Q&A with Filmmaker Volha Dashuk of AMATEUR FILMMAKER
Volha Dashuk Graduated from Belarusian Academy of Arts 1994. Completed a post-graduate course in Belarusian Academy of Science (Specialty Film and Television). Dashuk worked as a journalist, lecturer and film critic. Has been working at Belarusfilm studio since 1995 as a director and scriptwriter.
Films: LEANID LEVID. THE WAR AND LOVE, 2006; 11 COINS, 2007; MINUTES OF LIFE, 2008; BELAVEZHA LAND, 2009; THE NIGHT IS SHORT, 2009; 3 KM TO THE SKY, 2010; THE UNPARDONED, 2011; AMATEUR FILMMAKER. AUTUMN DREAM, 2012
What inspired this film? How did you find your subjects?
I read a newspaper article about an old amateur filmmaker. His biggest concern was disappearing villages in Belarus, a process he had been mourning. He was trying to shoot people and places that were dear to him.
What were some of the biggest challenges/surprises?
It was a very unpleasant surprise to find out my main character at first appeared to be reserved, expressionless and hopelessly dull. Then he found himself in situations that were emotionally disturbing because he identified himself with old people he had been filming and, fortunately, he started opening up.
What was your VERY FIRST film?
It was a portrait of a cult Belarusian architect who had been a distinguished figure in Soviet times. He had even received an almost unattainable Lenin’s prize at a very young age. After the Soviet Union collapsed he saw some of his earlier highly praised works demolished but nevertheless he managed to adjust to the new epoch and keep his talent and position in society to an old age.
What is your proudest professional moment?
I think it is still ahead. However, there were some moments when I did my best. For example, when I started shooting my very first film about an architect, him being a recognized authority, highly respected and famous man in Belarus, my main concern was to hide the fact it was my filmmaking debut. And I succeeded! The architect had been filmed a lot but still he did not suspect the truth about my experience until my cameraman betrayed my secret accidentally. Although it did not matter any more, since I had finished the film already and the subject liked it.
What other projects are in the pipeline?
I start a new project with a Belarusian film director Victor Asliuk. The project is about Lee Harvey Oswald who happened to live in Minsk, Belarus for two years just before the murder of John Kennedy.
Why did you become a filmmaker?
It runs in the family. Starting from three-year-old, when asked what I was doing, I responded immediately: ‘Writing a script”. My father is a director and he wanted me to have the same profession.
What are some of your creative influences?
I cannot tell exactly. Everything that impresses me, what I see, hear or read, seems to penetrate into me without clearly traceable tracks.
Did you go to film school?
Yes, it was Belarusian Academy of Arts. A part of our faculty was based on a huge Soviet studio where we could observe the ‘classical’ process of making movies as it had been for decades.
What do you shoot on?
Last documentary on 35 mm I made three years ago. Now it is High Definition p2.
What has been the most unexpected thing to happen since taking the film on the festival circuit?
Nothing unexpected has happened up to now but I hope very much it will…
2012 Marks our tenth edition of the Festival. Why did you want to screen your film at Silverdocs?
It is a prestigious festival.
How old are you in your head?
I guess, very young because I feel myself as an eternal pupil and like to study very much. It seems I will die having the same feeling.