Russian filmmaker Sergei Dvortsevoy’s acclaimed drama Tulpan was shot on location in the Betpak Dala in southern Kazakhstan. The film (read my review) follows the plight of Asa (Askhat Kuchencherekov), a young man who dreams of finding a wife and one day owning his own herd. Shortly after Tulpan was completed it premiered in Cannes in 2008 where it won the Un Certain Regard Prize, paving the way for a slew of gongs and accolades from film festivals and film critics across the world. In Australia for a few days to promote Tulpan, Dvortsevoy sat down for a chat with Cinetology.
What sort of response has Tulpan received from Australian journalists?
Oh, good. I had good reviews. I read some good reviews in Sydney and also had a very good response from audiences at Q and A’s. They went very well. Very good questions. Very warm reactions.
I believe you’re staying at the Como Hotel in Melbourne. That’s a pretty swish hotel – it’s quite a lot different to the locations you filmed in Tulpan, isn’t it?
(Laughing). Yes. A lot.
I knew before I watched Tulpan that you came from a background in documentary, so I wasn’t surprised to find that the film felt very realistic. You obviously value really authentic films. When you watch a Hollywood movie do you get frustrated by how contrived and fake they are? Can you imagine ever making an unrealistic movie yourself?
I have got a new proposal to work in the U.S. to make a film, a backing from independent producer in Los Angeles. But no I cannot imagine, because it is very hard to. I don’t like to control the movie completely, you know? To follow the script and just to illustrate the script. I am happy if I add some surprising moments and I like very much to change the script. I don’t like it to be like a factory, you know.
What were the reasons you decided to move from documentary filmmaking to fictional filmmaking?
In documentary it is not possible to go deeper because you have things like private relationships. I understand that I can make 10 different films about one person. You can make 10 different pictures about me, and you can show me however you want. I can look clever or silly or kind or evil. The thing with documentary is I can make whatever I want with people. I don’t like this and I don’t like that responsibility. It’s, you know, private life. So I prefer to make fiction over non-fiction films because it is imagination, but sometimes real life also. You create every second of this reality and you create it with actors and dialogue.