A press-conference with Alexander Mindadze took place at “Tsentralny” cinema

A press-conference with Alexander Mindadze took place on September 9 at “Tsentralny” cinema. Aleksandr Mindadze is an outstanding script writer and director, the creator of "My good Hans" film that was a participant of non-competition Feature Film Programme"Russian premieres". In the morning of the same day a press screening of the film took place and in the evening Aleksandr Mindadze personally presented his film to the viewers and guests of the festival at “Moskva” cinema.

During the press-conference the director told about the shooting process of his film, the work with the actors, the importance of the topic and challenges of the film. An hour wasn’t enough to ask all the questions, nevertheless, it was a captivating conversation, the quotations of which we have cited here.

About the title of the film:
The title adds some kind of irony. It seemed to me that this slightly ironical title later becomes bitter as the story is not ironical at all, and the two characters transpose in different ways. There is no doubt that the vector of pull-back and the vector of similarity with difference were important, though their functions are different.

About the choice of a historical moment:
I was interested in this period not from the point of view of journalism. Just a few months ago me and my friend Peter, who is a serviceman as well, took part in joint maneuvers and trainings. This man was driving as if he knew all the lanes. He saw himself dancing, drinking and having a girl by his side. This story hooked me. I had to examine a host of documents, it was all real. Then I was visiting factories and a retired man told me the story about him having worked with the Germans when he was a child. It is proved by a great number of documents. I took it as the basis, thought for sure it’s not pure documentary.

The point is surely to show these characters in the pre-war period, that’s the very sense. I mean the sense is that the candle hasn’t burnt down yet, but he is already here, only being different. The plot of the film takes place not long before the war. The collaboration started in 1930-1931 and there was a famous tank school in Kazan, for instance. A pilot school in Vitebsk, chemical tests with the Germans in Sarajevo – these are well-known things. The races that studied together in Lipetsk were later flying against each other.

About twin characters:
I was striving for this while shooting. There is even a scene when they see themselves on the parallel rail car as a part of this team. I thought it raises us above the life, because it is generalization. Whoever they are, – Germans or Russians – all of them find themselves just before the catastrophe that we are aware of and they are not, but they feel it. And this approach of the terrible Planet War affects all of them. We are at some distance, looking at the characters through the lens. We know that the war will come, but they don’t know.

About the work with the actors:
From the very beginning it was clear that German actors should star in the film. During the Soviet period the Germans, but only negative ones, were played by Baltic actors with the accent of villains. Of course I wasn’t going to head that way. We were searching for German actors. This process was hard not because German actors are so unavailable, but because they are surrounded by agents that block our way. When I met those actors, they were amazing people and, what surprised me, they were modest, even though they are popular stars. Working with them was a pleasant experience for me, it was simple as they are educated people. Plus, the scenario is written in prose. This letter with the comments inspired them a lot, because they never work like this. It was easy to deal with them because they understood what they were doing and their talent, which is essential for an actor, is not to fish out the details of the character’s life. They trust the director, they don’t need any words.
Jakob Diehl
(the feature actor - Ed.) had some difficulties while playing his character. It is his first major role in a film. It was more difficult with him because he rehearsed, he wanted to become Hans in his life. It was not as easy with him in the beginning as with the others. he is the only one who feels the approaching war especially acutely. 

Roza Khairulina at the shooting of "My good Hans" film

You know, if all my actors were just like Roza Khairulina , I would deprive them all of their speech as the film is technically a mute spectacle. She is a character of that time, who has lost her daughter, and she dispenses with words. You can see her pain and the way she forgives and disappears forever. If all actors had Roza’s expressiveness, one could live without troubles. 

About the war: 
This film is not about the war, it is about the foreboding of the war. My attitude to the war is expressed by loses and suicides. It is in the “time to live and time to die” sense. The character has already lived his life, and when the war has just started, he turns to a razor. This reflect my attitude to the tragedy.
When I was working on it, there was no war yet. When I was shooting in Nikopol City and the war was at a distance of 250 km, I wasn’t trying to predict anything. If you feel the horror and tragedy as after Fukushima «Saturday», film, then I was on the right path. The film is relevant to the present say as the life itself. And I don’t even mean wars, I mean the red-hot frying pan where we are today, we were yesterday and we’ll be tomorrow. I wasn’t trying to convey that on purpose. If you set yourself a journalistic task, you will fail.

About the viewers:
[During the Soviet time] there was a command system and administration of adaptation for the screen existed. If the State Cinema Committee considered the necessity to film an All-Union premiere, that the film was screened at all the cinemas without any exceptions. But there were other cases. When we finished shooting « Planetary Alignment», there was a limited release of only 6 copies in Moscow. Starting from «Fox hunting», we had to play at give-away with the State Cinema Committee, but it was much easier than it is today. Now they accept only those movies that generate profit and that are popular with viewers. It is other period and other generation: people want to consume and relax.
And it soesn’t matter who will watch it. Those who want will. There’s internet and endless clubs. To tell you the truth, I don’t have any illusions in the subject of viewers’ demands. It is a kind of European release. however, the difference is that they have an established network of cinemas and a viewer knows what he is about to watch, whether it will be a deep film or an entertaining one. we also have it, but it’s raw. People guess what will bring more money this time. And they try to predict viewers’ tastes. We also try, but, as the life show, we don’t always succeed.

About work:
If I’m sure [in the project], nothing can stop me. But the issue of research is the most painful for me. when I’ve just finished a film, I’m still with it, like in a trap, but I have to release from it and try to make something new. Now I've hardly found something, but I am still not sure whether it is what I need. It’s difficult to write a scenario, it is painstaking. But the most difficult moment is when you have no ideas and you are in search.
I can make it only if I create a story. I won’t work with a story written by someone else as I will fail and derive no pleasure from it. I’ve been writing and creating since youth. It is difficult to understand the work of others. You have to make it yours or write it yourself. And quite often a person thinks that the scenario he has written is substantial. But the truth is he has no right to write as it is far from being substantial.

Photos: Ekaterina Artimenya