– The most important thing in my work is to be able to find an approach to a person, explain to them why it could be interesting and helpful to watch a film. I work together with Katya Zemlianukhina
and we are, essentially, a link between the film and the audience. We don't make anyone watch anything, we suggest, explain why our films are noteworthy.
When I started working at "Premier", I didn't know how to talk to people. It became a sort of a challenge for me. During my student years, I watch many films, I wanted to discuss my impressions with someone. As I was a terminal introvert, it was incredibly difficult to share my impressions even with friends, start a dialogue, a discussion. It was the job in "Premier", at Flahertiana that helped me learn to find an approach to a person.
It's most pleasant when I receive messages after they've watched the film: "Thank you for suggesting this film. Everyone's really happy, though we even considered whether to go or not". These are the moments when I really enjoy doing my job.
Before the festival, when you just begin to inform the audience about it, you send tons of emails, spend your whole day calling people. It's sort of a grim cocktail: you seem to be promoting art but you do it with the means of cold calls - a way some vegetable slicer would be offered on the phone. Only two or three out of a hundred would respond to the call. You ask yourself while making these calls: "What am I doing this for? No one needs this". This repeats every year. When the festival draws closer, when the active dialogues are held, that's when the drive kicks in!
The most memorable screening happened during my first year – Ballet Boys
and Beltracchi - The Art of Forgery
. Tickets were sold out right when the ticket sales launched, people were prepared to buy tickets resold at a crazy high price, tried to get into the screening room by hook or by crook, tried to bust through volunteers. The festival gives the sense of exclusiveness: you are among very few that will see the film first. I'm extremely happy when I see a full screening room. When the room is half empty, I nag at myself – what have I done wrong?
In a sense, I collect audience's complaints. They are so absurd sometimes that it's impossible to make up. Last year, for example, a woman came to the festival and made a terrible scene right in front of the ticket office. When we tried to figure out what her problem was, how we can help her, she replied: "I will complain to the Ministry of Culture! Why are you so far away from my house?!" I think there could be no better complaint!
There was another story with a criminal undertone as if taken from a Guy Ritchie's book. Just when I started working, I was negotiating with a group who wanted to see Men's choice
. We agreed with a young lady, I made a reservation and reminded her to pick up the tickets when it was time. She texted me: "Didn't Pavel come to you?". It turned out that they all pooled the money and gave it all to their groupmate who was supposed to go to "Premier" and buy out the tickets but who vanished and stopped answering their calls. They couldn't get to the festival, in the end, unfortunately - they fell out and started looking for the missing guy. After five years I'm still intrigued, what happened to Pavel.
I lead a sort of iconic cinema club "Retro" in "Premier". A cliched phrase would describe the audience best - pro-active retirees. These are the people who want to continue to grow even in their respectable age. All the film clubs make a break for the time of the festival but you can always spot representatives of the active "Retro" members, some 25-30 people, on every day of Flahertiana. They rush from the student films competition to a retrospective screening, then to see an international competition film, Russian Flahertiana, to special screenings. I leak them, so to speak, insider information - to which screening they should be buying tickets in advance. In a sense, you could already call them a professional audience.
I studied to be a geologist and ended up surrounded by films almost by chance. When I was a student, I found a part-time job in "Premier"and with time I realized that it's more interesting for me here. My love for "Premier" turned into a steady job. Someone from "Retro" club put it best about the connection between my profession and the path I chose to walk, they said: "Dima, even though you don't work as a geologist, you're still a geologist deep in your heart. You dig up such films for us that we would've never found and watched ourselves!"