Once in Trubchevsk as seen by Larisa Sadilova

Picture of the movie Once in Trubchevsk © DR

The author of six feature films, Russian director Larisa Sadilova hadn’t shot a film in recent years. In Once in Trubchevsk, set in the countryside of contemporary Russia, she casts a tender eye upon her characters. Once in Trubchevsk is presented in Un Certain Regard.

What inspired you to work on the film?
I once knew a true couple of lovers who had only one opportunity to meet, and in order to do so, they rode in a truck roundtrip from Bryansk to Moscow. This story impressed me. “Wow, how romantic!” I thought. But that was all I knew about them.

Describe your working methods and atmosphere on the set.
I like to create during filming, and incorporate whatever I create into the film at that moment, because I really think that's right. I sincerely like real people in front of the camera; no one can do it better. It was difficult for the professional actors who starred in this the film because they had to adjust to real people. And simple people are very organic; they don’t overact and overplay their roles. Creating something during filming is interesting, and it seems to me that if I didn’t switch on my imagination, I wouldn’t be so keen on making movies. Stupidly following the script seems so boring. Of course, we need some direction, but we still need freedom within the script’s scenes.

A few words about the actors.
I saw Christina Schneider, who plays Anna, a few years ago at the Nika Awards ceremony presented by the Russian Academy of Cinema. She appeared on stage there with a song. She studied at RATI (Russian Academy of Theatre Arts) and had already starred in the film Shagal – Malevich by Aleksander Mitta. She played the part of Bella, the wife and muse of Chagall. Christina perfectly fits the role of Anna, the beloved one of Yegor Barinov. There is a lack of actresses like her in our cinema, which is dominated by more glamorous models. Egor Barinov is not only an actor, but also a director. He is a deeply sensitive person and an intelligent actor. When working, I sometimes set nearly impossible tasks for him, but he managed to do everything! I first saw Maria Semyonova (Tamara, the trucker’s wife) in my colleague’s film, and I’ve remembered her ever since. I remember thinking back then that if I ever had a role for her, I wanted her to join the cast. And so this opportunity presented itself. She is very sensual, like a raw nerve. Maria can show the nuances of the senses, make them visible. I filmed Yury Kiselev (Anna’s husband in the film) in my three previous projects. I think he is a very talented and promising film actor. He takes each role very seriously, and doesn’t slip into clichés. He lives each role in a different way, paying meticulous attention to the appearance, costume, and intonation of his character.

What did you learn while working on this film?
I have learned to believe in miracles. I don’t know if this film would have ever existed without some sort of miracle. It came to life in an unusual way, and it took a long time. I’m convinced time and again that there is nothing more interesting in this world than the human being.

What inspired you to choose the directing profession? Where do you get your inspiration?
Since the age of five, I knew that I was going to be an actress. After school I entered VGIK, an acting and directing workshop that had the best teachers in the world: director Sergei Gerasimov and actress Tamara Makarova. Today, VGIK is named after Gerasimov. Lectures were common for actors and directors. Back then, however, I was afraid to even think about directing because the directors seemed like celestial beings to me! But then I finally got up the courage to do it. I became a director due to my initial career as an actress. And I feel that my inspiration comes from my master, Sergei Gerasimov, and his films. He opened up new horizons for me.

What is your opinion on the level of the film industry in your country?

I think that the Ministry of Culture incorrectly distributes the funding for cinema. More often than not, unknown people, producers and directors receive the money. Worthy scripts can’t find financial backing, and people have to seek out private investors. The state financing system is quite flawed, and it must be changed. Still, there is one positive thing regarding the State's cinema policy: the Ministry of Culture is now providing money to first-time filmmakers, and this is very important.

Tell us about your next project.

I plan to shoot my next film once again in my homeland, in the Bryansk region. The plot is based on the true story of a 65-year-old Russian woman who, in this day and age (not an easy one for poor people), is doing her best to survive.