Russian director and producer Boris Khlebnikov spoke to the journalists of the 51st FEST as a panelist of the FEST Pro programme, which runs until 5 March.
Guest of the 51st FEST, Khlebnikov is the director of the film ‘Free Floating’ (Svobodnoe plavanie) and the TV series ‘An Ordinary Woman’ (Obychnaya zhenshchina), which was among
the best three Russian series of 2018, and he creates within the film company ‘Look Film Turkey’ founded by Alexander Plotnikov. This is his first time participating at a festival as a producer.
‘It is the first time I am present at a festival as a producer, I usually come as a director promoting a new film’, said Khlebnikov, adding that panels such as the one at FEST were very important and necessary and encouraged thinking about new, future projects.
Asked if the film could do without co-productions today, the director said that this was a topic he would talk about at the FEST Pro programme:
‘Most of my films were co-productions, but the idea, the story, the script, and not the money, are more important here. Funds can always be found in the end if you have a good idea’, he believes. In his opinion, the demands that the current film moment imposes on the directors is to shoot more and more close-up and medium shots, because an increasing number of consumers will watch a film or an episode of a series in the subway or public transport and on the screen of a mobile phone, which also changes the requirements of filmmaking. He believes that the situation with the covid virus pandemic has accelerated the natural process of cinema;s demise.
‘It is quite clear to me that 90 percent of the audience will watch my films on tablets, laptops, mobile phones, it is easier for them, while traveling somewhere, than to go to the cinemas’, the director said.
Ivan Aranđelović, the moderator of the conversation with filmmakers at FEST, disagreed with this statement and cited the fact that during the pandemic, one Serbian film had had more than a million viewers in cinemas in Serbia and the region, as well as that the Hollywood mega-hit ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ had brought the world audience back to cinemas.
‘A film such as ‘Top Gun’ is not just a film, but a kind of attraction, there is a lot of action, there is a lot of music in it. I do not mind watching such a film in the cinema with so much noise from the audience around me, while they are drinking juices and snacking on popcorn. If I, however, want to see an auteur film, I will not have the patience to watch it while many people are talking and whispering around me in the cinema, it will annoy me a lot. I will rather sacrifice watching it on the big screen and choose to watch it in peace, carefully at home; the Russian guest stated.
The topic of Netflix and similar streaming services were also touched upon in the conversation: ‘They are quite good, that is, superb, I see that in Europe and America, but also in the world, so many TV series are developing quickly’, said Khlebnikov and added that TV series could allow themselves to market loose forms such as novels, where characters develop through each episode and stories, as in literature.
"A film, by contrast, can tell only one story, while television series can create an entire world", the Russian filmmaker concluded.