(A Rough Translation)
Interview with Writer/Director/Producer Svetlana Finelt
Congratulations! Why did you make your film?
Thank you! I made it because I began feeling this nagging, insidious, burgeoning need to save the world... it was probably just my own little inner world, but if it somehow works both ways, no harm, no fowl;) Let's face it, everything is upside down and this film is an expression of that condition.
Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?
It's loaded with nudity, sex and violence and the Ska/Punk music is frankly like audio crack (at least to me). I mean that in a good way and of course metaphorically. As much as I am an American and a New Yorker, I have a deep love of Russian, Ukrainian and Soviet folk music. And Punk, the music scene of my formative years in New York, turns out to pair with it particularly well. You don't have to speak any Russian to get the message because the video is, more or less, the translation of the audio.
But I think the song, itself, is remarkably well made. The verses, which have changed with the times, here reflect the plight of the refugees. But the lyrics are also indicative of a type of maturity or philosophical development on a social level. The early verses of the song were written by homeless children about themselves. It takes decades for such injuries to heal in a human being until, it is possible to write the same song, only about another person's pain. Although Svoboda goes by another name today, I am happy to say it is still alive.
How do personal and universal themes work in your film?
I am an immigrant and my grandmother, who chiefly raised me, was a refugee twice in her life. I am grateful that she's not here to witness what America and the world are coming to. I am horrified by what I see, but try as we might, (for those who think to try), it is nearly impossible to stay out of the fray. Like it or not, down here in this place we call home, life feeds upon life.
Until it doesn't.
How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development?
There was actually no script. This film is entirely organic. I needed to make it and it needed to let me. Once I realized what the song had to be, I searched youtube for the version I needed and what I found was exactly what I had in my head, performed by a Russian Ska/Punk band who called themselves “Freedom,” no less. It was too good to be true, a perfect rendition... the most honest I'd ever heard.
Once I had those tracks laid, I just decided what images and metaphors to use to convey the message. It turns out good chicken stock footage is harder to find than one might think, but I was quite lucky because what I found actually fed the plot and drove the narrative.
What type of feedback have you received so far?
This was my first cinematic submission and it's an honor just to be accepted to my first festival. The only feedback I've received so far is from people I know and has been very congratulatory.
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
Again, I really have no idea what people thought of it or even how many saw it. It would be great to have a forum for such a discussion. I'd be very interested to see how people might have reacted.
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com?
I'm looking to have the film professionally critiqued, or for some kind of a discussion to emerge, ideally. Mostly, I'd like its message to be clearly conveyed, that it's not just chickens running around without their heads in Russia. Because that is the one thing it's not.
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?
Journalists would be very welcome, but I am unsure in what direction to take the film yet.
What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?
I'd like an honest reception, or as honest as possible. For now, I'd like to see how it does in other festivals in order to get a better sense of where people stand on the issues raised, so this is still an experiment in the making. As for the impact, I would ideally like to live to see a world where reactions lead to reflection, not violence, and where creative discussion is the new currency.
What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?
What is the name of the movie that Zeus and Hera saw?
What other projects are the key creatives developing or working on now?
I had been wanting to write non-fiction for a long time and that might be my next project, but it's possible that an investigative documentary beats it to the punch.
Interview: December 2017
We Are Moving Stories embraces new voices in drama, documentary, animation, TV, web series and music video. 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
What's Playing at the Nickelodeon
(A Rough Translation)
Director: Svetlana Finelt
Producer: Svetlana Finelt
Writer: Svetlana Finelt
About the writer, director and producer:
Svetlana Finelt is a Soviet immigrant with a background in theater, human development and depth psychology. She grew up in New York City. This is her first cinematic submission.
Key cast: Zeus, Hera, chickens, refugees
Looking for (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists):
Social media handles:
Where can I watch it next and in the coming month?
I'll be posting any future festival screenings on the film's facebook page.