Warsaw Talents 2019 – The Curator

Interview with the producer, Ekaterina Filippova
Interview with the director, Petr Levchenko

Interview with Ekaterina Filippova – Producer of “The Curator”
By Svetlana Semenchuk

Presented at the Warsaw International Film Festival, “The Curator” is a debut feature by 27-year old Russian director Petr Levchenko. A stylish drama about the multi-faceted nature of family relations and corruption in his native country, the film surprisingly received financial state support. It’s a real miracle from producer Ekaterina Filippova, who secured the funding under the current strict Russian system despite the film being a politically-charged debut. We spoke to Filippova in the Polish capital, where she joined the director for the film’s screening.

The Curator is inspired by the criminal case of a Georgian businessman from Krasnogorsk. This is indeed a typical episode in Russia’s contemporary criminal history. Why did you choose this story?

This story happened four years ago in Russia and became a real scandal. It was truly outstanding. Perhaps it was the first scandalous public murder of an official. The killer, the Georgian man, was called Robin Hood. He became a real hero for the Russians. It seemed like an interesting story about life and the government system, about the moral and emotional climate in Russia. And perhaps not only in Russia.
The director decided to make this the inciting incident of his drama. The main reason was personal. He started working on the script after hearing the radio interview with the killer’s son. It’s an emotional story about a son and his father, and he felt it had something in common with his personal life.

The film has an unusual casting. The main role is played by Yuri Tsurilo, who’s known in Russia as the star of Crystal, my car! (1998), directed by Alexei German. It’s an important film for Russian audiences, a symbol of the 1990s.  Is that partly why you decided to cast him in the role?

First of all, he’s a great actor. We see The Curator as a Scandinavian noir based on Russian criminal documentary material. It’s inspired by the Romanian New Wave and also influenced by the films of Alexei German.
We couldn’t do the casting ourselves in Georgia because of border-crossing issues. So I called Vladimir Katcharava, the Georgian producer, for help. First, we chose Mikheil Gomiashvili, who’s well known in Georgia and Russia. And now in Europe too, since he starred in Mohsen Makhmalbaf’s The President.

It is quite surprising to see the Russian Ministry of Culture supported the film in the credits. The film has a strong political element, so it’s difficult to imagine they could have backed the project.

It’s a paradox. When we started the project, the title was The Shooter. But the script stayed the same. Of course we pitched it to the state funding board – we needed the money. And we could have pushed the storyline of a murder, but the film is not quite about that, it’s about something more complicated. Fortunately, I’ve been involved with successful projects before, like The Man Who Surprised Everyone. So I know how to get the result I want, and TheCurator is a real arthouse film.

Despite the political conflict, you made a film in a co-production with Georgia. Will such cooperation still be possible in the future?

We’re planning two projects next year. One of the projects name is Jonjoli, it’s a plant. This is quite symbolic. It’s a love story with very unexpected script twist. And the second will be a feature film by Rusudan Chkonia, who has previously done Keep Smiling. Many countries will be involved in this project: Georgia, Russia and Switzerland.

Interview: Svetlana Semenchuk
Warsaw Critics Project 2019

Heritage is Key to Petr Levchenko´s ” The Curator”
Denisa Jašová talks with the Filmmaker

The Curator, the feature-length debut of director Petr Levchenko, had its world premiere at 35th Warsaw Film Festival. Based on true events that occured in 2015 in the Russian suburban city of Krasnogorsk, it’s a fiction story about the hunt for Georgian businessman Dimur Kavsadze, who killed a local mayor and three of his close associates. As a story about the endless cycle of money and lost humanity, the film however isn’t of a political sort. It follows a little bit hidden plot line about family relationships.

The film is based on a true story but there is also another theme you focus on here, so I am curious about what was the essential thing that led you to make this film?

When it all happened, I said like, “Wow, I am going to do this, because it’s fantastic and so interesting”, but it wasn’t like that. I saw an interview with the son of the shooter – in real life it was a really big fuss in Russia, it was absolutely a hot topic in every newspaper. And it really took my attention because between the lines about, “My father was so good“  was a very strong point. He said, “Father is a father, family is family, but construction must continue”, like this cycle of money, power and all this should continue anyway, like, “I am with you, guys. I am not with my father”. And for me it took me some time, maybe because of my relationship with my family, my father – of some mistakes we have in our communication. And from this, I started to build this script. Maybe for me it is about heritage – what one generation will give to another. And for the son who will take this not really light duty on his shoulders. It is about family, for me.

When talking about family issues, do the family scenes or children’s stage play, which you include in the narrative, have some symbolic meanings?

It’s basically about family, maybe it was shot like a criminal film, but for me it’s about family, so this part was natural to me. It’s like the world that really contrasts with this man. He sits down with his granddaughter, he eats and then he goes and does terrible things and it’s so easy for him, like it would be to eat banana or sausage. I mean to kill a man is easy for him, it’s his work. When I wrote the children’s play, I wanted to have no connections with the screenplay I noticed that Colchis is in Georgia. We found this parallel line because our main character wants to take the shooter to Georgia and this guy in the child’s play is stealing a golden fleece to take it to Colchis too, so the plans are a little bit similar.

Many directors have an inspiration from various directors or movements from the history of the cinema, do you also have some?

Yes, 100% it was Jean-Pierre Melville films. Samurai and so on, very silent criminal films, French criminal films of 60s and 70s, it was my big inspiration.

What about your choice of music? I notice there is diegetic music, such as from a car radio, but also some instrumental sessions

Music is a dangerous stuff to deal with because you can lapse into vulgarism … Some of this music I composed on my own, some of it was made by a very good Russian composer. There is some guitar, some piano sessions and in the final scene we have synthesizers. I actually composed just a little bit, only the final one. Music must somehow turn things upside down, it shouldn’t just comment like that something is, for example, funny.

Interview: Denisa Jašová
Warsaw Critics Project 2019