The premiere from the Belarusfilm film studio tells about the struggle of Belarusians for the reunification of their native lands into a single state
The national film project On the Other Shore was on general release for just a few days. The premiere of the historical drama dedicated to the struggle of Belarusians against Polish oppression took place on People’s Unity Day. The On the Other Shore film by the Belarusfilm film studio tells about ordinary people, their life on the border and how they fought for the reunification of the Belarusian people into a single republic.
The leading role was played by the young actor Daniil Chup (right)
Director Andrei Khrulev
It was no coincidence that the landmark premiere by director Andrei Khrulev was released on one of the most important public holidays. Let us recall the historical realities in which the plot unfolds. In 1921, the Treaty of Riga was signed, according to which the lands of Western Belarus, in particular the Grodno and partially Minsk provinces, were annexed to Poland. About 100 thousand square kilometres of territory, more than 3 million people who suddenly lost the right to self-determination and became second-class citizens in their native land... The annexed lands, ‘Kresy Wschodnie’, were only a source of raw materials, cheap resources and practically free labour forces for Poland, and the Belarusians had to either become Polonised or disappear. All this is not just a background for what is happening, but a significant motivator for the actions and choices of the main character Pavel (played by the young actor Daniil Chup). The young man lives with his mother exactly on the border of the Polish Republic and the BSSR. Through his vision and perception, viewers can observe how the Polish authorities are trying to assimilate local residents, suppress the original culture of Belarusians, and replace their religion and language with their own. The story of Pavel’s growing up and personality development is closely intertwined with what is happening. There are popular unrest, guerrilla warfare, and the way the new government suppresses any attempts by Belarusians to preserve their identity. The protagonist’s father went missing in the World War I, his mother died at the hands of Polish gendarmes, his brother became a member of the partisan movement, and was subsequently executed for anti-Polish activities. Nevertheless, the young man himself has more practical affairs and values — he just wants to live beautifully and richly, so he becomes a smuggler.
Crowd scenes were filmed as realistically as possible
But before our eyes, the young hero develops, matures, finds for himself the definition of such concepts as love, hatred and the possibility of ‘to call themselves human’.
“This is a very large-scale project, and it is important precisely because we all must remember the lessons of history,” Honoured Artist of the Republic of Belarus Ruslan Chernetsky, who played one of the anti-heroes, a Polish officer in the new film said.
“No matter how many years pass, we must remember that we are united, we are one people, and we must value and carefully preserve our unity. People’s Unity Day is a wonderful holiday because the Belarusian people were able to reunite. I am very glad that I participated in this project. I’m not even just glad, but incredibly proud to have starred in this film.”
Actress Antonina Divina
The On the Other Shore film was created in the best traditions of dramatic cinema. It closely interweaves many aspects that are understandable and close to everyone: the boundless pain from the loss of a loved one, the collapse of faith in justice, the loss and acquisition of the meaning of life, and also a meeting with fate and the opportunity to find love. Simple human feelings, skilfully conveyed by the actors and embodied in the characters, will help viewers become involved in what is happening on the screen even without additional knowledge of the story. The theme of a single people and civil patriotism sounds quite clearly in the film, however, the main emphasis is still placed on human feelings, on weaknesses and willpower, on courage and bravery, on love and humanity.
“You have a scene, you understand what you have to achieve, that is, by and large, the atmosphere itself tells you exactly what subtleties there are in your task, and everything is quite clear. And the director already explains the details through which the character or conflict can be better revealed. Yes, there were some homemade preparations for the image, because in improvisation a person is shown as sincerely as possible. But Andrei Khrulev still made sure that these improvisations did not violate the general context of the work. At the same time, he trusts the actors on set very, very much,” Ruslan Chernetsky shares the nuances of working on the set.
The On the Other Shore film is also unique in that the crowd scenes were built and filmed as realistically as possible, with the involvement of numerous actors, with the greatest possible authenticity and great attention to detail.
The filming period spanned several seasons, and the filmmakers had to travel a lot around the country. For example, three Belarusian rivers — Isloch River, Zaryanka River and Neman River — created in the picture the image of one water artery, which divided the country into two banks. Scenes in the border area were filmed in Rakov, and individual buildings and parts of the city were filmed so perfectly that one gets the feeling of a real presence in the town of the 1920s. The museum-estate in Loshitsky Park and the streets of Zaslavl became an excellent setting for the film. There were really a lot of shooting days, and they took place in different weather conditions.
“The first shift was the most difficult for me; I had to learn the most text in Polish. There, according to the plot, an interrogation took place, everything had to be done very organically and authentically. But in general, the role was well written; my character was perfectly explained not only by director Andrei Khrulev, but also by screenwriter Ivan Krivoruchko. As a matter of fact, he conducted the casting for this film. It’s great that there was such a role in the project, and I hope that I was able to embody my character and convey him as accurately and organically as possible. My character, of course, is negative, but as an actor I simply have to justify it — and he, naturally, has his own truth and his own vision of the world,” Ruslan Chernetsky recalls.
The plot of the film is really twisted, with elements of not only drama, but also a real detective story. The whirlpool of events captures you literally from the first minutes. So, no more spoilers: just don’t miss it!
The music for the film was written by Belarusian composer Aleksandr Sukharev