The Dark Continent of Anastasia Shahvatova

For me, every film is a child... An artist can prove himself in a state of censorship and prohibition only… If you feel that beats out of my chest, that the hands are shaking, there is no power to be silent – shoot…

What is happening in Russian cinema now?  What is at the back of tons of discouraging news and condemnatory announcements?  We turn to young and talented Russian directors to hunt down a question. We turn to directors which films are triggers to stop and to start a conversation with an author. Today our guest is Anastasia Shahvatova, director of the film “Africa” that was submitted to Short Movie Club Film Festival.

A frame of film “Africa”

– What’s going on in Russia today?
– The last few years Russian cinema tearing apart two wishes (basically eternal): to get Cannes awards and regalia, and fees the masses but without success. That’s a job in the mines: digging, digging, and then hop real diamond! Such diamonds occur across unique experiences and qualified education of the author. When you’re in the beginning of your career there is nothing to lose and say you still want loudly, excitedly. I feel that I see it and I want others to see it! All all all, look at me: I’m naked and I ‘m standing in front of you. Sounds like every debut movie. Russia has been and remains strong social drama, that ‘s called absorbed with milk. Today drama looking for the hero and feels its pressure points, trying to get him to act and want. The absence of the hero is the main problem today. In general experiments with content are more than form.

– Why did you enter the VGIK?
Because it is the best artist university in Russia. Filmmaker isn’t the profession. Direction is a choice, a path, a responsibility that you or willing to take or not. The filmmaker is formed, created, matured. In this sense, the cinematography is the perfect incubator. Classical school and intelligent and professional professors and traditions.This has no end. There was a time when movie banned profanity. Among our elite student went murmurs the art of the kill, down with the censorship all things like that. So I can say that my magical power is a very dear and talented man that we quickly put in place. Can you do it without a mate? You should not do it all. What he had it in his mind: the cinema is an art of allegory, the art of the image. I want forehead to say go into journalism, reportage, advertising the same. Only in a state of censorship and prohibition can prove himself an artist. We then reviewed all of the comedy era of socialism, where all the jokes, rhymes very serious criticism of the regime is. And it was important for us, it was a lesson to us. So only a master can do it. I am choosing the strong school, and the right to experiment, so it is necessary to earn a perfect knowledge of the business.

I think we should choose a country of study based on the cinema of this country, and the actual film school. Asia is now a very strong movie, but its not school yet. Russia is a very strong School, and cinema in a deplorable state. What I would advise for sure is to have life, a full breath to live, to breathe, to experience even the winds and then go to study directing. Maybe even tank to some education, acting classes finish, painting, photography, psychology. It all then give tremendous results!

– You are an optimist, do you believe in future?
Oh Yes, I am an optimist! Everything happens to me leads me to my purpose. All passable on me steps one ladder. I just do not always immediately understand. Now I think about the future rarely. I have no free time, I work all the time. But awareness of yourself, your way – it’s in me. I so clearly feel it, like a skeleton. You don’t have to think about your skeleton, so it worked) I know exactly what my future holds, but don’t know which way will come back).

– Why have you chosen Africa?

I must admit that my master recommended me to work with the African theme. I wanted to show a story of a young woman who came back home after WW || to her mother-village but nobody wanted to communicate with her. Women-veterans weren’t so respectful as the men. However, my master forbade to make a movie about the War. And he was absolutely right! Now you should show the War in a super-honest and direct way or in a very unique way. I am not ready for it (but maybe one day I will film this story).
He asked me about the most important moment in the sсript, and it was mother’s dislike to her child. This feeling is a real sin. Mother’s love is the main thing which a child needs to have. Personally speaking, I can’t still understand which side I support in my film. Where is that redline which you shouldn’t pass even in a fighting for love? Who is more damaged? Is it the mother or the daughter? That’s why the audience has contrast opinions. Many of them told me that Diana is real heroine and Nika is just a devil. To be honest, deep inside I feel depressed sometimes. Sure, you are going to ask me about the relationships with my mom. They are very complicated. It seems that I can’t excuse her for some moments. But if that moments didn’t exist I would never have real feelings. Our pain is our experience. You should take it into account if you want to make a movie. The film will not be successful without an individual persistent pain.

What is good and bad things in the shooting? Is it worth it now to make a movie?
Oh. There is no absolute answer. For me, cinematography is a way to speak. It’s easier for me to shoot and to show what I feel than explain it. It’s not my choice – so the genes and the stars are aligned. And so for me the question is not even worth it. Only when I working on a film set, I get kicks. It’s another alternate reality where I create the World with one’s own hands. And then I see how this World begins to live, and it’s the greatest pleasure. For me, every film is a child. You are responsible for it, for his victories and defeats, acts and omissions, but nevertheless it is on its own. It was a part of you, and now it is an individual. And must find the place in the World. Now I carry a new child, I keep him with me, think about him, form his character and appearance.To make a movie is to win the war. Still difficult. Every shift you are against the whole World. No. The whole filmmakers team is against the whole world every shift. Because the movie is a team game. If you feel that beats out of my chest, that the hands are shaking, there is no power to be silent – shoot. All other motifs are void, I think. Good shooting is good at all! Bad is bad. For me, the most important things in shooting is the quality of the material, it determines everything. If I see that the material goes, all turns out – I will be able to overcome (in extremis to sweat out) a lot.

– Can you tell us about any weird, fatal, incredible or funny incident from your cinematic practice?
Usually I have fatal acquaintances. It was very hard for me to shoot Africa. There were difficult locations and a complicated shooting schedule for actors. The group was helping me (not from the beginning), and there were reliable, trusted people there. Of course, it is important to feel the support of the group.

Director A.Shahvatova (in center) with actors

Aliaksandr Martyniuk