Fedor Bondarchuk’s new film ‘Inhabited Island’ is due to premiere on New Year’s Day 2009. Regardless of how the film does at the box office, and how the critics respond to it, it’s clear Bondarchuk is a ‘film director’ in capital letters. His name alone attracts both investment and ticket sales, for which he can only be envied.
DE I presents its own perspective on someone who physically at least represents a ‘hero for our times’. His other deeper qualities will be judged by the result of his work…
DE I: Do you work out much? If so, where?
In ‘Planet Fitness’ once or twice a week. Until the sweat starts to pour.
DE I: What do you do when you’re not working?
My hobby is cycling. I have a mountain bike at my dacha. But I haven’t any time. And I don’t know how to relax which is a problem for me. I try to fight it, to make myself relax, and recently I’ve been succeeding. Relaxation is very important.
DE I: Have you always wanted to be a director?
Always. For as long as I can remember.
DE I: You probably have your own massive collection of films?
No. I used to, and then I stopped. Haven’t got the time.
DE I: What illusions did you have to part with when you finally grew up?
With the illusions of fellowship, camaraderie. As the years go by many things begin to take on different meanings. I had illusions that we would always be the same as we were when we were 14, 16, when friends took the place of family. It seemed there was a camaraderie like you’d find on the battlefield. But when you emerge into what is a pretty brutal world, there is no camaraderie. The system of co-ordinates that supports it, helping each other, getting each other out of trouble, doesn’t exist. There isn’t that intoxicating sense that you can rely on your friend, as you can on yourself. The skills of battle under cover-fire are useless in ordinary life. As a result you’re hit by a kind of hangover syndrome. You sober up and discover that your family – your wife, your kids, your relatives – are in fact your closest circle.
DE I: Your first film was ‘9th Company’. What were you trying to get to in yourself with your second film?
Let me explain first – any director, above all else, takes on a project as a result of his ambitions. ‘Inhabited Island’ totally suited what I was looking for. But this was only my second film as a director. It’s a totally different issue whether I suited it. The first thing that came into my head when I read – at Rodnyansky’s suggestion – one of my favourite childhood books was ‘how do I film this?’. Straight away in one story you have a huge amount of characters, new technology, a different planet, different worlds – how do you materialise all that? We had to build 63 sets from nothing and design an inconceivable amount of props and costumes. When I was young I read ‘The Island’ several times. And only now has that fantasy become a reality. It was a challenge. We are the first to do anything like this. All the more, as long as I have the strength, I want to make big films which are technically difficult, with big budgets. When the time comes, I’ll make a low-key film. The desire is there.
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© DE I / DESILLUSIONIST ¹-1. «1.01.2009»