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SARAJEVO 2022 Competición Documentales

Marta Smerechynska • Directora de Diary of a Bride of Christ

"Cuando estás tan acostumbrado a algo, de alguna manera ni siquiera piensas en eso ni lo comentas en profundidad"


- La directora ucraniana nos habla sobre la historia de su familia, y en especial la de su hermana pequeña, que se hizo monja

Marta Smerechynska • Directora de Diary of a Bride of Christ

Este artículo está disponible en inglés.

Marta Smerechynska's Sarajevo-screened film Diary of a Bride of Christ [+lee también:
entrevista: Marta Smerechynska
ficha de la película
is dedicated to the difficult choice made by a young girl, her own sister, who decided to become a nun. We found out more about the background behind this very personal story.

Cineuropa: The idea of this film is deeply private, isn't it?
Marta Smerechynska:
I knew the monastery and the sisters in my childhood; I always used to watch them, and somehow it interested me. I had a lot of questions about it. But back then, as a child, I didn't really understand what documentary cinema was, but I wrote things down, like some of my observations. And while I was still studying at university, the desire to try to make a documentary film and the urge to explore this world arose at the same time. I like documentaries because somehow, everything is happening "already", and therefore it’s vital to start shooting "already" because otherwise you’re wasting time. I imagined that I would shoot in about ten years’ time, once I was already an experienced director and once I knew exactly how it works, because I wanted to do it well. Nevertheless, I decided to start right then.

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At what age did your sister Nastya go to the monastery?
She left at 15, but her desire arose at the age of 13. It was at 13 that she came to us and said that she had just returned from the camps with the nuns, and two years later, she left. At first, I was dead against it, as she was at a fairly young age, despite the fact that the vast majority of sisters in this monastery have this urge very young. That’s because many of them end up in these camps and communicate with the sisters. But not all monasteries have such interaction or communication with teenagers and young people.

In the final part of the film, you seem to say that you didn't talk much about God in your childhood but that He was present somehow in your life… Can you comment on this?
When it is such a daily component of your life, it’s automatically perceived as something familiar.

Is it because your dad was a priest?
Yes. We went to church every Sunday, we said prayers at home or we heard all about God at home. And when something is so familiar to you, somehow you don't even think about it or discuss it very deeply. Plus, we were children, and at that age, you generally perceive everything as the norm. That is just how the world works.

When I left home and went to university, I had just turned 17, and then I was able to look at it all from a different angle. I was able to look at how the world works, what is happening in the world in general and what other pathways exist. I was also able to look at her path in a different light.

What was it exactly that attracted you to the life of the nuns?
I was interested in, and surprised by, this decision to choose what is, at first glance, a seemingly restricted life, where you give up your free will and place the responsibility for your choices in the hands of someone else. You are ready to serve all your life, and you are in a position of subordination. I constantly tried to understand it, but I couldn't come to terms with it. That's why I like the format of filming, where you take a closer look and talk to these people in depth. You are next to them, and you can hear how each of them had a life story that led to this.

Were there any conversations with Nastya before or during filming that were not included in the movie, about her attitude to God?
In fact, we had a lot of conversations. Starting from the moment when I was studying in Kyiv and she was at university in Ivano-Frankivsk, she always came along completely sure of where she was and what she was involved in. And I came along with some of my doubts and questions. I tried to glimpse these doubts in her, so I asked her a lot of questions, but she always stood her ground very convincingly and confidently. The conversations tended to veer off in different directions.

Are the VHS tapes from the beginning of the film your own family archives?
Yes, I found them. I knew there had always been some cassettes at home, and during the editing, I had a sneaking suspicion that there might be something useful there... The editing process itself is such that you are still diving deep into this whole topic of family, into the material and into the monastery, and you are conducting this constant inner search. And it’s the same with photographs – I came and took all the photo albums, and then chose from among them and also found these cassettes.

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