As part of the BEAST 2017 retrospective, we decided to interview the winning film directors from the previous edition of the festival. Anton Yaremchuk, the director of BEAST’s best documentary film “The Pit” agreed to answer some of our questions. Here they are:
“The Pit” brought you the Best Documentary Award in BEAST IFF 2017 competition. How did the idea or the project arise?
At the end of the third year of my studies at the film university, I was looking for a suitable subject for a semester film I was supposed to present at the end of the year. I already documented the creative process of musical environment in earlier exercises and my Tutor encouraged my fascination. Just as I was searching for a visually interesting theme, my friend and collaborator, the sound director Danyla Okulov, was looking for opportunities to work with a more complex soundtrack that would go beyond the typical student production, which mostly consists of dialogue recording and standard mixing. While shooting, we realized we were witnessing an interesting story, which went beyond a formal exploration we were planning to do. We decided to continue working on the film and pursue a form of a short narrative film, rather than an etude. After one and a half years in the making, we presented “The Pit” as our diploma project during our Bachelor graduation.
Is classical music one of your interests? What mostly attracts you to it?
Yes! Very much so. I regret immensely not being a musician myself; I do not even play the guitar. I try therefore to be around musicians as much as possible. Music is the ultimate art form; it evokes the strongest emotions in the audience. Analogous to the images it communicates through form rather than words. The harmony of shape and design of the instruments, the complexity and vividness of the creative process bring to the world of music its cinematic qualities. It is always exciting to explore this theme: it seems to never be boring.
Are you satisfied with “The Pit”’s presence/ performance at festivals?
We were extremely surprised to be included in the official program of IDFA. After that, everything else came as a bonus. We had a great opportunity to present our film on several stages in different countries and winning the award at the BEAST film festival was the cherry on the cake. I have to say I was surprised that we did not make it in quite many other festivals to which we submitted the film, but overall we were very happy with how things turned out.
Do you feel your work is deeply influenced by the East European cinema, or that you belong to the East European cinema community?
Absolutely. Our program at the film university is part of a long tradition of the Soviet and Ukrainian cinematography school. I went through a very academic and classical formation process, which is rooted in the Soviet approach to the cinematic language. I collaborate with a small group of people and because of our shared background, we understand each other very well. We are always trying to escape the naturalism and the spoken word and render the content in a purely cinematic audiovisual language. I would argue it is an eastern European approach.
What are you working on at the moment?
I am currently working on two feature-length projects, in both cases as the director of photography. The first is a documentary film about the progressive Ukrainian politicians that came to the parliament after the Revolution of Dignity. The second is a docufiction picture, which explores the different social and political backgrounds of the fragmented Ukrainian society of today.
Watch The Pit’s trailer here.