SPIFF: Konstantin, you are one of the most famous Russian animators. You have worked on commercial hits such as “The Bogatyrs …”, as well as on absolutely original films which get screened at prestigious festivals and won awards but are rarely shown on the big screen. How do you find a balance between these two forms?
KB: Everything is simple. After all, human brain is divided in two hemispheres. I make commercial products with my left brain, and my own films with my right brain.
SPIFF: In one interview you said that at Oscars there exists a certain format of animated films that are more likely to be chosen by the Academy, and that this format is rather “old school”, while your most famous works (a series of animated films about heroes) are loved by many namely for the introduction of a certain «freshness» in well-known stories. How do you feel about the definition of “auteur cinema” (or art house)? What do you consider as such? Is there a chance for art house animation in competition for the viewers with commercial films?
KB: Once again about the series of films about the Bogatyrs — from the entire «series» I took a part in the making of only two films (1st and 9th), the other seven films were made by completely different directors. I just too often come across the fact that people attribute to me the authorship of everything that is produced by the Mill studio! About Oscars, I implied that films not of a marginal, «black» character, but rather with plain and clear stories get often voted. That’s all! But this can be understood by any non-professional, attentive viewer, who knows what films get included in the category of short animation every year. I don’t know anything about a certain “format” suitable for Oscar. And no one knows. The fact that my films are «old-school» (and they are) for me just lowers their chances of winning an Oscar in the 21st century. Art house cinema implies that the idea itself and its implementation were realized by one person — the author. By the way, this concept does not contradict the concept of «commercial», which many viewers often mistakenly think. In this sense, the film «Titanic» by J. Cameron in its purest form is an example of art house cinema. It’s just necessary to remember that the author is a man of American mentality, focused on mass success, on making money, etc. But he himself came up with this film, cheered for it and carried it through. I don’t know anything about auteur animation’s chances at the box office. I don’t think about it at all.
SPIFF: Konstantin, do you remember your first vivid impression of an animated film? Maybe it comes from your childhood, or maybe from a more mature age. What film was it and how did it affect you?
KB: It was the American TV series «Mighty Mouse», which I saw on TV in my childhood. That’s when I got interested in animation.SPIFF: What, in your opinion, are the advantages of animation compared to other types of cinema?KB: I do not see any advantages. Rather, I see the flaws! There is a distinct difference in expressive means. But the difference is not an advantage. Well, it’s like in any kind of art.
SPIFF: At our festival, the program is formed by genres. What is your favorite genre?KB: There is no such. If the movie is cool, I will be glad to any genre.SPIFF: Could you please name any of your colleagues whose work you keep up with?
KB: I always watch new films by Michael Dudok de Vit, Mark Baker, Barry Pervs (these are all English), Cordell Barker (Canada), Misha Aldashin, Sasha Petrova with special interest… There could be more names, but no more than 15.
SPIFF: Please name the 3 main reasons why aspiring filmmakers need to participate in international film festivals.
KB: 1) «Participate» from a position of just going to festivals and watching competitive programs is one and only way to keep up with modern cinema, what moves young (but not only) authors, what are current trends. This is important you wouldn’t reinvent the wheel in the jungle, not to repeat the mistakes of others and to learn from good examples.2) Through the festivals, your cinema begins to live a full-fledged life, since there it meets the audience, and at festivals you can hear different professional opinions of your creation.3) Through festivals there is a chance to declare oneself (for example, to receive a prize), and to be noticed.