Hello Dmitri Frolov, it’s a pleasure to have you with us for this interview. Congratulations on your award at last season of the “Casablanca Film Factory Awards”.
Q: Recently your movie “Clownery” won many accolades at several festivals; in a few words, what is it about?
A: The film is dedicated to the work of the classic of the absurd Daniil Kharms. It consists of a series of short stories by the writer, connected by a certain character – a retired revolutionary sailor who got into the world of the early Soviet Union – the action takes place in the early 1930s. A few words about the author of the literary source. In his life and work, everything – from non-standard literary forms to impulses to change his pseudonym over and over again – is contradictory, irrational and revolutionary. His real name is Yuvachev. Kharms was not a sparkling merry fellow, but he gave his contemporaries and descendants a lot of humorous stories, funny anecdotes and witty phrases. He perfectly saw and understood reality, but, not wanting to become a part of it, he preferred surrealistic techniques in his work. He lived only 36 years. Born in 1905, he died in a prison hospital during the siege of Leningrad in 1942. During his lifetime, he was hardly printed, and people recognized his work only many years later, thanks to accidentally preserved manuscripts.
Q: When did you plan to do this film?
A: Immediately after I read Kharms’ books, I began to think about the film based on his works. By the way, in the film I myself act as the author of the phantasmagoria that takes place on the screen. The fate of the film is also a bit similar to the works of Kharms himself. For a long time he lay on the mezzanine and did not have any shows. Finally, it became possible to collect, restore the material and publish a DVD disc, as well as send it to festivals.
Q: What got you into filmmaking in the first place, and did you receive any formal training on the subject?
A: I graduated from the Film and Television Institute in Leningrad. That’s when the filming of the film took place.
Q: What can you tell us about your film work prior to this film?
A: Before this film, I made several informal, underground films outside the system of official Soviet cinema. We called this movement “Parallel Cinema”. Then it was avant-garde and underground.
Q: Can you explain or tell us some of the important elements of this film that makes it interesting?
A: It was important for me to achieve such an effect that the viewer would think that the film was really shot in the 1930s. Therefore, various tricks were applied in the form of a black and white image and an aged muffled sound. Thus, the viewer was immersed in the atmosphere of the time when the author of the texts taken as a basis lived and worked.
Q: How big was your team and what were the cameras that you used?
A: The film was shot on 16 mm film of the Soviet company Svema. Cinema camera “Krasnogorsk-3” This is a non-synchronous camera with a spring-loaded mechanism.
Q: Directors (and indeed actors) who inspire you and what are your favourite movies?
A: I am interested in all the classics of world cinema. The number of names is so great that it is impossible to list them here!
Q: Where can people see your work?
A: It’s not difficult at all: there is a Facebook page where you can watch the whole movie: https://www.facebook.com/klounada89
Q: What are your future projects?
A: The project I am working on is also related to the history of my country. It refers to the moment of the collapse of the Russian Empire as a result of the civil war. However, it will not have a linear narrative and, like most of my films, it will try to awaken the historical deep memory of the viewers themselves. I hope I succeed!
Q: Thank you for this very inspiring interview, Dmitri Frolov. Here at the “Casablanca Film Factory Awards” we look forward to seeing and appreciating your new film productions!
A: Thank you very much for your interest in my film, for appreciating and rewarding us!