While driving to sign the papers to end his father’s life support, Andrey reflects on memorable moments between the two of them.
Interview with Director Gleb Osatinski
Congratulations! Why did you make your film?
Thank you for having me. There has been a lot going on and I just wanted to make it and dedicate it to my father.
Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?
Why would someone want to read a poem? Poetry touches us one way or another with some ways that are hard to describe. We find connections with things that are unrelated sometimes but emotional to think about and be connected. Sometimes reality deafening our feelings or memories because we must continue we are set to do, but with poetry, we stop and we think what these lines really mean and we connect with what in between.
How do personal and universal themes work in your film?
It's a very personal story. Once I was driving with my family on the thruway hundreds of miles from home, and I received a phone call from my sister who was in tears, she was saying that my dad nearly died because he was eating at home and something got into his throat, and he started to suffocate. My mother was there, but she could not do anything, they called 911, and when they came home, he was without oxygen for about 20 minutes. They tried to save him, but he was irresponsive, and by the time they brought him to the hospital, he was in a deep coma. I hear this, and I am on three-way call with the doctor who asks me if it is ok for me if my dad's heart stops, is it ok, to open a chest, and take his heart out and help him this way, and they just wanted us to give them permission to do so. I said, yes, keep him alive, whatever it takes. And I was pressing the pedal, trying to get there faster, but I could not drive more quickly because I had my wife and a baby, Eva, she was barely a year then, on the back of my car, and we still were miles away from home. All I could do is driving and hope that I can see him alive again. When I finally arrived, I ran into the hospital. He was alive and still in a coma. I remember that moment entering his room, he was connected to all these machines, wires, computers, and his chest doesn't move on itself, it is pushed by a mechanism with this mechanical, strange almost metallic noise. There is a monitor that monitors his brain activity. It was completely flat. But for some reason, I didn't want to believe that he was going away. So I started to talk to him, and then, I took my iPhone and started to play music into his ear. Checking the monitor, it wasn't changing at all. I kept doing this for a week. I would come over and play music into his ear. Sometimes the doctor would come and check on him, and he wanted to sign some paperwork. And I did. And I kept playing music and nurses thanked me for playing music in the hospital. Somehow it became a routine to me. I would stay there for an entire day watching my dad inhale, and exhale with equal intervals, but then there were strange movements, which doctor explain were reflexes. But one day I came to the hospital again, and I put the iPhone close to his ear and played it back, and there was a spike of brain activity on the screen, after which the line was flat still. I ran to the doctor, and I screamed, that I saw a spike, he came, but the line looked flat again, but I knew what I saw. Next day, when I came back to the hospital, they said that my dad woke up. I think it was some sort of magic. I don't know how time went, or how long I spent; the feeling is entirely intuitive. I remember only that during these times, I had a lot of memories. A lot of things that were vivid and not so vivid, but one thing I remember very well, I remembered our dog and how he was gone and how tragic it was to lose it for me. And I could not think about how all this connected with him and myself and how it is even relevant. But somehow remembering that pain and being able to overcome it over time, made me want to make this film. It is a story about loss, grief, and acceptance of whatever comes our way. This is who we are; we are pre-wired to get through, no matter what happens in our lives. We find our ways.
How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development?
I have been accepted to Columbia MFA Film program, and this script was evolving through the program. We had a class called Screen to Script taught by Katherine Dieckmann. I am very thankful for her guidance through the process and the writing of this script because it evolved from my first version of the story. I am also grateful for my classmates who were in that class. Their comments where they expressed their feelings towards the story helped me to reshape it. Overall, the way I am thinking about the story changes for me. It isn't my first short film. I have made other shorts before. This school helps me to look at my work more critically and accentuate the story more than anything else. Which is something I am trying these days? But at the end of the day, I also know that there is no one way to tell the story, and I am still searching for this way. I think what it means for me is always question things.
What type of feedback have you received so far?
It's been mixed feedback. Some people laughed at the film even. So, it is interesting to see different reactions. Overall, I am pleased to see the response from someone who I think highly as artists, and this means a lot to me. I feel that different people seek different things in films they watch. For some, it becomes a technical challenge. You know, this shot is too expositional, or that shot should not go after this one: this and that. I realized once I become a filmmaker, I watch films like that too. It becomes a challenge to accept the film as what it is for the audience. It is much more analysis than experience. When I made this film, I wanted it to be an experience, but this is an experience for everyone. So, it's ok with me.
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
I love everyone's comments; I love listening to them and love to hear others point of view. It always gives me a different perspective. I don't have to agree with it. But I want to see how their perspective is different from mine. Also, sometimes comments don't have anything concrete, so for these comments, I live blank space, but sometimes even those comments can give me a hint about something in the film I haven't thought about. I heard someone's comment, I don't like this music, this doesn't help me at all, but I am still thankful for the honesty, and I would instead take these types of comments than just praising how great things are in the film. I don't mind when people give me their ideas. I love new ideas, and I love when people prescribe. It is up to me to take it or leave it for my work.
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com?
