The importance of this
project is measured by life of its author, director and producer: he is in
the same situation as his main character, and he could be killed too. Life
is normally more important than a career. Films are very important too -
here the career could kill, or save lives.
Look, see what I produce, someone has to say it somewhere, so that it
won’t disappear; if I am killed or chased down, then you should realise,
that’s exactly why I’m doing it. The article is still writing itself, I
haven’t finished it, I’m sitting here in the middle of KGB country, my
name and my life are already into the third decade in their blacklists,
and now they’ve begun shooting people again, in groups – ten, a hundred,
at a time… you can’t miss it, but it’s not on the scale of the former
empire where they would shoot thousands.
Don Askarian 17.12.2006
Perhaps it’s a nightmare that is spreading, perhaps it’s the truth that’s
murmuring; time will tell: during the last few weeks I’ve been getting
feelings that are not particularly pleasant…the feeling that my murder is
being planned; discussed, or they’ve already reached the implementation
stage. Who knows?
Two nights – most recently last night – I could feel it with my skin.
It seems to me that I have to start by taking steps to defend my life and
my property, of which the main part are my films. Would the publication of
this article help to defend me? More likely it would give the murderers a
old/new fit against me. Even the rottenest prison officer will confirm
that I am the last free human in this republic, which is why I shall
publish these lines whatever happens. It must be somewhere where they
won’t just disappear without trace. So that the knife stabs deeply. Is
there a Russian NYT?
Legally, they are the co-authors of this article - in any case, without
them it would have developed as it has.
Long live number, the number revolution! – the only one, which is accepted
without any provisos: each arsehole and every cur can call themselves a
film director today - and quite right, too, very right indeed: because in
the final analysis what we still don’t actually know is: who’s the
arsehole, who’s the idiot, and who’s the real film director. The history
of mankind is mostly the first two, as history//the story and the present
of the film convincingly confirm. The money plays a smaller and smaller
role – the producer filled right up with the director’s blood and with
money; and, laden with the money and the thoughts of the money, brainless
producers will blanch, and soon become a skeletal shadow - and perhaps
it’s not bad, it could even be to the good; it could mean the film
director’s profession, one where only counterfeiters, cheats, and whores
can prevail and prosper, changes to one, which if not decent, is at least
Whether the era of the ponce -producer is drawing to a close? Hardly.
Because the mass production of paper did not improve the quality of
literature, it only increased the number of compulsive writers, which
would have been a good thing if it meant the number of readers increased –
but the truth is that bad writers make still worse readers.
The Russian KGB has transformed the repellent cinematic flat-share of
communism, where corpses lay scattered everywhere, and where the
executioner organised blood-slathered parties, into a no less disgusting
ethnic, nationalistic, racist grotto ruled over by the multi-faced – the
state scribes’ little boys – the corpses are no less plentiful, and the
bloody party goes on.
What Chinese who work in films are doing, I do not know, neither do I want
to know, because I would not learn anything new…but I am, however, sure,
they are doing the same as the Russian secret service film department,
just covered with a different bloody sauce.
Western film functionaries are calmly washing the shite and the blood off
the shoes of the Persian Mullahs and the Chinese functionaries. They are
stupid, or for sale - in such context there can be no third definition –
however, the combination of both characteristics is a perfect one. Many of
them let themselves go – or pretend to - in the folkloristic-ethnographic
mash: so, that’s it, the grey, industrial West, a set of soulless
multi-storeyed buildings against a background of the sky, and on the other
side - a hot penis or cunt in a multicoloured necklace, and…the call of
the unwashed shamans, whereby the latter, one supposes, no, for certain,
is played by some retired colonel.
In filmic terms the post-Soviet republics are shoved around between the
shoulders, the broad square shoulders, of the White Russian Lukashenko
(looks like a public hangman) and the fur cap, the stinking fur cap of
Turkmen-Bashi (or whoever’s wearing it today.). They even organize
festivals, and what did you expect, then, from the former (is it really
right that they are still former?) informers and Stasi collaborators -
they haven’t forgotten those blessed days, when the Berlinale, as reliable
as a rented whore, doled out prizes for KGB mash – to the Soviet films –
or to Soviet tanks?
