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6 July, 2012  ▪  Yaroslav Pidhora-Hviazdovsky

“Brothers” Comes to Life in the Carpathians

The “Brothers” project, which was already presented three years ago at the 1st Kyiv International Film Festival, only began filming in 2011, when producer Ihor Savichenko started work on it. Director Victoria Trofimenko has currently completed spring-summer filming in the Carpathian Mountains.

The Carpathians. Synevir. 22nd day of filming. 12 noon. Victoria looks intently at the figure of a very tall, bearded man who, standing in a boat in the middle of the lake, is rowing towards her, using one oar. The water is extremely cold. On the lakeshore – it is also barely more than 10°, in addition the wind chills to the bone. This figure, Saint Christopher,is a reflection of the film’s heroine – an author, who accidentally found herself in an ancient forest, between two Hutsuls  united by a woman, a child and hatred. He personifies the sense of the notion of “confession”. You would think that it would be impossible to find an actor, who could portray the image of a saint. But Yuriy Denysenkov is suited for the role. Confirming this is seditious and subjective, but the 27-year old man’s face, even without the beard, which he grew over the last four months, is as innocent as that of a child. To add to this, he’s not even an actor, he’s an artist.

“Several years ago, when I was filming a short film,” recalls Victoria, “he accidentally found himself in the frame. I kept him in mind. After a year of searching for someone for the role of St. Christopher, I understood that it had to be Yuriy.” True, rather than acting, mime and words, the director required plasticity from him. Natalka was another perfect choice. Her face and discreet demeanor appear to be copied from Lindgren’s story. It’s interesting that the actress herself never read this work, even when she was approached by Victoria Trofimenko in December 2011, and became acquainted with the screenplay she had been sent, which she really liked. “There is much in the screenplay that is coincides with my experience”, comments the actress. “As soon as I read it, I felt that the heroine was similar to me. But you can’t play yourself. It is only possible to reveal things, that you don’t reveal in everyday life … Then my husband read it, and he said that he couldn’t imagine anyone other than me in the role of the author”.It’sinterestingthatNatalkaPolovynka, evenasanactressoftheLesKurbasTheatreinLviv, is better known as a singer. Theissueisnotevenaboutherwonderfulvoice, butinitsmood, which somehow wonderfully reflects the tone of Lindgren’s story and Trofimenko’s screenplay. So it’s no wonder that the director proposed that she writes the score to “Brothers” …

Overall, “Brothers” is a deep, dramatic and psychological story with a very picturesque background and a screenplay with a complex composition. In addition to this, the language of the film is largely the local Hutsul dialect – writing the literary basis for the film, Victoria Trofimenko moved the scene of events from Sweden, where the story by Torgny Lindgren “Bumble-Bee Honey” unfolds, to the Carpathians. When adapting the story to the Hutsul way of life, Victora was not helped by a linguist or a folklore specialist, but a regular speaker of the living local dialect, Oleh Hnativ, leader of the “Perkalaba” music group from Ivano-Frankivsk.

He was born and bred in Verkhovyna, so Hutsulshchyna (the Hutsul region) is in his blood. In two-three weeks, he adapted Victoria’s text, then recorded his reading of it, so that the actors could learn what for them, were the unusual sounds of the words. But not everyone was able to do so: For example, Viktor Demertash was unable to recreate the authentic local dialect, in spite of his 30 years of experience and more than 60 films. Post-production, is when everything can be fine-tuned – voice-overs, adding sound effects and music, etc., as well as the editing itself. Not for nothing did Stanley Kubrick have great respect for film editing. Being a perfectionist, he recorded a vast number of takes. But he had millions of dollars at his disposal! The budget for “Brothers” was UAH 16 million. And if the takes had been recorded onto film, the project would have closed down because it would have gone bankrupt.

The Carpathians are unbelievably beautiful. As everyone knows, this beauty has a price, and quite a high one, at that. Natural conditions regularly put the brakes on the wheels of “Brothers”, says producer Igor Savichenko. “Roads, rain, electricity – these are the main difficulties of filming,” – he explains. “We built a road to be able to get the equipment to the film set – it was washed away by the rain. We secured it with stones and rocks – the same happened again.”

 The crew promises to complete the film by spring 2013.

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