Russian things. But special leaflets were written, given to people, they remembered them wonderfully, added something from themselves during our short rehearsals a few minutes before the shooting.
— That is, in life they speak English better than you showed in the film?
KM: About the same. They don’t really speak English. They say something, but not really. They arrived already at a very mature age, they are already under 90 almost everything. They arrived at the age of 70, it is clear that at this age it is not very easy to learn a foreign language. Of course, they speak at some level, but not when they can easily improvise in English. This is an absolutely normal situation: the brain is not so fresh, it is not able to quickly perceive new things. It is not so easy.
— And the young actors? How did you explain to them what they are participating in?
KM: I did not explain what the picture was about. They read the script, we talked about some scenes. Everything. Why tell a man what the picture is about? A man in a scene should not play a picture, he should play a scene.
“But did they understand this clash with our retirees, traditions?”
KM: Not always. But this is not necessary. A spoon does not always need to know about food, about the taste of food. The bull does not need to know what he plows. The actors have their own tasks, and it is not necessary to narrow these tasks, to set a framework for them. They are certainly smart guys, but I do not have to explain the whole movie to them. Some scenes, some experiences, yes, we spoke. But the whole movie is not. This work, much is clarified, explained in the process.
— And the performer of the conditionally leading role, Vika, Chris Galust — is he Russian or not? Because if you do not peek at the Internet, but only listen when he switches from English to Russian in the film, it sounds clear, understandable, natural.
KM: He is an American of Russian descent. Soviet origin. His dad is Armenian, his mother is Ukrainian. His grandfather is Armenian, and his grandmother is Jewish of Georgian descent or Georgian of Jewish descent — I don’t know what is right. He is the result of international addition, but he is American. But he speaks only Russian, not Armenian, not Ukrainian. So if we talk about the culture of the language, we can say that he is an American of Russian origin. But for Americans, he is Russian, because they do not share. He speaks Russian, then Russian.
"Give Mi Liberty"
— So they didn’t play everything there, it turns out, but existed in something close to their ordinary life?
KM: No, Chris is just an actor. He did not have to play Russianness. You lose, work out situations of human relations and emotions — this is a game. And not that he is Russian. The same goes for Lauren "Lolo" Spencer. She is an unconditional actress. What she did in the frame is a genius acting. Not to mention Maxim Stoyanov. Outstanding Russian actor. I am surprised that he is not in great demand in Russia yet. I hope that now his star will rise. I want to talk about him separately.
— How difficult it was to get Maxim to speak this wrong English: solid Present Simple. After all, he does not say in life how his Dima is, right?
KM: He made this character like that. He himself speaks excellent English, now much better than before the film. An amazing story once happened to Kakha Kavsadze. They were looking for an actor who can ride a horse for the role of Abdullah in "The White Sun of the Desert." And he lied, and Vladimir Motyl made him sit on a horse, they say, show. He mounted his horse and rocked. Something similar happened with Stoyanov. The ingenious casting director of Moscow, Daria Korobova, we were looking for an actor for six months, we could not find, and she showed us Maxim, and we fell in love with him immediately, with this smile of Gagarin. Daria called him and asked: “Listen, Maxim, do you speak English?” “Yes, free!” She sent him a script, he ran that night to read the script with his friend, who translated everything to him, fell in love with the role absolutely . Somehow, he charm seven English-speaking producers, convinced that he speaks English, and that was on Skype. I was sitting nearby, I did not understand at all … Then, later, after about eight months, when he finally arrived, someone said to me: “Hear, he does not speak English at all. Absolutely! ”He convinced us all! By the power of charm, interjections, by some words that he picked up. He fully learned the movie Pulp Fiction, he learned the whole dialogue by ear. A person who grabs instantly and makes all things his own, in fact, he has such a brain. I can give him a page-length text in an unfamiliar language: English. He instantly did not just learn it, he made it his own, he began to speak intonationally, musically, as if it were his native language. Thank God I had three weeks with him. During these three weeks we went a very long way with him. This was the only actor with whom I worked for so long, really. Maxim speaks fluent Ukrainian, Romanian and Russian. That is, in fact, a very capable person. The brain is like a sponge. Absolute pitch. I grabbed the phrase instantly. I gave him blocks for shooting in seconds, I don’t understand how he bite into these blocks in the bestial way and made them his own, as if he had lived all his life with these words. There is a scene there, he made seven takes and everything was perfect, as he got on a pause, on intonation, all over. Americans wouldn’t do that! And, of course, he did a tremendous job between the day when he came to our site, came to prepare, and the end of the shoot, when a person already speaks English. People were shocked, they did not understand how a person went this way in a few weeks. Absolutely lively, speaking, verbs are all in place. And it saved: the talent, the fantastic school of Konstantin Raikin and the amazingly flexible brain, absolute hearing and love and understanding of the character. He understood who Dima was. So much so that I gave him blocks, for example, of 20 words, and he began to juggle them, he began to change them, rearrange them from place to place. He not only made them his own, but also came up with new options for what was already said. That is, he constantly diversified the text. This is some kind of genius!
