Joint project unites cinema studios

Cinematographers from Belarus, Germany, Latvia and the Netherlands shoot film based on Vasil Bykov’s work

By Viktar Korbut

Belarusfilm is providing the sets and costumes for the film, which is being based on Bykov’s In the Fog. It is to be one of the most powerful projects in which our national cinema studio has ever been involved.

Film director Sergey Loznitsa, who was born in Baranovichi, is working on the film, while the international crew includes Polish costume designer Dorota Roqueplo and Czech director Martin Sebik. Vladimir Svirsky of Belarus, a graduate of the Russian Academy of Theatre Arts, is playing the lead role.

Mr. Loznitsa calls the film a drama ‘about a person who tries to make a moral choice under amoral circumstances’. He notes, “The action takes place in 1942, in Nazi-occupied Belarus. Wayman Sushchenya is accused of helping the Germans, so two partisans arrive at his isolated farmstead to punish him. Sushchenya endeavours to prove his innocence, creating a tense atmosphere.”

Oleg Silvanovich, Belarusfilm’s Director General, is keen to liaise with foreign partners, as this brings financial benefits and allows him to promote films more widely at international film festivals. Germany has provided the lion’s share of funds for this project.

Mr. Silvnovich is keen to see ‘Belarusian’ films gain greater recognition abroad, with joint projects broadcast across Russian and Ukrainian television. In the Fog is to be also released in Europe.

Recently, Belarusfilm shot another ‘international’ picture: A Lonely Island. Its budget stood at 1.2m Euros and it was produced by Lege Artis Film (Estonia) and Studio F.O.R.M.A. (Latvia), alongside Belarusfilm. Filming took place in Latvia, Estonia and Belarus.

Estonian film director Peeter Simm, who wrote the script and directed the work, tells us, “Big cities conceal the secrets of people’s private lives. The film explores several of these ‘stories’: a professor of literature fails to communicate effectively with his son — a locomotive engine driver; a young teacher finds herself in a complicated relationship with a senior pupil (the son of an Estonian taxi driver and a Belarusian stewardess); two friends who are former sailors fall in love with the same woman, enduring a long term love triangle; and a young ballerina confined to a wheelchair ‘tortures’ her mother with blame. Each person’s life is so complex that they must strive hard to gain understanding of themselves and forgive those close to them. The film shows us that, regardless of nationality, we share similar concerns and sorrows.”

Mr. Silvanovich hopes that the joint project will recoup its costs. “We understand perfectly that if a producer brings in several million Dollars, he seeks a return. Commercial success is a vital factor in making a film. It’s becoming more common for various European countries to share the cost of film production, as they seek grander projects which will attract a wider audience.”

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