• Golden Globe Awards

Text (Russia): Interview with Director Klim Shipenko

The Russian film Text is a fast-paced screen adaptation of Dmitry Glukhovsky’s bestselling novel of the same name. The main character, 27-year-old Ilya Goryunov, was falsely imprisoned for seven years based on drug trafficking charges. On his release, he is driven by the desire for taking revenge on the man, Peter, who actually planted the drugs on him. After a face-to-face meeting with him, Ilya commits an impulsive act and takes Peter’s smartphone, giving him access to his accusers’ life.
We spoke to the 37-year-old Russian film director, Klim Shipenko about his work.
What is the theme of Text?
The film is based on a concept that, in my opinion, has not been discussed in any films yet: If one’s phone is an extension of ones’ personality, can the phone replace one master for another? In this sense, the concept is relevant on a universal level. Almost everyone at one time or another has lost their phone. Could this lead to someone easily taking over another person’s life using a phone as a tool? In this sense the topic is universal. Another theme of the film is the war between a small man and a corrupt machine. It hits man like a tank and leaves him with nothing. It seems to me that this topic is universally also relevant. And one would be able to experience it for oneself to some degree.
Please talk about some of your other work.
I started making films in 2008. To date, I have made seven feature films and several short films. I like experimenting with various genres in order to discover who I really am. It pushes my adrenaline to a peak. I try not to repeat myself neither in genres of filmmaking techniques. I always try to look for my own colors from the palette for each story in order to make it unique. I didn’t have instant success. My first film was calmly, rather coldly, received. It was severely criticized, to be precise, so the success that came after with Text and Kholop felt rather deserved. The most difficult film in my career to date is Salyut 7, about Soviet cosmonauts in 1985. This film was very difficult to make. First of all, due to the technical filming of weightlessness. By this time, GravityGravity. The longest shooting period was 84 days. The development itself lasted almost three years. I’ve also directed a romantic comedy Love – Not Love, which I wrote and directed. I love making romantic comedies. I also have a film that I wrote inspired by French detective movies from the 1960s. I directed How to Raise a Million, a coming-of-age story that I love very much. It’s about an adult who makes a Faustian bargain in order to succeed. Kholop, which did very well at the Russian box office was one of the simplest films to make because comedy does not penetrate the nervous system as much as drama. I enjoyed this process.
Your next project – tentatively titled The Challenge – will be filmed at the International Space Station later this year, with a female lead.
The creators of the project we’re planning to test both men and women for the role. Two different screenplays were written for each scenario, but during the selection process, it became clear, that sending a female to space is certainly more challenging and advantageous. The lead and her understudy will be chosen based on the results of an open competition, which will be starting shortly. The winner will need to pass the flight commission and study at the cosmonaut school.
Can you say a few words about the state of the cinema in 2020?
I didn’t see anything interesting that changed my impression of cinema or something that complemented my experience of cinema. It seems to me that this is an incomplete year in this sense.