“I play scum, like Strelkov.” Vyacheslav Dovzhenko spoke about the film “Bucha” and the scandal surrounding it
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A sharp statement by the Film Academy following the presentation of the video for the film “Butcha” caused a scandal. Actor Vyacheslav Dovzhenko, who plays in the film, shared with Focushis thoughts about the film, the situation around it and the film industry as a whole
At the end of September there was a scandal around the future feature film “Bucha”.
The film tells about the tragic events that took place in the territories occupied by the Russian Federation – in Bucha, Irpen, Gostomel and Vorzel. The picture is based on a real story about how a volunteer, a citizen of Kazakhstan, saved 203 local residents. The video shows the execution of Ukrainian soldiers in Bucha in front of women, old people and children.
After the premiere of the video, the Ukrainian Film Academy strongly opposed the film: “The depiction of tragic events in feature films at a time when the war is going on entails the risk of opportunistic use of the tragedy.”
The main negative role – the Russian executioner-occupier – is played by the popular Ukrainian actor Vyacheslav Dovzhenko. In 2018, he received the Golden Dziga from the hands of the same Film Academy for the role of the nationalist cyborg Serpnya in the film Cyborgs. In addition to this landmark work, he has 55 series and feature films under his belt.
FocusI decided to find out from Vyacheslav Dovzhenko how he feels about his character and the scandal associated with the creation of the painting “Bucha”.
Vyacheslav, tell us how you got into the project “Bucha”?
I had a certain agreement with the producer of “Buchi”. There is no full-length film script yet, only a video has been shot. His presentation was conceived as an action to attract investors. If everything goes well, that's another matter. And now they have begun to discuss or condemn something that does not exist yet, which is ridiculous.
I don't think it's easy to play a Russian punitive invader?
The character I play embodies the ideology of fascism. This is a collective image of ideological rashists. This is not a fool, not an alcoholic. This is scum, like Strelkov. The modern version of fascism – rashism – is in the head. This is a story of how a certain person, who was originally a kind of White Guard in his soul, was able to turn into an absolute animal in a rather short period. A transformation took place with him: from a human being to an inhuman one. And this path of his under the influence of ideology is my main message.
If all this is in the script – ok, I will take on this role in the future – this is something that we talked about in detail with the producer. If these conditions are not met, he will take on someone else for this role.
So, the film will show the biography of this anti-hero?
He has a background: he fought in Chechnya. And the main idea: how ideology corrupts a person from the inside. And, of course, there can be no good ending for such a character. All such types are lost sheep. For us, Ukrainians, everything is clear here, but the film is more focused on the European audience. Among them, there is also enough of this “not everything is so simple” – Russian propaganda works there too. Their propaganda is aimed at destroying the European community. And we want to show such a movie so that no one would have a desire to “get sick” with such an ideology.
Are you surprised by the reaction of the Film Academy?
No, I was not surprised by this reaction. But I do not answer them, because I understand that society is now generally “overheated” with emotions: why be surprised, there is a war in the yard. Every day there is not good news. And today it makes no sense to argue at all, because there is no subject of dispute – the film itself.
But after all, their reaction is almost Soviet: they haven’t seen the project as a whole yet, but we are already condemning it? Or is the trailer that impressive?
I think that there is a completely different component inside this scandal. Now I will not voice it. One way or another, today there is nothing to react to.
But after all, the Film Academy initiated two public discussions on this topic: at the Kharkiv MeetDocs festival, which is now taking place in the capital because of the war, and at the Week of Critics at the end of October.
I don't think these will be constructive discussions. How can they be such if there is no subject matter yet?
Are you currently involved in any film project?
Now there is no cinema. Everyone knows and understands this. But I really want, of course, to start doing something in the film industry. In my personal opinion, cinema is now necessary, like any other sphere of culture. This is the platform where we can communicate with the younger generation. If we take the film industry, then it is precisely designed, first of all, for the young. In order not to lose them.
Now the premieres of the films “Sniper. White Raven” and “I work in a cemetery” have been successfully completed.
Yes. And we, at the Kharkiv MeetDocs festival, will present at the Zhovten cinema the film “The House of the Word” – about a house in Kharkov, specially built for writers, most of whom were repressed in the 1930s. Of course, all these premiere films were shot before the war “However, in a year we will simply find ourselves without films for distribution. But to prevent this from happening, they need to be put into production now. This means that we need to continue working on scripts, on replenishing budgets – this is a huge layer of work.
Are we losing them for our cultural field?
Absolutely. Therefore, now more than ever it is necessary to launch the film industry and other areas of culture. It is necessary to prepare a new national cultural product – this is an important work for the future of our country.