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KARLOVY VARY 2019 Documentary Competition

Yuriy Shylov • Director of Projectionist

“I saw the heroes as dinosaurs living in today’s world”


- We caught up with director Yuriy Shylov to get the low-down on his feature debut, Projectionist, which unspooled in the KVIFF’s Documentary Competition

Yuriy Shylov  • Director of Projectionist

Yuriy Shylov graduated from the directing department of the Kiev National Karpenko-Kary University of Theatre, Cinema and Television. His first feature-length movie, Projectionist [+see also:
film review
interview: Yuriy Shylov
film profile
, has just played in the Documentary Competition of the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival. In 2015, he shot the short film Weight, and in 2016, Shylov made the short documentary Panorama. He spoke to Cineuropa about his debut film, which concerns the retirement of Valentine, a projectionist who had worked at one of the most glamorous cinemas in Kiev for 44 years until being forced into retirement.

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Cineuropa: What made you want to make an observational documentary?
Yuriy Shylov: Because I don’t like the talking-heads style – I think that is better suited to television. I also didn’t use music unless it was diegetic, because I feel it is more cinematic. I didn’t want to give any explanations; I wanted the situation to show something that would get us thinking.

Did you ever go to the Panorama cinema when you were growing up?
Yes, I first went there when I was five years old. I was there with my brother, and it might seem odd, but what I recall is that I was sleeping there during two films, waiting for my parents to come back. Then I have another story from after university: I had a girlfriend who was working in the casting agency that was next door to the cinema, and I started to shoot a film about that. Then I met Valentine, the protagonist of Projectionist, and it was a new turning point.

Were you interested in the cinema or the projectionist first?
That’s a complex question. I liked the heroes that I saw in the cinema and the atmosphere, but also the themes that I saw in that environment.

What theme did you home in on in particular? There are many of them in the film.
I don’t exactly like it when directors give a conclusion about what they wanted to say, but I saw the heroes as dinosaurs living in today’s world. I saw that there is dying, there is going away; I saw interesting characters and a universal theme about ageing. Of course, there are a lot of other themes, too.

You’re 28, so what made you want to make a film about retirement?
I have a lot of pensioners among my friends – my parents and their friends, for example – and I see how they are living. I’ve seen the problems that they have in common. I’ve seen that my dad is in a mood more often these days. The first non-fiction film I ever saw was when my father was filming his father before and after he died. And as a child, I was looking for a videocassette with an animated film on it, and instead, I accidentally put on this video with my dying grandfather on it. So I think maybe this movie was a kind of therapy.

The title makes it sound like it will be a film about cinema, but it’s about something completely different.
I didn’t want to make a simple film about a projectionist, where he just shows his love for the profession, like Cinema Paradiso. I think I wanted to show his life, but in another way – the projection of other lives. I wanted to break with the expectation because it’s more interesting to surprise audiences.

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