MY JOY (2010 – Writer and Director Sergei Loznitsa):
The story about a few days in the life of truck driver Georgi seems to be a never-ending nightmare, a spiral of violence and abuses of power.
A man goes to work and on his way he is sucked into the everyday madness of his country, losing his health and memory in the process. A dark parable about the situation in deep Ukraine today.
The film was screening in a festival, I enjoyed it and decided to have an interview with Sergei.
He was so polite and humble and it made me more interesting to talk with him about his artistic concerns.
Q: At the beginning of film we face with a truck driver which starts to drive his truck in the road, Could we address "My Joy" as a road movie?
A: The film can be called a “road movie” because in the first part of the film the protagonist is making a journey through provincial Russia. Equally, the film can be described as a “contemporary fairy tale”, as it is a fictional story, in which the main character has a series of encounters and goes through a transformation.
Q. What was the important aspect of Georgy character to select the actor? How did you select Victor Nemets?
A Victor Nemets is a theatrical actor from Minsk (Belorussia). He recently moved to Moscow. We had several candidates for the main role, but when we started rehearsals with the camera, it became obvious that Victor is “our man”. It was a pleasure working with Victor, and he worked very hard. He spent several months on location, living in the village, getting to know the environment and going through a transformation – from a good-looking young guy into a zombie.
Q. You started with documentaries, then made fictional movies, how did your experiences with documentaries help you in this film?
A. I have been making documentary films for almost 15 years. During this time I travelled around rural Russia. During my travels I met a lot of people a heard a lot of stories, and at some point I felt that I had to share this experience and I decided to write a script for a feature film.
I tried to use documentary style of filming in my feature film. The movement of the camera, the nature of lighting, the manner of acting – all these elements are as close to the documentary style as possible.
Q. "My Joy" has been shown is 2010 Cannes film festival and many other festivals, what about the feedbacks?
A. It was a great honour for me to present the premiere of “My Joy” in Cannes. Cannes is the best film festival in the world, it is the place where the art of cinema takes central stage, and it is a unique and unforgettable experience.
“My Joy” has also travelled to several dozens festival all over the world – from Pusan to Dubai and from Kiev to Recife. It has also been released for distribution in many countries: in France, Germany, Russia, the USA, Portugal.
Q. After screening the film in Dubai film festival I remember that one of the audience asking you why the title was "My Joy", because she thought it was a comedy, Now I want to ask you why the title "My Joy"?
A. Well, of course there is some irony in the title. Also, when I started writing the script, I intended to write a love story, however as I kept writing the romantic theme was becoming more and more obscure… So, I ended up with the story of the truck driver Georgy and his journey through hell, but I decided to keep the title which I liked very much.
Q. There is summer and people with summer cloths in the movie and Glacial and slight rides, where was the locations and how long did the production take?
A. The shooting took place in the east of Ukraine, in the Chernigov region, very close to the Russian border. In total we had 40 shooting days. 20 in the summer, and 20 in the winter 2010.
Q. What about the compliance of the story with the realities of the society? Is there any exaggeration?
A. “My Joy” is a feature film, and the story is fictional. Any film is a creation of the director, a fantasy and an invention. The film is purely subjective, so is the perception of the audience.
Q. What was the feedback of the critics and audience of your country to the film? Was there any difference?
A. In Russia there has been a very passionate reaction to the film. It split the opinion of the critics and the public. It seems to provoke discussion and inspire reflection.
Q. What is your next project, Could we wait for a fictional movie or a documentary?
A. My next project is called “In the Fog”. It is a feature film based on the novel by the Belorussian writer Vassily Bykov. The action takes place during the WWII, in the German occupied Belorussia.
The main character is wrongly accused of being a collaborator, and two partisans arrive from the forest to get revenge. In short, I would describe this film as a drama of a man who “tries to make a moral choice under the immoral circumstances”. I plan to start shooting the film in September 2011 in Latvia.