«Handmade» press conference report
On October 2, 2020, the press conference dedicated to the film «Handmade» by Russian director Evgeny Grigoriev took place. The picture is part of the Documentary Competition of the 42nd Moscow International Film Festival. Director and producer Evgeny Grigoriev and co-author Vladimir Golovnev took part in the press conference.
The protagonists of the movie are people of a rare, invaluable kind. They are called “the salt of the earth”. It’s they who produce the essential basics of life on the planet. They mine the ore, they fish, make steel, prepare food, build planes and houses. It’s a film about the people who have something tangible, created with their own hands at the end of every working day. But the work of the protagonists of the movie is not limited to building the material basis of our life from metal, concrete or wood, they give sense to our life, they give us hope.
«This story started back in 2012, when I met a member of parliament, who said that one person involved in manual labour feeds eight people who aren’t: security guards, directors, well, all those who don’t produce handmade goods. And when this proportion becomes 1 to 12, the country won’t cope with it. I started thinking about this a lot. However, we didn’t really want to tell a moralizing story of someone who works hard, as compared to someone else. We thought about it a lot and came up with the concept that we would like to see the joy, the meaning of life, the needs of these people; why they see their activities as important. We wanted to find the core of pleasure in it for them,» the director said.
As Grigoriev said, eight years had passed since the initial concept until the film's premiere. The film was made by several directors.
«Initially I wanted to shoot it all myself, but the fate had something else in store: we weren’t able to travel from Murmansk to Vladivostok, and I offered our friends to take part in the project. First, I compiled creative regulations for everyone, with the outline of the characters drafted there. We chose 14 directors and sent them across the country, saying they had room for error. It was essential, because in documentary film, you can’t always predict if something will work. In the end, seven people succeeded, and seven failed. I didn’t want to make an almanac, the footage was supposed to be a whole entity. The form allowed us to give each story the needed timing. We had to make snippets 7 to 15 minutes long, and some made 6, while others shot 16, but in the end it worked. And if it wasn’t working, we edited it quite mercilessly,» Evgeny Grigoriev said.
Vladimir Golovnev, in his turn, not only helped Grigoriev make the final version of the picture, but also directed one of the stories dedicated to the person who is apriest by day and an ER physician by night.
«If I had been the director from the start, I would have cut it more, Evgeny is kinder in this regard. In the end, it was a coincidence that glued it all together. Masha — film’s co-author and a character in one of the parts — didn’t only give birth to a daughter, but also attempted at shooting eight parts of the film. That's why she united everyone and everything,» Golovnev said.
He added that «Handmade» is valuable for him because it also brought documentary film directors together.
«Documentary film scene is creatively fragmented, because a non-fiction director is not a standalone filmmaker, but rather a film studio in oneself. This project, though, is an attempt at building an environment, an eco-system, where various people from all over the county, with diverse directorial techniques, meet, exchange energy. There is a certain competitive element about it, and the entire process takes place in a sort of “soup” that gives more energy. It’s an important social instrument for the environment,» Vladimir Golovnev concluded.