16th ÉCU – The European Independent Film Festival

9th, 10th, 11th April 2021
Tatiana Astapova 
European Comedy Film 
Russian Federation 
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On one hot summer day Nikolay went to a shop to buy a watermelon. Knocking one after another it seemed to him that one had knocked back. He brought it home and waved with a knife when heard the sound again. The watermelon talked to him using Morse code.He introduced himself as 7293 and thus their friendship began.


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


Thank you for your questions. At first, everyone took the epidemic lightly. I have had a mild form of COVID-19, but many of my friends have been severely debilitated by it. This certainly made me shocked. 


Has this time offered you any creative inspiration or opportunities?


I am trying to spend this time usefully: writing scenarios, working. 


Congratulations on having Striped 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?


Thank you very much for your congratulations. It was a huge surprise for me that my film was selected. I have watched the program and I have to say, that it is unimaginable how the jury is going to choose. Not because we are all so awesome, but the movies are extremely different. A great advantage of this festival is that there are a lot of genres, themes and plots. It is amazing.


Can you tell me a little bit about Striped, how did this film come about?


The plot of the film came up instantly. I saw a meme about a watermelon, which knocked back, laughed at it and kept on scrolling. However, at some point my fantasy started to think of a plot for this joke. Firstly, I made a general outline of the plot, then realized that it is a piece of nonsense, but told my friends about it. They said: “Oh cool, let’s shoot!” Then the major development begun. 


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


Honestly, the extremely limited budget was the main difficulty. Short films are not supported in our country. There are some supporting programs, but they are minimal. We were shooting on our own money. Besides, it was hard to calculate the timing of the watermelon’s response in a shot. As the answer in Morse code takes a very long time, we had to shorten the watermelon’s answers during the filming.

"Even if you shoot something unsuccessful, it encourages forcing you to move forward."

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


Yes, I would shoot one more scene, but it will be my secret. 


Where did your passion for filmmaking come from?


I chose my future field of action when I was at school, but firstly I planned to become a stage actress. However, just in case I applied for directing and producing, with no clue about these professions. I was 16 years old and it explains a lot. I went through a huge competition and entered the directing faculty. Became a director. It is exactly what I would like to do my whole life. 


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


I suppose that new trends of film industry are set on such festivals. Reading the synopsis of each film of the program you think: “Wow! How shocking the plots can be”. It is especially up to date because of the stagnation of plots in the big cinema. I am sure, I will not meet something “ordinary” at this festival and it is very pleasing. 


What tips or advice you would offer a fellow filmmaker?


I believe, nowadays we should be bolder in our ideas. Even if you shoot something unsuccessful, it encourages forcing you to move forward. It is literary based on my own experience. Many different Masters have been telling me that my plots are weird, maybe they are right, but it is who I am.  Be more unpredictable and reject the first thoughts that come to your mind. 


Finally, what do you hope people will take away from Striped?


I hope that people who watch my film will think: "Strange, but I like it." This is actually about all of us, especially during the pandemic. The man began to communicate with the watermelon because of loneliness. Hopefully, the film will make you smile and put aside the tension and negativity associated with the pandemic. 

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