«Homo Sperans» press conference report
On October 4, 2020, the press conference dedicated to the film «Homo Sperans» by Russian director Andrey Konchalovsky took place. The film participates in the Documentary Competition of the 42nd Moscow International Film Festival. Director Andrey Konchalovsky took part in the press conference.
“Homo Sperans” is a portrait of a Russian person composed of many images. The film's characters are common people who answer the universal questions: what is the purpose of our existence, what is happiness, what is means to be a patriot. Their strength is in their ability to keep their chins up and always believe in a good outcome.
«We set a goal to find people who have certain point of view that would stand out. It is somewhat about a national trait, but our plan was to find people who gain a foothold in his situation. There is a great philosopher called Viktor Frankl, I studied his works while making «Paradise». One of his books is titled «Man's Search For Meaning», and Frankl bases his life philosophy on the idea that he can die any day. He is one of the people who teach us to see the eventual goal in any situation. I don't know a wiser examination of one's own fate that his,» Konchalovsky said.
While working on the film, the director was interested in finding various people who would answer eternal questions.
«There are people who are boring and there are those who aren't, but they sometimes can't answer in an exciting way. All in all, there are no boring people, there are boring storytellers who show these people,» the director said.
Konchalovsky said that working on documentaries is different from making fiction films.
«Bresson has this great expression «cow's eye», and «monkey's eye» also exists. Do you know what's different about them? A monkey follows what's happening, while the cow doesn't, it only sees what is in the frame, in its field of vision. These are two principles of cinema, because it is largely about what is happening in, but also outside the frame. So attempts to understand the world through documenting reality are a convention. With the help of documentary footage, one can create an absolute fake. A building can consist of golden bricks, but might collapse anyway. At the same time, manure bricks can form a great construction: you just take a camera and film something, and it becomes an attempt at world cognition. Although this separation is also fake, because a film can consist of real elements, but be a fiction; or it can be completely isolated from reality, but work well,» Konchalovsky said.
Nevertheless, he admitted that «form plays a role».
«Over the past decade, I've been thinking about us filmmakers having devalued the image; how cinema, especially fiction film, is turning into «monkey's eye». It's like the difference between taking a thousand dollars with one-dollar bills or with two 500-dollar bills. The quality is different. The same applies to image. It can have a high price if you see and select the necessary material as a director or as an editor. Sometimes this selection should be cruel and difficult to ensure the quality of the image. A film is born in editing. One can shoot fantastic material and fail to edit the picture or kill it; or one can shoot some ordinary footage and put together a formidable film in editing. It is the combination of images that give birth to meaning,» the director said.
According to Konchalovsky, «any film is a distortion of reality because you can't really pass reality on in art, although you can try to pass on a part of the gist».
«Any art is a lie, but great art is a lie that helps you understand the truth of life,» Konchalovsky said.
He also spoke out about national character.
«Russian conscience is that of a peasant. A Russian is still a peasant, because bourgeoisie lacked as a class in Russia. It’s basically the class that gains political independence by getting money. In Russia, though, the capital was in the hands of the government. And when I’m talking about a peasant’s mentality, I don’t mean it as an insult. It just has certain characteristics – close circle of trust, a neighbor’s personal growth treated as a threat to one’s own well-being, power as a way to money,» the director said.
However, Russians have been lacking one thing over centuries – and it is time.
«Russia has been developing four times slower than Italy, because we live in the cold and have vast territories. And social thinking thrives in warm and cramped locations. Any culture develops under the influence of three components – geography, climate and religion,» Konchalovsky concluded.