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HAMBOURG 2022

Andrii Kokura • Réalisateur de Pokut

“À 15 ans, peut-être même avant, j’ai compris que j’étais capable de faire un long-métrage”

par 

- Entretien avec le jeune réalisateur ukrainien de 19 ans sur son premier film et la tragédie qui a frappé pendant le tournage

Andrii Kokura • Réalisateur de Pokut

Cet article est disponible en anglais.

Andrii Kokura is a Ukrainian director (and a successful figure skater) who is only 19 years old. He filmed his full-length debut, Pokut [+lire aussi :
critique
bande-annonce
interview : Andrii Kokura
fiche film
]
, without a producer or crew, and it has now premiered at the Molodist Film Festival, this year taking place in Hamburg (see the news). The film is about a girl whose mother has died, and who is trying to find a common language with her father and his new girlfriend. Sadly, on the set of the movie, a real-life tragedy occurred – Kokura’s father, who had been helping him with the shoot, passed away.

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Cineuropa: How do you combine the careers of a figure skater and a film director?
Andrii Kokura:
For example, now I’ve just come back from a skating competition in France, tomorrow I will go to a competition in Germany, and then I come back, train and fly to a festival for three days, for my premiere, and then I return to training. Somehow! But it is easier than when you are immersed in the filming process and you have constant training. But you just find time. Because I was shooting on my own, with no financing or production constraints, I was able to establish the shooting schedule based on when I had time and when the actors had time. I did not depend on other people – on a producer or on a crew – because I was doing everything myself, and I needed to have my father’s help at times and the actors to be available to work at those moments.

You started shooting this film at the age of 17; how did you manage to attract professional actors like Dasha Volga, for example, who are already quite famous?
The final version of the film came out when I was already 19, but I basically finished the first drafts at 18. In terms of attracting such actors, well… I made a short film that I also shot when I was 17, and which I wrote at the age of 16. It was in the Molodist Film Festival national competition, for the 49th edition. There, I met Dasha Volga, as we were in the same competition. She then invited me to do a show together, and we started talking. At that time, I was writing the script – it was originally a short story. I had an idea to make a short film, and I invited her to play the role of Vika, which she did, but at that time it was still a short. She already knew me from the festival, she knew I was shooting alone, and she liked my film. Alina Kostyukova, who played the mother, also agreed, but I don't know why. Andrii Romania, who played the father, agreed from the very beginning because Dasha Volga was in the film and he really wanted to act with her, since they had played together a long time ago. The main role was played by a non-professional actress, a girl I saw on Instagram, who was a reference when I was writing the script. I immediately asked her whether, should there be any idea for a script or a film, she would be interested in it or not. She wrote back that she would be. It was a bit of a gamble on my part, not knowing whether she could act, but I believed in her, and it was an interesting process. It's a fascinating mix of professionals and non-professionals, and I think the cast worked really well in that regard because the professional actors helped everyone who didn't have any experience in movies.

Why did you decide to shoot in Russian? After all, there is now a law in place concerning language in cinema…
I decided to shoot in Russian because it was the language that I knew best, or so I thought at the time. Now, I think that maybe it should have been done in Ukrainian. But at that time, my reasoning was that I didn’t know enough Ukrainian to make it organic in the film, and I was the one responsible for making the language flow melodiously and naturally, I would say. And also, owing to the fact that I wanted to be as frank as possible with the audience, I realised that at that time, I would not have been able to write or reproduce all of this in Ukrainian in the same way as I would in Russian. Now, in hindsight, I think I would rather have preferred to do it in Ukrainian, and the actors would have helped with everything in order to make it organic.

How did you manage to shoot a feature at such a young age without any producers?
Actually, initially I hadn’t planned on spending two years making it; I wanted to make it in under one year. From the age of 15, or maybe even earlier, I understood that I could make a full-length film.

Your dad, who helped you with the shoot, died during filming. What role did he play in this whole endeavour?
There's a scene with the hitch-hiker, and in the prologue, interludes and epilogue, there's footage of us driving in the car when my father tells actress Alina Kostyukova some stories – which, by the way, are from real life. He is talking about me. This was the time when we went to the hospital because the actress got a splinter on set and we couldn't get it out, because it was quite big. So we went to the trauma centre so that the doctors there would help her deal with it. We went to this hospital, and I just filmed how we went there. That is, it’s reality mixed with fiction. We went to the hospital, and there, in the trauma centre, my father died. My dad was key because he was a person who gave me his complete support. When I was 17 years old and I wanted to make a film, it was one thing to come up with the idea and understand the cameras and why I wanted to make it, and quite another thing to actually realise all of that physically. He helped me to do so.

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