— And Daria Ekamasova, which pair did he make up?
KM: Dasha had a difficult task. She did not have the luxury of three weeks on the site with me, and for her this is also not her native language, although the preparation is much more than that of Maxim. Dasha speaks pretty good English, if just not perfect. But she came to us when there was already little time for preparation. We needed to understand what was in Russian and what to speak in English. She is a brilliant actress, I do not need to advertise her. And I am grateful to her that she condescended to us, because this is the most famous actress in our film, who almost imperceptibly entered the ensemble without destroying it, but, on the contrary, somehow collecting it, did not pull anything upon herself. .. But Maxim had a big load. His character is like a catalyst, like a trigger that breaks into the life of the protagonist with a whirlwind and turns everything upside down. Almost like Victor’s alter ego, who dreams of probably being Dima, but he doesn’t succeed, and here this Dima himself is. Therefore, what Maxim did with this role, I dreamed about it, and this miracle happened. A man who, for a year with a small daughter, his wife, actress, was waiting for our picture without work. They called him, offered a job, but he refused, waiting for us to finally start. He sacrificed a lot, I bow to this devotion, this professionalism. Just an outstanding guy. After watching, the French, Germans, Americans came up: “Where is Dima? I want to meet him. He changed my life. ” They fall in love with him absolutely like a character, but this is thanks to Maxim. You can write anything you want, but he really revived this flesh, breathed life into it. You can’t deceive the viewer. The viewer is not stupid. It is necessary to respect the viewer, and this is now done in few places. Therefore, they produce so many bad films that they think the viewer is dumb. But he is not like that. And you need to select the actors very carefully and do everything very carefully. And our actors with the light that is in them bribed the viewer. And in order to round out the topic about Maxim, I tell him every day so that he brings his English to perfection. They are interested in him; he will be in demand not only in Russia. But on set, I got scared at some point: he spoke English so well. I didn’t need such a person. I need a guy with an accent. And I said, "You stop." I needed such an Ostap Bender, who, you know, is such a street guy, everything is fast enough, he knows how to charm everyone, bargain … Here it is in Maxim. But stop me already. I can talk about them for a long time.
— I stop. I wonder why you chose such a shooting style, from hand, as documentary. It is difficult to perceive it, it is very lively, immersed in the thick of events, in the middle of this minibus.
КМ: Фургон — это ещё один полноценный герой картины. И на самом деле это очень неудобный персонаж. Потому что забивать всех в фургон, а потом снимать — позиций не много. Можно или налево, или направо. Возможностей для богатых мизансцен мало, а большинство действий происходит именно в фургоне, в ограниченном пространстве. То есть, мы работали через ограничения. А ограничения были во всём. Стилистика картины во многом определялась тем, что мы не могли, а не тем, что мы могли. Как меню. Если у вас в меню 40 блюд, выбрать будет сложно. Если в меню 2 блюда, будет немножко проще выбрать. На самом деле у нас была картина ограничений: ограничений по деньгам, ограничений по времени подготовки и времени съёмки, ограничений в пространстве. Это очень тяжело, и я не думаю, что стоит загонять себя в такие углы постоянно, но так уже сложилось. И во многом камера вела себя так тоже из-за ограничений. Это реакция на те ограничения, которые нас окружали, реакция на то немногое, что мы могли сделать, это иногда моментальная реакция на то, на что мы должны были реагировать моментально. Резкие движения, вот такие (взмахивает руками, чуть не сбивает свой телефон со стола). Мускульность и динамика камеры определяется именно пространством и зажатостью. А ограничение во времени передавалось и оператору. Перед ним постоянно стояли задачи, как это успеть, что сделать. Я не говорю уже о ситуациях, когда 10 человек говорят одновременно по-русски, я ору, прошу быть потише, оператор не понимает, что происходит, спина у него болит… Он сам был вынужден на меня прикрикивать, просил понять, что происходит. И в этой ситуации непростой нам нужно было создать такое производство, которое позволило бы нам максимально динамично реагировать на создаваемую нами реальность, создаваемую нами жизнь. Наша задача просто записать эту жизнь. Я думаю, что эти условия, в которые мы были поставлены или в которые мы сами себя поставили, они обозначили многое в процессе регистрации этой жизни на флешку, на плёнку. Да, мы что-то сняли на плёнку. Я доволен тем… хотя нет, не доволен, так как это не было задачей. Я рад, что характер передачи материала соответствует характеру происходящего перед камерой и за камерой.
