Ukrainian director Anna Buryachkova, awaiting the Venice premiere of her new film “Forever-Forever,” will soon turn to documentary “Will We Feel Again,” she revealed to Variety in Italy.
The film will see her reunite with Natalia Libet, producing for 2Brave Productions.
“In Ukraine, this is the time when you make documentaries, obviously. But I couldn’t picture myself at the frontline: there are enough wonderful people doing that. I want to concentrate on our inner lives instead,” she said.
“We are not allowing ourselves to feel and it affects everything: our bodies, our relationships. ‘Will we ever feel again?’ This is the question I keep hearing all the time. We are trying to smile, but we are consumed by darkness. We are wondering if we will be able to unlock these emotions again once the war is finally over.”
In the doc, she will explore the emotional ramifications of the ongoing conflict.
“It’s about what we are denying ourselves right now. About how our personality changes when we go through catastrophic events. As a nation, it feels like we have been going through them every 10 years, but this? This is not something we have experienced before.”
Buryachkova – who is also working on new feature “The Hunter and the Hunted” – will opt for body language instead of “talking heads,” with her characters trying to express their feelings through dance.
“I want to carefully choreograph these scenes and show that sometimes, when they can’t speak, people can turn to dance. It’s not easy to say: ‘I can’t feel anymore.’ We think it’s not the right time for breakups, not the right time to fall in love or explore our sexuality,” she said, mentioning some of her protagonists.
“There is a man who used to be a queer diva. Now, he is a volunteer hiding his exuberant personality. Not because he is afraid, but because we think we can’t be experiencing joy. There is a musician helping out as a medic. Instead of singing, she keeps washing blood off her car. All these talented people can’t create anymore, because ‘it’s not the time.’”
It’s not the time to party either, with Kyiv’s rave culture also paying the price.
“It has gotten so big in the last couple of years, so powerful. Now, it’s almost non-existent. I guess this film is also about not being able to be in the moment.”
In the meantime, Buryachkova returns to the 1990s and teenage angst in “Forever-Forever,” selected for Venice’s Horizons Extra and sold by Germany’s Pluto Film.
In the film, Tonia (Alina Cheban) heads to a new school and tries her best to fit in. But new friendships and new loves quickly get complicated, threatening her sense of safety.
“I really think [as Ukrainian filmmakers] we have to show we are not just survivors. But, in a way, it’s still related to the war. My presence here at the festival makes it related to war. It’s the story about the past life, but it’s connected to who we are now,” she observed.
“Usually, when I cast my films, we do this ‘acting meditation’. I bring people to the very bottom of their emotions and then I lift them up. It really unlocks something. We did that on ‘Forever-Forever’ as well.”
She is likely to use the same technique on “Will We Feel Again,” also inspired by Uzbek artist Saodat Ismailova.
“Her work is about pure emotion. I wouldn’t know how to make a ‘normal’ documentary anyway, so it’s going to be raw and honest. And it has to be made now, because later, these feelings will change,” she said.
But her film won’t be just about the Ukrainians, she stressed.
“It’s not the only war happening right now and we are not the only traumatized people. All these events, they can break you or you can shut down. At the moment, it feels like there are no other options.”
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