Довлатов

Russia, Poland, Serbia 2018

Synopsis

DOVLATOV charts six days in the life of brilliant, ironic writer who saw far beyond the rigid limits of 70s Soviet Russia.

Sergei Dovlatov fought to preserve his own talent and decency with poet and writer Joseph Brodsky while watching his Soviet artist friends getting crushed by the iron-willed state machinery.

Directors Statement

I got to read Dovlatov very late in life – when I was 26 or 27 - but all in one sitting. Back then I already thought that it would be great to make a film about him, but for almost 15 years I could not figure out how. Dovlatov is one of the unconditional symbols of the last quarter of the 20th century. He is a superstar of Russian literature. He was larger than life, yet subtle and incredibly talented; it's a shame that we do not produce such men anymore.

The film shows about an incredibly interesting, lively and rich era in Leningrad, in the early ‘70s. Brodsky has not yet left for America and neither has Dovlatov left for Estonia. There are lingering echoes of freedom from the preceding period called ‘the Thaw’. Our characters are still young, in their ‘30s, full of energy. Even though we first see them exhausted, unshaven, they are still full of hope. It was crucial for us to combine history and private lives; to show talented artists who, because of the political climate, could not do what they wanted, and yet they believed and tried to remain themselves.
 
We did not want to idealize, or to dig up any personal dirt. We were keen on showing Dovlatov as a living person, not as a dummy. Our film is infused with Dovlatov's prose and words. We tried to tell a concise episode in Dovlatov's life story, during which events related to his marriage, family members, his attempts to get published, took place.
 
We met with his daughters Elena and Ekaterina Dovlatov, who came to St.Petersburg on several occasions. From the very beginning, they were aware of our project, as I consider it rude for the filmmakers to invade someone's private life and at the same time not to consult anyone. We talked with some of Dovlatov's friends. All of this helped us recreate the essence of his character, the way that era looked.
 
Nowadays that world has completely changed: colours, light, clothes, asphalt, faces ... Today Rubinstein Street, where he lived in the 23rd house – is packed with bars. There are almost none of these enormous communal flats left in Leningrad, where everyone gathered around a big table and argued until the morning. This era is gone, but we did our best to create a sense of that time. We met actors from all over the country, even abroad. We went through thousands and thousands of faces. During this time, someone discovered previously unknown poems and short stories by Brodsky which had never been published!

For our casting, the biggest challenge was that Dovlatov was as handsome as a movie star, but he was also harboured an incredibly complex inner worl. Our team came to the decision that the physical resemblance should extremely important for our story, as Dovlatov with his Jewish and Armenian roots had a very distinctive appearance. Finding an actor that would meet all of our criteria turned out to be very difficult, and the search was not an easy task, so we were delighted to discover Milan Marić.

Director's Biography

One of the most acclaimed and internationally rewarded Russian directors of young generation.
German Jr. quickly established himself as an outstanding artist. His first film, “Last Train”, won Luigi De Laurentis award at International Film Festival in Venice 2003 and other awards; his second feature, “Garpastum”, was also shown two years later in Main Competition and other awards.
“Paper Soldier” was also a big artistic success of German Jr.; it scored Silver Lion, as well as awards for direction and cinematography at IFF in Venice program in 2008, and other awards. A favorite of many international festivals, it became one of the best and most successful Russian productions of 2008.
In 2015, Alexey German Jr.’s film “Under Electric Clouds” received a Silver Bear of Berlin International Film Festival for Outstanding Artistic Contribution, Asia Pacific Screen Award for Achievement in Directing and other awards.

Filmography:
2018 - DOVLATOV 

2015 - UNDER ELECTRIC CLOUDS 

2011 - FROM TOKYO, short
2009 - SHORT CIRCUIT / NOVELLA “KIM”
2008 - PAPER SOLDIER
2005 - GARPASTUM
2003 - THE LAST TRAIN
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Cast & Crew

Directed by : Alexey German Jr.

Written by : Alexey German Jr., Yulia Tupikina

Produced by : Artem Vasilyev, Andrey Savelyev, Konstantin Ernst, Dariusz Jabłoński, Isabella Wójcik, Violetta Kamińska , Miroslav Mogorovich

Director of Photography : Łukasz Żal

Editor : Sergey Ivanov, Darya Gladysheva

Production Design : Elena Okopnaya

Costume Design : Elena Okopnaya

Hair & Make up Artist : Natalya Ratkevich

Sound Design : Ivan Gusakov

Special Effects Supervisor: Andrey Chechetkin

Main Cast : Milan Maric (Sergei Dovlatov), Danila Kozlovsky (David), Helena Sujecka (Elena Dovlatov)

Nominations and Awards

  • EFA Feature Film Selection 2018