Legendary director and award-winning filmmaker Andrei Konchalovsky, whose latest film Dear Comrades screened at the 42nd Cairo International Film Festival (2-10 December), held a masterclass titled Natural Rebel on Monday 7 December as part of the Cairo Industry Days programme.
The masterclass was held through the online platform Zoom.
Konchalovsky began by talking about his childhood in Moscow and his upbringing in an artistic family. He said that at first, his mother wanted him to be a pianist, but he did not like it, preferring to study filmmaking instead and pursing music as a career.
However, there is minimal use of music in his films.
"Music isn’t something cinema can exist without, but a filmmaker should be careful when and how he is going to use it," he commented.
Konchalovsky also spoke about his collaboration with renowned Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky on Ivan’s Childhood and Andrei Rublev. He said that Tarkovsky was more of a director than a writer, while Konchalovsky was the opposite, so they completed each other in a way. Both of them were so young and enthusiastic, and in that sense, making films was much easier because they were not burdened by knowledge.
On his decision to tackle real events in his films, Konchalovsky said that art is not like journalism, which covers contemporary and real-life events.
"Art is more concerned with imagination and fantasy, and that’s why I think that while commercial cinema is entertaining, it isn’t real art, because it lacks that sense of imagination, that there is something beyond the obvious image."
The director was also asked about his experience working in Hollywood on the film Tango and Cash and whether he got into a clash with Silvester Stallone. He replied that "Stallone had nothing to do with what happened, in fact, he was very obedient and professional, but the problem was with the studio which didn’t like his ending, so I decided to fire him when he refused to change it."
"Storytelling is an important component of the film. I am not trying to identify with anyone, or tell something special, or try to analyse or reflect on the nature between an artist and society. I m just telling human stories. And the more human they are, the more universal."
On his opinion on international film festivals gender parity pledges, he said that making films has nothing to do with gender; men can make horrible movies and vice versa, so dictating a certain representation of films made by women in a festival is not rational and has nothing to do with art.
Konchalovsky describes his latest film Dear Comrades as a modern adaptation of Sophocles’s Antigone, where hat his heroine Lyuda, just like Antigone, rebels against the regime in order to expose the shooting of a workers demonstration by order of the Government Commission.
On whether he ever felt frustrated about not winning an Oscar, he said, "It’s always nice to get a present, to have films appreciated by professionals. But I don t like the competitive aspect of the Oscars where there is a number of nominees and only one of them will win the prize."
Konchalovsky concluded with advice for young filmmakers, saying that there is no recipe for making a good film.
"A filmmaker should have a viewpoint on everything in life and should be honest and truthful regarding the representation of that viewpoint in his films."