Mikhail Zheleznikov: "I found this small photo in a German antique shop, paid 50 cents for it (it was all of my investment in the film), and then I got back home and decided to re-create the rather strong affect this photo had on me."

27th L'Alternativa Film Festival
International Short Film Section 3
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Mikhail Zheleznikov
REVISION
17-29 Nov, 2020

A short study of an old photo found in Oberhausen last year.

Hi Mikhail thank you for talking to TNC, how are you held up during these very strange times?

Hi! All this is weird, yes. Something to remember for life and bore one's grandkids with: 'Once there was a time when we didn't have to wear these masks', and so on.

Has this time offered you any new creative inspiration?

No, in fact it has offered much less than normally, yet the desire to produce something is stronger than ever, this is the main conflict, I guess.

You a curator at the experimental short film selection at the Message to Man film festival, when you're selecting a film what makes a film stand out to you?

I've been doing it for 10 years now and my motivation is to try to re-define every year what we can call an 'actual' film today. This year it was particularly challenging and I put together a program in two parts, one part dealing with isolation and staying inside four walls and inside one's head, and another part more or less about returning to 'normality'. Surprisingly, the second part looked even more surrealist than the first. 


A new meaning of a familiar thing makes the work stand out, I guess.

Congratulations on having Revision selected for this year's L'Alternativa Film Festival, what does it mean for you to have your film part of such an amazing line up of short films?

Thank you! I'm very happy about it, I've heard some good things about L'Alternativa and I'd definitely be there right now under a normal run of things. 

Can you tell me a little bit about how Revision, what was the inspiration behind your film?

I found this small photo in a German antique shop, paid 50 cents for it (it was all of my investment in the film), and then I got back home and decided to re-create the rather strong affect this photo had on me. To do so I used a very direct or better say primitive editing technique. And the effect was related to the paradoxical combination of elements in this photo, you know what I'm talking about if you have seen the video. Originally, I was interested in how a symbol (or lack of it) works on an image and then the meaning shifted towards the 'banality of evil' as Hannah Arendt used to call it. I think this video is very actual for Russia at the moment. I don't want to explain precisely what's going on on the screen in a hope that someone might still get a chance to watch it at L'Alternativa or some other festival.

"I got into filmmaking by a chance and now I almost came back to where I started - minimalist short videos."

What were the biggest challenges you faced making Revision?

I wasn't sure it would work for anyone else, but apparently it does. Not for everyone though. 

Looking back, is there anything you would do differently on this film?

I would do fine without the Second World War if it was up to me. And then we would do very fine without this little film, I'm quite sure. 

How did you get into filmmaking and how much has your style and approach to your films changed since your debut?

I got into filmmaking by a chance and now I almost came back to where I started - minimalist short videos. Will see what happens next.

Do you think filmmakers should push the boundaries of the films and stories they want to tell?

If it's artistically necessary yes, but not for the sake of pushing.

Are there any tips or advice you would offer a fellow filmmaker?

It's very important, so I will not try to be original: eat well, live longer, don't do stupid jobs.

And finally, what do you hope people will take away from Revision?

You know, the usual banalities; we are just humans, what we do and say matters, let's not kill each other, we are going to die anyway.

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