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"Territory": there is life there

"Territory": there is life there

Alexander Melnik

director, member of the Guild of Film Directors of Russia

Next year, the country will see the release of the feature film "Territory" - a screen version of the novel of the same name by Oleg Kuvaev, which tells about the discovery of a grand alluvial gold deposit in Chukotka in the 1940s. In an exclusive interview with EastRussia about the stellar composition of the film, the stars of the Far East and the special role of the work in his life, the film's director Alexander Melnik told.

- Most people of the older generation, who in the 1970s came to the east from different parts of the union state - Ukraine, Belarus, Tajikistan - to develop territories, read Oleg Kuvaev's novel "Territory" and were inspired by it. The novel went through 30 editions, including the three million circulation in the "Roman-Gazeta". The plot of the work boils down to the discovery of gold deposits in Chukotka in the middle of the last century. Our film of the same name is a memory of the people who worked in these territories at that time. Thanks to them, we are now drawing from the depths of the Far East and the Arctic, gold, various minerals, oil and gas.

- Alexander Vladimirovich, perhaps in today's realities the film "Territory" should, like Kuvaev's book in the past, encourage people to go to work in the Far East?

- You see, it is impossible to attract a Russian person - in this multinational concept the word “Russian” - to attract only with money. We explored the North in a different way, not because there were big earnings there, but because we wanted to do it. We went there with joy! I am a hydrologist by profession and in the 1970s I often visited the Far East. I met a huge number of happy people there - young, talented, educated, who lived an amazing life, because they had everything. The main thing is that they had a world filled with content.

Since then nothing has changed. First you need to go, see with your own eyes and fall in love. If they come to this territory for the ruble, not all will get accustomed. Examples from modern life confirm this.

- What is the main theme of the film?

- The main theme that we tried to touch in our film is that we, possessing such a colossal wealth of territories, are not even able to think that we could live really happily. Now we are looking for material benefits in everything. And a person is happy if he found love or lives in an interesting business. When he has everything, but does not have something important, then it is impossible for him to gain a foothold in one place or another, he is always in search. Therefore, more and more often people leave for the West and do not find the most important thing.

- Why did this substitution of concepts take place?

- Because the consumer civilization, in order to survive, is aimed at a constant increase in the number of goods sold. We work to buy and vice versa. We do not have time to stop to read books, to concentrate on something important. We are now being told that our cinema is not in the format: people come to the cinema to have fun, and you make us think. They say that we are filming that is not of interest to young people. This is not true. We not only force us to think - some people cry after the film, some have a change in mood. That is, with our work, we still reanimate the soul and moods. A person suddenly realizes that what he is doing is necessary not only for him alone.

We shot films in Provideniya Bay in Chukotka and on the Putorana plateau in the Krasnoyarsk Territory. A paradoxical situation: a lot of people told us stories that some person moved to the mainland, for example, having built a house in Gelendzhik, but “dies” due to the fact that he lacks this boundless space. He, accustomed to enjoying freedom all his life, returns back to the Far East: it seems to him that without the ocean, hills, wind, fish - all this polyphony - life is over. And this is the fundamental characteristic of the Russian people.

Now the moment of new development of the Far Eastern territories is coming. We have a happy country: we need not look at the West, but invest all our resources in our country. To build an ideological system of social relations so that we build something fundamental on our territory. The power of art can help us in this, including cinema, which will tell a person about the cherished lands where one can strive. This is what is written in the film in small letters. Although we made a film about geologists, this film is about pilots, and about cooks, and about accountants who work in the most remote parts of the Far East. Our actors came to the set, drank water from the river and became different before our eyes - this is all for real, there is life. Do you know why birds fly north in summer to hatch their chicks? Because they need melted, clean, living water. They could continue to incubate their offspring in their favorite swamp, where they spend the winter. And in our time, just like these birds, we made great migrations, with admiration we did what seemed impossible to other peoples.

- What inspired you to create "Territory" - a book or a global idea?

- Everything is interconnected. When I was in the last years of the institute, a book came out. It was read to her throughout the country and beyond. After that I worked on expeditions in different parts of the Far East and Siberia: in Chukotka, Kamchatka, Sakhalin, in Primorye, Yakutia, Krasnoyarsk Territory, Yamalo-Nenets and Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrugs, Murmansk Region. After you have been there at least once, you will no longer need any additional explanations. In the evening by the fire, you will dream of the eternal: above you - the stars, next to - an endless space of sand and water.

Kuvaev's book has always been in me, and when my comrades-in-arms appeared, fired up with the idea of ​​making a film, we started to work. By the way, the premiere of the film will take place in February 2015 - to the 40th anniversary of the release of the novel, and in April - the release of the screens.

- That is, you fell into the trend of "turning to the east" announced by the federal authorities?

- When we started working in 2010, there was no trend at all. Filming took place in 2011-2012. And only next year the film will be released. It's a long story. I thought it would take place faster, but the filming process was very difficult - with life in tents in summer and winter, in the very East of the country - by the ocean. It was logistically difficult. There were three expeditions in total, 1,5–2 months each: winter, summer, spring. And there were different situations. For example, once a bear ate a reindeer. It's good that we managed to shoot scenes with their participation. It was very cold, it was hard, scary, the cars fell through the ice, the actors swam in the icy water.

- Did you rely on famous actors?

- We relied on good actors - on actors who are real. Often the concepts of "real" and "famous" coincide, often not. The actor may be famous, as he was put in a lineup, promoted, but as a dramatic actor he may not represent anything. We tried to take people who were able to live the fate of the hero on the screen. And all the actors without exception: Konstantin Lavronenko, Grigory Dobrygin, Egor Beroev, Ksenia Kutepova, Evgeny Tsyganov - managed to cope with the task.

- In your opinion, has the actors' idea of ​​the Far East changed?

- Naturally. In the life of any actor, the situation may no longer repeat when he finds himself in such conditions. It is experience and enjoyment. This is a drive.

There were probably people who refused to go on the expedition. We are structured in such a way that we first count money, and then think through life options. A person who lives somewhere in the Lower Tunguska or in the remote area in the north of the Khabarovsk Territory did not notice the fluctuations in the exchange rate. Today he went hunting, tomorrow he will fish. And if he is still a little philosopher, he is really happy. This is a world that is built a little differently than our world of big cities, in which there is nothing left but money. We hope our film will show people living in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Orel, Voronezh that you can fly to the Far East like birds: get drunk water, work, raise children and return home happy.

- Please share your recipe for happiness in the big city.

- The main recipe was not invented by me - one must learn to love others. Because we often live with hatred of people: stepped on our feet, cut on the road - the social system divides the people. There is no room for love - hence the great misfortune in people's lives. If you tried to give at least a little from yourself (which is common in the North: left the house for a traveler - left a few crackers and salt), then you have already shared with someone. We are accustomed only to take and, at best, imitate our disposition towards people by charity. A society based on mistrust and dislike cannot survive in the northern regions. Maybe people will become a little kinder and feel love for their homeland after familiarizing themselves with good books and films.

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