Cat, rooster and other intriguing film elements
Film director Nikolay Knyazev has no doubt that his new comedy, To Steal Belmondo, will prove a hit
According to the Director General of Belteleradiocompany, Oleg Silvanovich, the film is now being edited for cinema release. The aim of selling the film to the Russian market as a six-episode television mini-series remains on hold — as Russia is already saturated, lacking demand for foreign TV programmes.
However, the studio hasn’t lost hope and Mr. Knyazev is confident that To Steal Belmondo will soon be in demand. Despite the well-known name of the protagonist, the original Monsieur Belmondo wasn’t invited to participate in filming — for budgetary reasons (less than a million Dollars). However, some of the film was shot in Paris, requiring urgent visas and air tickets for the crew. The Belarusian village which is the namesake of the European capital was ‘played’ by Ostroshitsky Gorodok. Mr. Knyazev tells us, “Originally, we planned to shoot in the Vitebsk Region’s real village of Paris. However, on visiting, we realised it wasn’t suitable. So, Ostroshitsky Gorodok was chosen. We even had to build the Eiffel Tower.”
The film was shot at Hollywood speed and with Bollywood colour: in 50 days (almost unheard of in the world of cinema). Naturally, there were some problems, particularly with the cat, Belmondo — who is stolen by criminals. The director admits, “I found Snezhok (Snowball) at a cat show and immediately identified him with the part of Belmondo; he seemed noble, arrogant, energetic and handsome. However, he turned out to be quite sluggish and apathetic. Sometimes, it required dozens of takes to get the cat to move.”
Meanwhile, a rooster that was required to jump from a roof onto Tolya Kot’s head kept landing on his shoulder or back, scratching him terribly, until he couldn’t bear it any longer. Eventually, Tolya requested a final take and then to work with what they had. As if understanding these words, the rooster then performed the take perfectly!
Russian and Belarusian actors Anna Bondareva, Andrey Dobrovolsky, Sergey Zhuravel, Alexander Pankratov-Cherny and Oleg Nesterov are also cast. Oleg has the leading role of Moscow writer Benedict Bakunin, who is suffering from writer’s block. Producer Gennady Davydko initially insisted that the role of Bakunin be played by Igor Ugolnikov, but the director only saw Nesterov in the part.
The film has already been screened in Ostroshitsky Gorodok and at the Dazhynki Festival in Gorki. It will premiere at other Belarusian cinemas from October and will, surely, meet an enthusiastic reception.