In advance of screening her documentary Fine Line in Bhutan as Druk International Film Festival’s pre-selected winner, film director Anna Barsukova gave an interview to local media journalist Loknat Karma. Here’s how Fine Line was being made at the assisted-living facility in Russia’s High North.
Loknat Karma: To me, Fine Line is more a story about loving kindness. The viewers know from the very beginning that these wheelchaired people aren’t left to their fate, they have caregivers who are kind and loving people. What led you to make all the way from South to North to make this film?
Anna Barsukova: A part of the answer lies in your question… It really inspired me how the caregivers treat the nursing home residents. Frosts make life hard in Russia’s High North, and there are heavy snowfalls, the winters are long and summers are short.
But one thing I noticed about climate is that the colder it is, the bigger hearts its residents have. The caregivers at Sinegorye Nursing Home treat their patients as if they were their family. Every loss is grieved and everyone is remembered.
Loknat Karma: The opening music sounds in a way that instantly immerses viewers in the atmosphere of the place. The scene with the abandoned houses and Gyuli Kambarova’s dramatic music as background do evoke strong feelings. Can you tell more about how you made this film?
Anna Barsukova: I find it fascinating how Gyuli Kambarova’s music aptly conveys the mood of the place. I and Gyuli have been cooperating for years, even though we’re based in two different countries.
Loknat Karma: How do you manage to get your projects done then?
Anna Barsukova: I live in Rostov-on-Don, which lies in Southern Russia, and Gyuli currently resides in California, USA. When the time comes to plan a new project and the music for it, we set the time of the day convenient to both of us and start to discuss or exchange messages. I send Gyuli a portion of footage and she sends back her music options. Sometimes we even argue wildly about the best-fit option, each of us standing her point of view, but somehow it all ends up in us coming to a consensus. I am glad to have Gyuli. She’s a truly talented person who entirely gives herself to music and dedicates all her time to it.
Loknat Karma: It’s been a tremendous job making this film, as far as I can understand, but it was definitely worth it! I know Fine Line continues to screen at festivals in different countries. Where has it been shown and what’s the next festival to screen it?
Anna Barsukova: We started submitting the film to festivals as soon as it was completed. It premiered in Russia at the prestigious DOKer IFF in Moscow and internationally at England’s First-Time Filmmaker Sessions and the USA’s Student World Impact Film Festival. Next screening is in Bhutan at GSPARK HALL in the city of Paro.
Loknat Karma: Anna, have you been to these festivals and if so, what are your impressions? What was the feedback from the audience?
I couldn’t be there physically at international festivals, but I very much enjoyed talking to them on ZOOM. The SWIFF Film Festival, for instance, had its award ceremony joined online by more than 1,000 filmmakers in 120 countries. As for the festivals that I did manage to attend, they have been an absolutely unforgettable experience. Watching Fine Line, which is my debut full-length film, on big screen gave an incredible feeling. It landed even two special prizes from Fathers and Children FF and Best Documentary award from the 25th Shukshin Festival IFF. The feedback from the audience has been very positive. The viewers asked me lots of questions, they mostly wanted to know about how the journey went, about the people and life in Sinegorye.
Loknat Karma: Anna, your films touch on socially relevant themes. We are looking forward to see more from you.
Briefly about the film:
Twenty-two years after the collapse of the USSR the residents of the once thriving town of Sinegorye regain hope for better future and revival of the home town.
Oksana leaves big city life for a remote northern place and a job at nursing home. She gets to know the local people and about what happened to the once thriving town of Sinegorye, Magadan Province. Local resident Ruslan takes Oksana to his childhood home and shows her the airport and other derelict buildings as illustrations of the consequences of the events that started 30 years ago. The sight comes as a shock and is enough to cause utter despair, but after a while the life in town begins to change for the better…
THE OFFICIAL TRAILER OF THE FILM: