Russia is not a place for Hollywood popcorn

Renowned Russian film director Stanislav Govorukhin paid a visit to Pravda.Ru to speak about the current state of affairs in cinematography, about popcorn films and the dominant influence of Hollywood in Russia.

"Recently, the State Duma has discussed state policies in domestic cinematography. You offered to introduce quotas on American films, giving an alternative - Asian films. Who do you think can watch Chinese and Korean films in Russia?"

"I sometimes follow the media, and I can see that Asian films win international film festivals. I believe that we have too many Hollywood products in Russian cinemas today - I'm talking about Hollywood, not American films. At the same time, we do not have a comprehensive picture of what is happening in the world of cinematography. No matter what kind of relations we may have with the European Union, they have a very strong cinematography. There's a huge segment of films that we don't know.

"In the Duma, we talked about quotas, but it can not be done, because there are not enough Russian films, and 50 percent of films are not meant for the general public.

"But if we try to cut the share of Hollywood films at the expense of gorgeous Japanese, Korean, Hong Kong movies, it can be considered as a way out of this situation, although I understand that this is not possible, because many threads of our Russian film distribution industry are in the hands of Americans."

"I'm talking about how to get people to watch Korean films, for example. We know many Hollywood stars, but have know nothing about Asian film stars."

"Have you seen a Korean film in your life? Even I have seen quite a few Hong Kong, Korean, Chinese, Vietnamese motion pictures, and I have to say that they are absolutely stunning. Making people go and see those films is not my concern, I'm sorry. There are distributors for that. Besides, why attaching such importance to my words? I'm not Putin, I made a suggestion and expressed my personal opinion."

"Nevertheless, it is worth listening to what you say. What should cinematography be like to make people go to film theaters? Can you, as a master of Russian cinema, answer this question - what type of films does the Russian audience need?"

"Cinema should be the way spectators need it - commercial. We are living in  commercial times today, so one should make commercial films - with brainless plots for semi-literate youngsters, who chew popcorn. In America, it's the same - there are same stupid teenagers sitting in movie theaters there. Remember, what level we had in the country 20-30 years ago. Unfortunately, we have hopelessly lost that level. Today, educated and intelligent film directors need to go down to the level of illiterate cinema-goers to conquer modern audiences."

"For whom do we have all these film studios in Russia then?"

"In fact, we have just a few studios: Mosfilm, Lenfilm, Cinema Studio named after Gorky, Sverdlovsk Film Studio, and soon we'll have the film studio in Yalta (the Crimea - ed.). Things are changing, the president takes part in the process too, so I think that next summer it will be the same as it was 30 years ago, when up to 12 films were being shot in one day. I hope that there will be decent Russian films made, capable of raising the cultural level of our audience."

"Speaking of the cultural level, you have recently initiated the ban on obscenities in films. Do you have any regrets about it? At times, a scene is not a scene without an expressive word."

"No regrets about that, because I frankly do not understand why one needs dirty language on the screen. No one has ever uttered a swear word in my films. Chekhov's characters do not swear either, although some may say that Tolstoy's do.

"I know Russian classic literature by heart, because I can not read anything by contemporary writers. I always reread Chekhov, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, and I can tell you that you can come across dirty language in very rare cases. There is absolutely no need for Dostoevsky's or Lermontov's characters to swear."

"After you make a film and show it to people, are you worried about what critics say?"

"Honestly, I was following their reviews before, because they were criticizing all my films, and I was terribly worried. Then I lost interest in that, I lost the habit of reading those reviews, and now I do not care what people write about me. Finally, I realized that it does not matter to me what success a film has today. It is much more important this film should live for a long time. When my diploma film "The Vertical" is shown on TV, my heart is overfilled with joy.

"One ought to judge a film in 20-30 years. For example, such motion pictures as "Walking the Streets of Moscow" or "The Cranes Are Flying" never go out of date. Critics may destroy a film that millions of people will watch for decades. Time puts everything in its place. We'll see you again in twenty years and talk about my films again."


Read the original in Russian

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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov