150 film and TV projects, a major film production company made almost out of nothing and a number of prestigious awards in the Russian cinema sphere are the tangible results of Ruben Dishdishyan’s 20-year activity in the Russian cinema. The producer prefers not to publicise what is hidden behind the registered success. Amid the fierce competition in Russian cinema in 1996 Dishdishyan established the production company “Central Partnership” which implemented 137 prestigious film and TV projects only during 1998-2011. But 2011 turned out to be a difficult year for him. Dishdishyan left the Central Partnership Company created by himself to prove that he was ready to start everything from scratch. In the same year he established Mars Media Partnership Company which, as he puts it, gave a second life to the producer. Among numerous film projects that Dishdishyan implemented in the past five years two major ones are dedicated to the great Armenian tragedies, namely to the Armenian Genocide and Spitak earthquake. The producer talked about the development trends and patterns of the contemporary Russian and Armenian film production and his film career during the interview conducted with him by Kinoashkharh.

“The collapse of the Soviet Union lead to the big crisis in the film production field in the whole post-Soviet area. And each of the national film studios began to fight that crisis in their own way. The Russian model of struggle was among the most successful ones. What was the secret of its success?”

“First of all I want to mention the factor of the box office. What can I say, Russia is a huge country with a total of 140 million population. And when talking about the box office I want to mention the active construction of cinemas as the first important factor. In the last 10 years that process was developing intensively. Naturally the number of the cinema halls also increased which was a very positive fact for cinema. But, on the other hand, a negative attitude towards the Russian cinema has been formed among the target audience of the Russian cinema, i.e. among the young men. They would prefer to watch the American entertainment movies with an enormous budget and special effects. For that reason it is already for 5 years that the film foundation has been established that funds those film that have a commercial potential but at the same time promote national values and ideas by 50-70 percent. I believe that it is a very proper and targeted approach and that Russian model might be acceptable and expedient for the Armenian film production as well.”

“Do you follow the cinema process in Armenia? What issues, gaps and especially what solutions can you point out?”

“I follow it as much as I can. You know I have got an impression that the current situation in Armenia is equal to the one that existed in Russia almost 10 years ago, when stupid and absurd comedies were made in our country which made a big profit as many people would actively go to watch them. Naturally people were eventually done with them and a demand of more quality films was formed. Now comedies do not do well as they did 10 years ago. I think the situation is the following in the country: low-quality comedies with small budges are screened and as there is nothing else in the cinema sphere, people simply have no choice, so they watch that films. But the things will gradually change. When they get bored of that films they will certainly want to watch high-quality and powerful films that have important message addressed to the humanity. I hope it will be so, it just requires a little time.”

“When you left Yerevan to go to Moscow 25 years ago you were a person who had nothing to do with cinema. Was it easy for you to get established and to succeed in the Russian film production sphere where there was not only a fierce competition but also it was in a difficult experimental period?”

“It was very difficult in the beginning. Yes, I had nothing to do with cinema and in fact I recognized no one in that sphere. So I was trying to take small steps day by day. And each new success led to another one. Now I have worked in the cinema sphere for 20 years. I must state that the first 5-7 years were incredibly difficult, but I overcame it all.”

“Five years ago in 2011 you surprised many people by leaving the company that seemed to be your “film offspring.” What was the reason of leaving Central Partnership?”

“It was very hard to take such a decision of letting go the thing you have created from nothing. But it is probably the law of business. At that time a great corporation bought our company becoming the owner of the control packet. And then they managed to pass their decisions through the Board of Directors with a clear majority of votes. This resulted to the thing that we had a serious conflict with each other and parted. But it left a good impact on me. For half a year I was in a complete trance as it was difficult to put up with the fact that your offspring had been taken away from you. But later we established a new company and now I am very glad that everything turned out in that way. In fact it gave me a second life as now I look at life with great optimism.”

“For years there has been constant talks about the development of the Armenian-Russian cooperation in the cinema sphere, contracts have been signed and agreements have been reached upon but there seems to be no tangible result. What is your opinion on this?”

“I cannot say why it is so, but currently I am dealing with two projects which, I hope, will be implemented due to Armenian-Russian co-production. The first projects is dedicated to Aram Khachatryan.Now a very good script is being written for that film. I have already presented that script to the Ministry of Culture and am looking for their response. I offer them to make the film with the equal funding of the Russian and Armenian sides. And the second projects is one of my long-time dreams: to make film about Frunzik Mkrtchyan. It is again a very difficult theme, and the film script is being written by Anush Vardanyan. I hope that it will also turn out to be a very interesting film project only if we find out an artist to be able to play Frunzik.”

 “The greatest and the most important projects that you implemented in the past five years touched upon Armenian themes, moreover they were dedicated to the two national tragedies. How did you decide to finance Fatih Akin’sScar and Sarik Andreasyan’sThe Earthquake?”

“When talking about the Armenian Genocide I have personal motifs. My grandpa was 10 years old when he experienced that entire horror. Till now I remember how he was telling us about it. It can be said that I somehow managed to pay tribute to my grandfather’s memory with that film. As for the earthquake, it also has something personal. During the time of the disaster I was in Yerevan and already on the next day I was in Gyumri. That theme is also close to me, I cannot be indifferent. And in addition, both of those issues have very great social and public importance.”

“One of the hardest and unpleasant issues during film shootings is having disagreements with the director. What type of producer do you consider yourself? Are you a dictator or a democrat?”

“I am probably a democrat, as I try to get along with all the members of the film crew (scriptwriters, directors). I try to love all of them and work with love. But when it is necessary to show persistence I persuade them that I am right. Of course, I also try to listen to the opposing views and reach an agreement upon the issues.”

The Interview by Nune Aleksanyan