So that you really do understand: an informer, a secret agent, someone who
denounces his neighbour, his friend, his brother, his father, his dear
mother even, he is someone who has a normal job – those people were there
It’s not a matter of the job, it’s for whom, and in whose names, they
serve – that’s all that matters: the Soviet Union (and communist China)
were, in matters of nastiness and criminality, and measured as purveyors
of the same, in no way inferior to the Nazi regime; in many ways the
Soviet Union even surpassed it – for example, in duration: it existed 60
Is it really true, that it exists no longer? Perhaps it is still there?
They have simply crossed out the article of the penal code on foreign
exchange transactions, and now let citizens leave the country. Russian
national television stations constantly sing the praises of the Stalinist
executioners, and for the victims… well, what about the victims? That was
their fault, they just got tangled among the wheels of history, just as if
they were the wheels of a car.
In Moscow, Solzhenitsin invites Putin round for a cup of tea.
During the period of Soviet power millions of humans beings were
destroyed, many millions, dozens of millions, 50, 60, 70 million…to wipe
out such crowds of people you need many millions of executioners,
butchers. Well, not one of these criminal swine has ever been made to
answer their deeds. Not a single one. Please think of that for a moment.
The office is still working. For another moment, imagine the unimaginable:
Hitler did not lose the war, the endless row of German
butcher-executioners and their cinematic compositional service, all these
Hebbels, Hendricks, Riefenstahls, Karajans und Furtwanglers, and this cur
(from the film by Istvan Sabo, who was himself involved… in Hungary!)
….For Heaven’s sake! If he was, too, then who wasn’t? Was it an
autobiographic film he made, then?.
Imagine that they had not have lost the war, and now they would be
travelling around, making their films, being awarded prizes, organising
festivals themselves, shaking your hand, kissing your darling cheeks, one
to the left, one to the right, having lunch with you, taking some of you
to bed…imagine all that and if you are not, as I am, sickened by the
thought, that’s because it’s probably not so pleasant to have to do with
people with records like that, butchers and murderers – if only for
reasons of your own security. But then, you could just make their record
Opening up the archives - could that rescue the film? They say they
nicknamed Tarkovsky “Miss Hissy”; personally, I wouldn’t want to read the
dossiers of Sergey Mikhalkov and his brother Andron Konchalovski –
everything about then is clear without any reading.
Obviously, it is not particularly pleasant, when a rebel idol - whether
with a guitar, a movie camera, or a pen – who has emerged from the stupid
youth suddenly pops up in military uniform.
The work of the official-freethinkers achieved the status of KGB waste
paper. It became clear, that the free thinking had been ordered and
assigned, something that, by definition, has no nominal price – so-la-la ,
just an another method to make fools of fractious humans before destroying
The secret services treat the film with special tenderness: up to now
no-one has described the Soviet film landings in the west, when the system
suddenly throws Tarkovsky, Ioseliani and Konchalovsky out of the country.
The first two – into countries best “prepared” by the KGB, into Italy and
France; the third one into the very lair of the enemy, the United States.
At first sight it was only Konchalovsky who was able to complete his task,
and who now enjoys the fruits of its activity in Moscow.
At first sight – however, you already realise, what first sight means
I assure you, for it makes no difference to the victim who kills him -
whether it’s a mullah, or a Vanya in uniform, a Mаu-Mаu Tse Tung or an
executioner from Hitler’s era. None of that has anything to do with film.
Exactly: it has nothing to do with the film. And why not? Because it
seemed to be a film, but it has turned out that there isn’t any film -
anything you want, but no film.
And what do you expect, if mullahs, the KGB, Chinese party officials,
western producers - have we left anyone out - make these
And what films are you expecting from them?
Director’s Intention – How
Call for a blind poet, my dear, for someone who will sing you a bitter
song about the secret of light.
