"Dovlatov" in Main Competition at 68th Berlin IFF

The first titles in the lineup of the Main Competition at the upcoming 68th Berlin International Film Festival were announced on December 18. Among them is the world premiere of Dovlatov, a Russian-Polish-Serbian co-production directed by Alexey German Jr. The film was co-financed by the Polish Film Institute.

Co-Production Supported by the Polish Film Institute

The Polish co-producer of Dovlatov is Message Film (Dariusz Jabłoński, Violetta Kamińska and Izabela Wójcik), and the film was lensed by Polish cinematographer Łukasz Żal, nominated for an Academy Award for his work on Ida.

“Alexey German Jr.’s Dovlatov marks our continued collaboration with one of Russia’s most acclaimed directors,” says producer Dariusz Jabłoński. “In 2015, our film Pod elektrycznymi chmurami (Under Electric Clouds), made in cooperation with TVP and SF Tor, received the Silver Bear Award for Outstanding Artistic Contribution. It also marks continued collaboration with producer Artem Vasiliev and is our third co-production together,” says Dariusz Jabłoński.

“Several days in the life of acclaimed Russian writer Sergey Dovlatov in early November 1971. Dovlatov is a prolific writer but no publisher in the Soviet Union wants publish his works. Dovlatov begins fulfilling a series of increasingly absurd orders from the Writers’ Union; no one will publish his works unless he’s a member. The absurd circle cuts off his creative path. This is the story not only of Dovlatov himself, but also of the people who helped him become a great writer, including his friend Josip Brodsky. It is a story that delves into an unspoken era of Soviet life, the 1970s, and is set in Leningrad, which at the time was the hub for literature and theatre,” state the film’s producers.

Dovlatov is an epic intellectual period film; the story of an acclaimed Russian writer, torn between his spiritual needs and the financial troubles that are typical in his profession. The film stars Milan Maric, Danila Kozlovsky, Helena Sujecka, Artur Beschastny, and Elena Lyadova. Dovlatov was lensed by Polish cinematographer Łukasz Żal, and produced by SAGa film, Metrafilms and Channel 1B (Russia), in co-production with Message Film (Poland), and with support from the Polish Film Institute and Eurimages.

Fostering Partnership Between Producers and Funds

The film was co-financed by the Polish Film Institute within the framework of the new envelope for minority co-productions, created in 2016. “If we want Polish producers to receive funding overseas for films by Polish directors, Polish funding bodies must be smart about co-financing works by foreign directors. Choices must be made not only based on artistic merit, but also on the advantages of the subsidy for Poland: fostering partnerships between producers and funding bodies from other countries that could benefit Polish directors, the prestige that comes with participating in award-winning productions, and involvement of Polish talent in interesting artistic endeavours. This requires experts with extensive international experience, and Andrzej Jakimowski’s commission was just that,” says Dariusz Jabłoński, producer of Alexey German Jr.’s Dovlatov. “The experts’ opinion was professional; in our opinion the commission factored in many aspects of Polish involvement in international co-productions. This proves the validity of the existence of such a specialised commission,” said Jabłoński in an interview focused on international minority co-productions.

Alexey German Jr.

One of the most internationally acclaimed Russian directors of the young generation. Dovlatov is his second film to screen at the Berlin IFF. His previous feature Pod elektrycznymi chmurami (Under Electric Clouds) received the Silver Bear Award for Outstanding Artistic Contribution in 2015.

Alexey German Jr. was born into a family of filmmakers; he is the son f acclaimed film auteur Alexey German and screenwriter Svetlana Karmalita. Alexey German Jr. quickly established himself as an outstanding artist; his first film Last Train screened at the 2003 Venice IFF, winning the award for Best Debut. His second feature Garpastum also screened in Venice. His feature Paper Soldier was an artistic success, winning the Silver Lion and awards for Best Director and Best Cinematography at the Venice IFF and became one of the most successful Russian productions in recent history.

The 68th Berlin International Film Festival runs from February 15 through February 25, 2018.

Further details are available at www.berlinale.de.

Marta Sikorska

Translated by Karolina Kołtun