On Monday, June 22, 2015 from 08:45 p.m. in Světozor Cinema, there will be a screening of an multi-award-winning Russian documentary Blood. This black-and-white film follows the work of the medical team from a mobile blood donation center, which attends small Russian towns as if it was a traveling circus. Its director, Alina Rudnitskaya, managed to point out the dismal state of the country, whose unemployed residents often take blood donation for the main source of income, with a surprising amount of humor through the tragicomic situations. The film has also been selected for KineDok screenings, so it is also possible to see it at non-traditional venues during the whole year within this project organized by Institute of Documentary Film.
Why have you decided to make a documentary about blood donation? Was the main reason the fact that in Russia, blood donation is the main source of income for a lot of people?
I have read an article in the magazine. There was a discussion about whether it was necessary to change the payment for blood donation. (to be correct this is not officially a payment for blood but a compensation for food). Should this payment be cancelled, will people still go and donate blood for free? Is it right to pay for blood? Who are the donors?
Thus, I've found out that there is some payment for blood donation. And this sum varies from region to region. In Leningrad region where the shootings took place, the price is 850 rubles (20€) for 450 ml, and in Moscow and Moscow region you can get the highest price in Russia - 1 600 rubles (40€) for the same amount of blood (450 ml). And everywhere people stand in queues since night to donate blood. The idea of making a film on this theme came to my mind as I knew how people live in a province. Thus the image of a bus with doctors travelling in a province and collecting blood appeared.
Blood is the second film in a planned triptych of “hospital films“. How difficult was it for you to spend such a long time in such “depressive“ environment as the hospital?
It was very emotionally tough to shoot in a hospital. You start to look for all kind of illnesses by yourself. At the beginning I was thinking of a trilogy on a medical topic, but I have realized that I can't come back to the hospital now, decided to postpone the third film for a while and to shoot something positive. For example, a film about relationships between men and women.
On the other hand, in your film there are some humorous scenes with comic aspect based on tragic things. In one interview you have mentioned, that you like the way Miloš Forman worked with tragicomic aspects in his early films. It’s great to hear that you like and understand this kind of humor. Polish people for example, when they find something strange and incomprehensible, say that it is “like a Czech film“. Do you think that Russians will appreciate these tragicomic aspects even if they might make Russia look bad?
I was influenced by Czech cinematography of the 60s and 70s, because I am a fan of black and white movies. I like the ironical films by Miloš Forman as well as the bitter tragicomic films by Jiří Menzel and the paradoxical women's world in the films by Věra Chytilová. Tragicomedy is my favourite genre. Laugh through tears. Life is very paradoxical, not only black or white. Everything has its own contrast: birth - death, love - hate. People are multilayered personalities. I look for the inner collisions and such situations in which people react in various manners. They cooperate and sometimes contradict and get in conflicts with each other. And one more aspect - I live in Russia where the situation often changes 180 degrees: yesterday one kind of values was acclaimed and today the values are quite different. And if you don't have a good sense of humor you can get depressed. We live in spite of it. And I try to catch it in my films.
Your film was and still is very successful at international film festivals. How was it accepted in Russia and how do your protagonists like it?
The audience was divided. Some of them accused me of showing Russia in unpleasant light, the others acclaimed the film for a truthful point of view. I think that this is a goal of the art - to point out the problem.