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Klim Shipenko • Director of Text

“Most often, family is the main reason for all our trauma”


- The Russian filmmaker talks about his psychological and dramatic thriller Text, playing as part of the Russian Film Festival on the platform Filmin

Klim Shipenko  • Director of Text

A film about guilt, ambition and revenge directed by Klim Shipenko (Moscow, 1983), Text [+see also:
interview: Klim Shipenko
film profile
is playing as part of the Russian Film Festival, on the platform Filmin (read the news).

Cineuropa: Was it easy to adapt the original novel into the film? Did anything have to be sacrificed and modified in the process?
Klim Shipenko
: We had the author of the novel himself, Dmitry Glukhovsky, to do the adaptation. And after I got the screenplay from him, we did some minor refining together. So, the overall process didn’t seem complicated to me. The matter is that when someone’s reading a book, they are sort of staging and picturing it in their mind. And while literature normally gives the reader room for imagination, filmmaking is a very precise and specific form of art. So, yes, we had to make choices and sacrifice some things. For example, the novel gives descriptions of the protagonist's dreams… I thought it was not really necessary to put them in the movie. The need for some significant changes popped up during the shooting. So, yes, adapting for the screen is a whole craft of its own.

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Is impersonating someone else easier today than ever before, thanks to technology?
Yes, this is the way it is. Modern technology allows not only for passing for someone else, but also for literally becoming that other person. Social media lets you juggle with your name, pictures, profile, everything… On the internet you can actually have the life of a totally different person, and nobody will ever find out who is behind that digital personality. It’s not good or bad, it’s just how it is. We have to adapt and get used to it. Everyone makes their own choices, whether they want to play this game, or not. And if they do, what kind of person are they going to be? This is the way we’re living now.

The protagonist of your film is under great pressure from his mother. Can the family be a psychological problem for some people?
It surely can. Most often, family is the main reason for all our trauma and issues. Most of our adult-life problems are rooted in our childhood and the relationships we had with our parents. In this particular case, our main character does have a very complicated relationship with his mother. Even after her death, he still follows her guidance. He still does certain things, reminiscing about what she used to tell him, her instructions and opinions.

Does this film have anything in common with your previous work — in particular with Salyut 7, your greatest success?
No, I do not think so. Apart from, maybe, this theme of identity and the fact the characters in both movies are trying to become someone else. The characters of my movies are often trying to change their identity and become a totally different person. I guess this is what can give these two some resemblance. Other than that, I do my best to make my works different from one another. What they may have in common is the overall success or interest of the audience, but I hope this is, on the contrary, the result of my efforts to make my movies absolutely not look alike.

The film contains some very dynamic sequence shots. What do they contribute to the narrative?
In this movie, you can very clearly feel the rhythm. Some parts were meant to make the audience dive deep into the story: so we had these one-shot scenes, long shots, to kind of make people forget they are actually watching a movie, with the director controlling its focus. And then, all of sudden, you can feel the action speeding up, with dynamic editing. This certainly was our conscious concept, the technical choices which allowed me as a director at a certain point to shift the focus on what I felt was important.

What was the most complex scene to film in Text?
When you deal with drama, it is always challenging to do emotional parts, because they are about living the truth and the pain of the moment. You have to be very accurate in portraying the condition the character is in. In Text those scenes were the most complicated as well, when we were picturing the character going through a certain range of emotions and making certain decisions. For example, the murder scene, or when he says good-bye to his mother or talks to the dead body. In terms of process, all these emotionally intense episodes were very complex.

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