Every film isn't just the work of one person. I want to thank all my collaborators. Great lenser Peter Eliot Buntaine, Greg Smith, for his amazing sound design, my delicate artist and colorist Gabriele Turchi who made this film feel and breath through his colors, most importantly my actors, Alex Notkin, Ella Ayberk, Dixon J. Byrne, Aidan Hughes. I worked with Alex, Ella, and Dixon on multiple projects and I hope it is going to be our ongoing collaboration in the future. Melanie May, our fearless production designer. Our first time in front of the camera Dylan Kzhywon. Huge thanks to Megan Huggins and Jungyoon, Kungyoon Kim my producers who put this film together through their tight grip on things and never let me down in the process. This film also shows how talented all these people are. I was lucky to have them, without them this film would not be possible.
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?
This film already has been picked up by Gonella Productions in France, and they are distributing four other films that I made. But, I would love to find more distributors or even show it online one day. I would love this film to be shown at the festivals and be commented on. After all, I think if we share our stories with each other, we are closer to each other and it is very important these days. I think a lot of people are suffering from depressions and lack of communications with each other. Tarkovsky once said that people are islands. I want these islands to connect and through experiencing the film it is possible.
What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?
This is going to be a World Premiere. I am excited about this screening. I am very excited that this will take place In Rhode Island Film Festival too. Thanks to George and Shawn who bring me back to the festival. I have been here for a couple of times with two other films that I made and they were received very well. I love the audience and I love people who organize this festival. I am grateful to be back and I am looking forward to this screening. What type of reception? I just generally think that people should take it for what it is, and stay in the moment for these eight minutes. Maybe after it recalls those who they love, stay close to them, feel that feeling again.
What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?
I just hope to hear what people thought by watching it and what did this film make them feel. It's important for me to hear if the film triggers emotions, any kinds of emotions and if it does, I feel, my work is done as a filmmaker.
Would you like to add anything else?
I hope that the audience will be interested in my work and follow me on IMDb or on my Facebook or Twitter. This way I know that my new work is anticipated and it gives me the energy to create more. It's important for me as a director to know that my work is appreciated.
What other projects are the key creatives developing or working on now?
There a few things that I am working on at the moment. One big project is called Timur's Promise. It is a feature-length script that I have been developing at Columbia and I am taking it next semester for the revision of the script. It's an interesting story of a family that has been living in Brighton Beach, New York. I am an immigrant myself, and I am longing for the story to tell about this world that feels very familiar to me. I just finished shooting and edited a rough cut of another short, called Outsiders, that touches on a similar topic. I was very excited to shoot it and work with Russian spoken actors - something I haven't done before. Another feature script that I am working on about Composers, father and son, and a TV pilot - I hope to write a TV series that touches on The Quantified Self movement. In the past, I used to be a physicist and I am curious about the connection quantification of life does to us. But first things first, showing this film and hoping it will touch people and move them. But, that's what I am working on.
Interview: July 2019
We Are Moving Stories embraces new voices in drama, documentary, animation, TV, web series, music video, women's films, LGBTQIA+, POC, First Nations, scifi, supernatural, horror, world cinema. If you have just made a film - we'd love to hear from you. Or if you know a filmmaker - can you recommend us? More info: Carmela
While driving to sign the papers to end his father’s life support, Andrey reflects on memorable moments between the two of them.
Director: Gleb Osatinski
Producer: Megan Higgins
Writer: Gleb Osatinski
About the writer, director and producer:
GLEB OSATINSKI's work as a director has screened at the Krakow, Roma Independent (Italy), Boston Underground, Los Angeles, New York, Atlanta, Tallgrass, Short Shorts and Asia (Japan), Asiana (Korea), Sidewalk, Sarasota, Woodstock, Flickers: Rhode Island Film Festivals and much more. For his short films The House at the Edge of the Galaxy and The Quantified Self he received multiple jury awards including best Director at Irvington Film Festival and Best Cinematography at Austin Other Worlds. His films won best sci-fi jury award twice at the Oscar Qualifier Flickers: Rhode Island Film Festival in 2014 and 2016 and were selected to Cannes film festival's Short Film Corner. It also had an Honorable Mention at both Woodstock and Boston Film Festivals. His films were featured on ARTE TV, PBS, SHORTS HD, XFinity, and Fandor in the USA as well as Internationally. In the past, Gleb received MS in Physics from Kharkov State University, Ukraine which he graduated with Cum laude distinction. Gleb is currently an MFA candidate in film Directing/Screenwriting at Columbia University School of the Arts in New York City. Gleb has started his Art Research Thesis project with Bette Gordon who is currently his thesis advisor. Gleb became a writer in 2011 when he decided to change his career and become a filmmaker.
Born and raised in Texas, MEGAN HUGGINS moved to Australia 19 years ago where she obtained a BS (honors) in psychology and a MS in Nursing from the University of Sydney. She is currently based in NYC where she is enrolled in the MFA program in creative producing at Columbia University.
Key cast: Ella Ayberk, J. Dixon Byrne, Alexander Nokin, Aidan Hughes
Looking for: journalists, film festival directors, producers
Facebook: Gleb Osatinski
Hashtags used: #father
Where can I watch it next and in the coming month? We didn't send the film to many festivals and we are just at the beginning of sending it around. It took some time for me to catch a breath and send it. Flickers: Rhode Island Film Festival was one of the first festivals I wanted to send it to, but we are waiting for others. Please follow me on Twitter for updates.