«Гив ми либерти»
— Смотрели фильм «Брат 2»?
КМ: Смотрел. Первая часть очень нравится. До Америки. После Америки уже нет.
— А ведь то, о чём я хочу вас спросить, как раз из американской части. Помните диалог, когда Данила уговаривает проститутку Дашу вернуться обратно в Россию. Она спрашивает: «А что я там буду делать?» На что он отвечает: «А что ты здесь делаешь?» Этот диалог вспомнился где-то на середине фильма, когда стало очевидно, что эти иммигранты притащили свой Советский Союз с собой. Теперь вы за них попробуйте ответить: а был ли смысл переезжать?
КМ: Так это эффект репки. Все цепляются друг за друга. Дед, я уверен, точно не хотел переезжать. Дед поехал за детьми, то есть за мамой Виктора. Всем этим пожилым людям сложно срываться, хотя американская медицина им очень здорово помогает, продлевает им жизнь лет на 20-30. Например, у нас в сцене похорон и поминок есть такой Семён, крупный мужчина. Он 25 лет служил в Семипалатинске, возле кнопки, как он говорил, сидел. В результате такого образа жизни полностью разрушены колени, сердце. Ходить не мог нормально. Вот он, кажется, на вторую неделю пребывания в Штатах заменил клапаны, ему вставили колени, пусть живёт. Он сам говорит: если бы я не переехал, меня бы уже в живых не было. Таких очень много. Но в первую очередь они едут за детьми, потому что понимают, что новой жизни не будет, новой работы не будет. Да, здесь все родные и могилы родных, привычные газеты. Сами бы точно не решились никогда, только за детьми. Родившимся в Америке уже не выбирать. Так что жалеть или не жалеть могут только те, кто действительно принял решение. Но я немного видел людей, которые жалели бы. И не потому, что это Америка. А просто, мне кажется, жалеть неправильно. Никто ведь не знает, как сложилось бы. Человек принимает решение жить здесь или там. А как он будет жить, зависит от него самого. Да, мы можем себя потешить какими-то мыслями, зря или не зря, но ни к чему хорошему это не приведёт, и к осмысленному ничему это тоже не приведёт. Я думаю, что решение соответствовало состоянию человека на тот момент. И на тот момент оно было правильным. Мне кажется, что жалеть неправильно.
— Но речь ведь не про жалеть, а про то, что они тащат с собой то, от чего вроде пытались сбежать. Быт не меняют, сами не меняются, они продолжают существовать в реалиях, узнаваемых нами. Даже обстановку квартир если оценить.
КМ: Тут согласен. Но мы же едем куда-либо не для того, чтобы измениться. Нас ничего не поменяет. Даже быт может поменяться, но мы будем такими же. Что-то выйдет на поверхность, что скрывалось, но, в принципе, люди не меняются. Понятно, что 70-летние, привыкшие к своему быту, у них ещё меньше шансов, чтобы изменить что-то вокруг себя. У них есть ворох привычек, которые им милы. Вот если говорить о привычках: я могу по спине узнать советского человека вне зависимости от того, во что он одет. Я думаю, вы тоже узнаете. По тому, как он ходит. Это не вышибить никак. Эти вот спины, даже выбор одежды. Они покупают её вроде там, а это та же советская одежда. И это уже часть их генетики. Молодые люди успевают подстроиться, увидеть для себя новых героев, что-то поменять. Но люди, которые всю жизнь прожили в Советском Союзе, ни о каких переменах речи не ведут. Весь свет и вся радость только во внуках. А они уже американцы. Говорят еле-еле по-русски, но всё равно радость. И воспоминания, память. Она может нас, конечно, угробить, не дать нам двигаться вперёд. Но куда им уже вперёд? Хотя я знаю некоторых людей, которые в 90 лет ещё чего-то хотят, ездят на курорты, фотографируются… И вот для меня молодость — это когда ты в 90 ещё хочешь фотографироваться. Или вот, сниматься.
«Гив ми либерти» вышел в российский прокат 1 августа.
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Автор: Вероника Скурихина