16th ÉCU – The European Independent Film Festival

9th, 10th, 11th April 2021
Sasha Paracels
European Comedy Film 
Russian Federation 
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Chained to a pipe in a dark room, a young woman must fight her way out and discover the dark secret to her imprisonment.

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

Hi, thank you very much for your interest in my project, and in me. You know, the lockdown has taught me a lot. However terrible it might sound, it was during the quarantine that I came up with my new project and had the time to write the script. I also took several online courses, such as visual storytelling from Katya Telegina, and it was the coolest course you could imagine. I want to believe that this nightmare that has taken hold of the planet is clearing away and that all of us will be taking better care of each other and of our planet. 

Has this time offered you any creative inspiration or opportunities?

This period offered me time, which is the most valuable resource. I was able to read and watch a lot, and it's formed a great foundation for my future projects.

Congratulations on having 16/8 selected for the 16th ÉCU Film Festival in Paris, what does it mean to you to be part of such an amazing lineup of short films?

When my festival agent told me the news, I had trouble believing it. It is a great honour for me to be nominated at the festival, and more than that, for it to happen in my beloved France. I used to fly to France very often before the virus stormed into our lives. I adore Amboise because I'm a fan of Leonardo da Vinci, I wouldn't be able to count how many times I've been there. And I love the Palace of Vaux-le-Vicomte, and when I'm visiting your land, I get images in my head and I want to believe that soon I will be able to express those images in the film. That is why I am immensely grateful to you for singling my film out and for this nomination. It is very important for me – I am proud to be a part of the festival in my beloved France. Thank you so much for these emotions!

You have had an amazing festival run with your award-winning short film, has it been a welcome surprise to you to have gotten such a great reception for your film?

I still cannot believe this is really happening to me. I made this short film for admission to the Directing Faculty to study under my master, Nikolay Lebedev. I am incredibly happy that this film was liked by the audience and the jury because it was my dream to make films for the audience, something that would be uniting all of us. I will never stop and never get tired of saying THANK YOU!

Can you tell me a little bit about 16/8, how did this film come about?

For many years I have been following a girl named Nadezhda Obolentseva, and at some point, she lost a lot of weight, which made me admire her even more, and so this film idea shot into space. Sometime later, the wonderful Matthew Gilpin created the script. I am extremely grateful to him for allowing me to make my first film based on his script and for trusting me with his text, because for a screenwriter it is like trusting someone with their child. There would be no film without his script, he made an incredible contribution.

"I am happy that society is changing and that we are going through a transformation where each of us can find ourselves."

What was it about Matthew D. Gilpin screenplay that interested you so much?

The genre mix. Of course, there were some things in the script that I changed. The original was set in an apartment, not a basement, and there was a sister who put her sister on a diet. 

What were the biggest challenges you faced bringing this film to life?

I don't mean to present myself as some super professional by saying there were no challenges but I was truly lucky because I worked with highly professional people and everything went smoothly. The biggest problem was to coordinate the actors because they had conflicting schedules.

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

The principle I live by is "don't look back, value what you have." I want to live in the moment here and now, but I want to learn from my mistakes for my subsequent film projects.

Where did your passion for filmmaking come from?

When I was a little kid, I always wanted to work in filmmaking. I loved the films! I didn't even know what it was that I wanted to do, but I knew since I was a child that I wanted to be part of the FILMMAKING FAMILY.

Is there any advice you have been given that has really helped you?

Preparation is very important. Preparation determines the outcome. It is important to think everything through to the smallest detail because if you miss anything, you risk losing a great frame or a take.

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

Of course! I believe that we live in a great time where we have learned to talk about our problems, our tastes, and our desires. I am happy that society is changing and that we are going through a transformation where each of us can find ourselves. We must talk openly about all problems, and then society will heal from prejudices and stereotypes.

What tips or advice you would offer a fellow filmmaker?

Watch, watch, and watch films. Read, read, and read scripts for the films/TV series that you like. Study drama, of course, and watch films/TV series without sound to understand how they are constructed.

And finally, what do you hope people will take away from 16/8?

I would like people to laugh. And to think about physical and mental freedom being the most important thing, and about the importance of breaking the chains and never losing heart. The light at the end of the "hallway" is always there, the main thing is to keep going, moving towards what your fear, because sometimes there is nothing standing behind that fear. 

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