This week, a tape was released that showed the world an indomitable Ukrainian hero.
“Pamfir” is the feature-length debut of director and screenwriter Dmytro Suholytky-Sobchuk.
The events take place in a small village in Western Ukraine, on the eve of the traditional Malanka carnival. Leonid, nicknamed Pamfir, returns from earnings after a long absence to his family – his wife Elena and son Nazar. Due to the thoughtless act of his son, who set fire to the prayer house, he needs money for repairs. For this, Pamfir is forced to remember his smuggling past, which he renounced forever. But times have changed, and with his actions, Pamfir crosses the path of dangerous people who control this illegal business. The denouement of the picture unfolds against the background of the carnival Malanka, when light and dark forces fight.
The film had its world premiere at the Directors’ Fortnight at the 75th Cannes International Film Festival on May 21, 2022. The tape managed to collect a number of awards both in Ukraine (Kinokol award, Molodist film festival and others) and abroad. It was released in France and sold for rental in Canada, Italy, Poland, Switzerland, Greece, Indonesia, Slovakia and the Baltic countries.
PAMPHIR: FROM IDEA TO IMPLEMENTATION
“When I studied at the film school, our teacher always asked me to take notes and records. In the fourth year, I had a lot of them. And at some point, a surveillance appeared there after traveling and filming the documentary “Red Lightning”. It was still 2012. And in 2015, I formalized it into a structured idea with a description, the first version of the story, – recalls Dmytro Suholytkyi-Sobchuk. — Since that time, the project has gone through a long way of development, finding partners, a team, and implementation. In 2018, they started looking for financing.”
According to him, a visual book and a storyboard were made for the film. And then they were already looking for suitable locations for filming. At that time, there was a lockdown in Ukraine, which slowed down the process.
After all, the picture was shot in the Carpathians and Bukovina from October 2020 to February 2021. Unique locations were found in 16 settlements of Chernivtsi and Ivano-Frankivsk regions.
“There were three versions of the scenario. And the last one happened thanks to the fact that we had actor Oleksandr Yacentyuk, who embodied the main character, – said the director. — Then the script was rewritten for a slightly different type of protagonist. In the first and second version, it was a man who obeys like Job. Under the pressure of fate and the will of the Most High, everything bends. In the third, we had a god fighter, with whom came changes in history itself. Even before shooting, they did a reading with the actors to understand what works and what doesn’t work.”
The tape “Pamfir” was shot in the co-production of six countries – Ukraine, France, Poland, Chile, Germany and Luxembourg. However, 10 countries joined the financing.
“Our experience has shown that we can dream, achieve our goals, and nothing is impossible,” she said the producer of Oleksandr Kostin’s picture. — To begin with, we wanted a French co-production in order to have an international distributor agent. For this, it was necessary to receive funds from CNC. There is a big competition — out of 200 films, four are supported. Everyone told us that it was impossible with a debut project, but we did it. This is a local story that takes place in a village on the border with Romania. However, high-quality cinema captivates viewers and partners from everywhere.”
Currently, the film has been sold for rental in more than 20 countries, was presented at more than 50 festivals on all continents, 4 of them – class A.
HOW THE ACTORS ACCOMPLISHED THEIR ROLE
Even before filming, scrupulous work was carried out. Locations, visual embodiment, colors characteristic of the characters, dialect were thought out in advance. Carnival costumes and masks were made especially for the film, the ceremony itself, which absorbed various traditions.
The actors went on rehearsal expeditions to the mountains and lived according to the traditions of a real Hutsul family. At the same time, none of them knew the entire script. Each of them had to go through their own path of transformation for filming.
“At the tests, I was quite thin, and Dmytro said that I should gain 15-20 kilograms in seven months. He worked hard in the gym, followed a special diet, they shared Oleksandr Yacentyuk, who embodied the main character, Pamfir. — As for character and psychotype, I also had several tasks here. For example, the director said which films should be watched as references, including Nafta.
Then I went to see how Malanka was happening in several locations. Yes, there is a blizzard in Belelui. People from different parts of the village gather at the stadium, and this action takes place. When you watch people rooting for their corner, you feel how much animal energy there is. It was worth seeing and adopting, trying on yourself.
A year and a half passed from the first rehearsals to filming. A lot of things from my personal life were used in the film. I know what it’s like to travel to earn money when a child stays at home. And then to return, hug, say the words that for six months I wanted to say.
This is friendship with my son, I have a very good relationship with my son, we talk about everything, we love each other very much. And this in some sense was transferred to the cinema. I loved Stas as much as my son. During the shooting period, I even at some point limited communication with my own son in order to convey this feeling in the film.”
Lvivianka Solomiya Kirilova works as an actress at the “Slovo i Golos” theater, where she studied Ukrainian spiritual and authentic song, is a student of Natalia Polovynka. The heroine Olena is her opposite.
“When the director and I met for the first time at a live casting in Kyiv, I met Oleksandr, the main character of the film, at the rehearsals, I realized how far I am from this rural, down-to-earth woman,” admits Solomiya Kyrylova. — I grew up in an urban environment, my relatives live in Lviv. She did not have enough rural experience. Then I asked friends who have a village to investigate the nature of those people.
For the second tests, I already came from the village, a little different. I felt the power of the project, that I had to be there. And to work on the image, she went to the mountains, on an expedition. Then the director calls me and says that I have been approved.
Pamfira’s house was rented for us, we lived there together as a family, I cooked food for these two boys. One day we arrived in Krasnoilsk, where I was left to work in a plywood shop. They were introduced to production, from the first line to the last. They left for a week of work shifts, both day and night. This is how I got to know my heroine Olena from her work. I did not have such experience of hard routine monotonous work. With it, the psychology of the character itself has changed. After all, a different feeling of fatigue appears — not creative fatigue, when there is still inspiration, but fatigue from hard work at the factory.”
According to her, such careful and detailed work on the role made it possible not to invent the character, but to live it and live it in the frame.
During filming Stanislav Potyak, who played the son of Leonid and Elena Nazar. was 14 years old. This is the boy’s first acting experience.
“Mom makes bed sheets, moviegoers often come to her. A female producer I know told me that in Bukovina they were looking for guys for the film, and offered to try it, Stanislav said. — For the casting, it was necessary to shoot a video about the saddest and funnest event in life, how a typical day goes. And I was selected.
Before shooting, he was engaged in acting. At the beginning, I was afraid, worried, but in the second part of the filming process, I stopped. Oleksandr Yacentyuk, who played my father, helped me a lot, supported me in every way.
Physically, the most difficult thing in the film was wearing the 20-kilogram costumes, and also dancing in them. And psychologically – the final scene with the father.”
Next week, special screenings will be held in Kyiv, where there will be an opportunity to talk with the director.
March 28 at 7:20 p.m — a special screening with the participation of director Dmytro Sukholitky-Sobchuk at the “Zhovten” cinema (Kostyantynivska St., 26). Moderator: Oleksiy Tarasov, editor-in-chief of Radio NV.
April 1 at 7:30 p.m — a special screening with the participation of director Dmytro Sukholitky-Sobchuk at KINO42 (Kostyantynivska St., 11B).