It was reported recently that movie director Yaroslav Lodyhin had begun preparations for making the film Voroshylovhrad based on the eponymous novel by Serhii Zhadan. A thorough search is going on for sources of funding in Ukraine and abroad (it will take 500,000 to a million dollars to carry out the project). Concurrently, the writer and the director are working on a documentary based on the adaptation of Voroshylovhrad. One can see the result on YouTube. The Day phoned Serhii ZHADAN to know more about the new plan.
Why did you choose to adapt for film no other book than Voroshylovhrad? What is your ultimate goal?
“It is not I who chose. It is Yaroslav who did so, and I agreed. The final goal? For me, it is to try to adequately show what was written and, for the director, it is perhaps just to make an interesting film.”
Where will the main location of filming be? Will the local residents of Luhansk and Starobilsk be involved? Who will play the main characters Herman Koroliov, Kocha, and the Injured One?
“Frankly speaking, I don’t know. Ask Yaroslav this question. He, the cameraman, and I have followed the hero’s itinerary, seen the locations and even the filling station described in the book. A businessman has bought it out. He lives somewhere in Luhansk, is going to sell the station, and shuns any contacts with us for some reason. There is a night watchwoman who lives there and grows turkeys. In reality, things are much tougher than in the book.”
The novel addresses the problem of a depressive region, migration, and comeback – both physical and moral. What’s your idea of expressing this on screen? Is it possible to make a film like this in the conditions of Ukrainian problem-plagued cinema?
“Well, the project will use no funds from the Ministry of Culture. I think this will automatically solve a number of problems. It seems to me that Ukrainian cinema itself is to blame for most of the problems.”
Is it true that, in your texts, you do not renounce the Soviet past and, instead, use the characters’ thoughts to reconsider it?
“No, I just do not divide the past into Soviet and anti-Soviet. I don’t think the book has any nostalgia for the Soviet past, but I really consider it important to reconsider what makes up the characters’ life experience.”
More often than not, a film version does not convey the complete content of the book, maybe, because the whole point is in the inner monologues. How are you going to express them on screen?
“I don’t know. It is not always advisable to preserve the inner monologues in a film, for it has entirely different creative goals and ways to achieve them. Again, it is a question to Yaroslav because he will rule the roost during the filmmaking.”
It will be recalled that Voroshylovhrad was pronounced BBC 2010 Book of the Year and translated into Russian.