The initiators of the film “The Earthquake” have launched the preliminary screenings of the film not only in Russia but also outside the country. The film has already been presented to the judgement of the representatives from American and Chinese film production. Recently the private screening of the film “The Earthquake” has been held in Yerevan. The large scale film project by Mars Media Company dedicated to the devastating earthquake of 1988 was presented to the Armenian audience by film producer Ruben Dishdishyan and director Sarik Andreasyan. At the end of the year, ahead of the anniversary of the disaster, the film will enter the box office and before that the filmmakers have presented the film to the Organizing Committee of Venice Film Festival and are waiting for their response. During the preliminary screenings the film making crew is trying to assess it based on the first responses. Kinoashkharh has talked to Ruben Dishdishyan about their three-year work, the expectations from the film and its destiny.

“Why have you decided to touch upon this theme almost 30 years after the earthquake?”

“We have been working on this project for 3 years already. Firstly we considered the script then its solutions. The film project was ready 3 year ago but we had thought of it for a long time. Perhaps it is due to circumstances that all the possibilities combined and we managed to implement the project now. But it has always been in my mind as I myself have witnessed that tragic events.”

104_6143.MXF.Still001“In such projects there is always a great risk not to be sufficiently sensitive to the human pain, memories and this theme. Did you have that concerns and responsibility?”

“You are right, it is an extremely sensitive subject as it is based on a great human tragedy and pain. We, of course, were afraid and understood how difficult the theme was and how sensitive and careful we should be towards those people who had experienced that sufferings. We were concerned about making it right not to hurt people’s feelings again and making them accept the film. I think we have managed to do that. But the film will appear on the big screen in December and at that time it will become clear whether we have succeeded or not. Currently we are holding the first international test screenings. The Americans and Chinese warmly accepted the film. In Russia we invited 40 people to the screening: half of them were Armenians living in Moscow and the rest were professionals and representatives of the Russian Ministry of Culture. The latter, by the way, has partially funded our project. Everyone approved the film. Naturally some small remarks were made and now we are trying to take them into account during the final editing. And the time will show what will come next.”

“Now when the nations of the former republics of the Soviet Union are confronted to each other as result of national hatred, diverse political and economic interests, was it important for you to talk about the great solidarity and humanism shown towards devastated Armenia?”

“Yes, there was such a thing. In fact it was the last incident to bring together the nations of the former Soviet Union. All of them took that pain as their own. We somehow managed to shoot it in our film. Maybe we could turn to that theme in detail but, unfortunately, the format of the film didn’t allow it. But that topic has certainly been touched upon.”

“I assume that the response of the Armenian audience is of paramount importance to you.”

“Yes, we have wanted the film to be accepted and perceived firstly by the Armenian audience. In addition we maximally recruited Armenian actors and the film music was composed by Armenian authors. But on the other hand the film has Russian heroes who were living in Gyumri at that time. I believe we have managed to make a film which is first of all very close to the Armenians’ heart, but meanwhile it is equally understandable and acceptable by the Russian audience and by other nations. In fact the film is about human destinies and sufferings that are universal phenomena close to everyone’s heart.”

“And how was the first response of the special audience?”

“You know the film was watched by almost 50 people, namely film critics, representatives of the Ministry of Culture, also ordinary audience. We are naturally interested in their opinion. We received quite positive responses especially from ordinary people, but the opinions of the film professionals varied. They had questions and remarks. These assessments are very important for us and we will take them into consideration as much as possible. We can still make some changes but we cannot conduct new shootings.”

“The film project was quite costly. Have the results lived up to your expectations?”

“The film budget is totalled to 200 million roubles, i.e. almost 4.5 million USD. If you refer to the artistic side of the film I can state that it has succeeded. As for its commercial side the results of the box office will show, I cannot state anything at this moment. By seeing the obvious interest of the American and Chinese distributors towards our film I can state that it will have an interesting life in the box office worldwide. The screenings in Russia show that it will have a commercial success in Russia as well. But I want to mention that the commercial success of this film is in the last place for me. The much more important thing is that the film touch and impress people. Currently this is the most important thing for me.”

The interview by Nune Aleksanyan