Talk about focal lengths, write a song of 500mm, bow down to the lens
which was bent by that strange genius, the idler, who, peering down from
his balcony enjoys a distant girl in another’s bedroom. No borders, no
special services, no police can stop block the lens, it is more tender
than any animal.
It’s the grain that’s the problem, but what can grind/cut it better than
the air, the icy light.
Once I briefly mentioned that I am not one of those who much appreciate
the consciously drawn/planned and tightly produced film – whether my own
or, still less someone else’s - particularly, if the film, the project
which dives deep into reality, is actually realised.
If you like, film is a dialogue with reality, and you can’t write part two
– unless you fake it.
There’s something else that happens during this - dialogue, fucking,
whatever you want to call it – you discover that many of your plans,
questions, scripts/screenplays, ideas, opinions cannot stand up to that
contact with reality, and you reinvent it all on the spot.
You can call it DMF -Dynamic Film Making, you have to really, it is much
more exciting and much more exhausting than any improvisation, because you
aren’t doing on a safe stage (sometimes even with applause), but under
real, very brutal conditions - sometimes with criminals and murderers -
and I have been close to my physical end at least a dozen times.
In addition I work on the following principle: everything that comes into
the film must move me deeply, attack me, I must laugh, cry, become crazy;
if I cannot experience the film intensively that way, then I don’t make
it. I don’t believe in films which calm you emotionally or spiritually -
at best they are cerebral emanations or rather, bubbles,
Third: each shot must easily clear the cinematographic bar, which I put
high; if it can’t do that do, it lands in the garbage.
And fourth, it’s not primarily stories or scripts, not characters, or
philosophies, not actors, not social ideas, not ideas in general, not
themes that interest me in a film; what interests me above all in a film
is the film itself, it must be a physical-spiritual-aesthetic-filmic
experience, one that’s either there or it’s not. That’s what I know, and
where it comes from – nobody really knows where it comes from, least of
those who teach it. If the film is there, it is not because it has been
defined by the audience, not by the producer/director, not by ratings, not
in Cannes or in LA, no, it is realised through the film itself, in the
context of the film, by every film, every film that has already been made
and by every film that’s going to be made in the future, because there is
a constant dialogue going on between all films, including those as yet
To recognize this deep secret reality and law of film, and to obey, yes,
even to serve them - that is what I call Ontological Film Making.
The whole of film is a very strange, peculiar, sometimes gay, sometimes
explosive, mixture compounded of reality, and what we call feature, acted,
If you join a gang of bandits/ criminals/ bunch of gangsters and act away
without saying that you are acting, and the playing and the gang members/
bandits/ feel you are a real person, treat you as such, what is it? - it
is no longer acting in the usual sense, rather working as an undercover
agent – isn’t it?
You have to cross the generally-agreed borders “in front of” and “behind”
the camera properly/ in the proper way (that the only important thing),
and some jumpcuts/cuts are very valuable in cinematographic sense for me,
they say a lot about film making, and for me they say a great deal more
than all the English theatre literature about ghosts – suddenly you’re in
a different dimension. I don’t mean each and every jump cut comes back to:
which jump? – GENERALLY SPEAKING I AM AGAINST SLOPPY CUTTING – THIS IS
SOMETHING TOTALLY DIFFERENT.
The attitude some people have, the compulsion to understand everything is,
I think, inadequate, to put it mildly, completely out of place, because
for me, when I understand everything I get bored, and doze off immediately
- I need something unknown, impossible, new. I want to say, it is not a
lesson, but then, I’ve also got some objections to traditional teaching. A
lot of people think that at least the author understands his work –
however, the honest ones the least – at best they ask honest questions. I
am no cleverer than my spectators and it would be embarrassing arrogance
to pretend to instruct humanity in a film - at best: to ask questions, to
begin a conversation, to offer an invitation to a marvellous, ecstatic,
unforgettable, truthful, cinematographic journey – all the rest is up to
the spectator, and that is then totally out of control – all the audience
then sees its own films.