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Felix Umarov | The art of directing21.03.2019

On March 22nd, the third season of Papaya Films Original Series will be screened in Warsaw’s Elektronik cinema. The theme of this year's edition is "Lust for Life". As the premiere approaches, we speak to Felix Umarov – a young filmmaker who directed Eden, one of the episodes of this year’s Original Series.

How did Eden come about?

I love to mix old stories with those happening today. It's some kind of a play. You read something interesting in the ancient literature and then you look for the same type of plot in the current times. Having got the topic, I started to juggle with the notions of lust and life. This sent me right to the Old Testament, to the first life, first lust for knowledge. Really, when you see the claim “Lust for Life”, the first thing that pops into your head is Ewan McGregor running on the street in Trainspotting. This led me to the substance abuse theme. I called my friend Andrey Rafikov and asked him: “What if we told the story of Adam and Eve taking place in a club?”. Seconds later I’ve been already writing the first draft in which a boy and a girl find themselves in the night club.

Your previous films, including Eden, seem to be inspired by the 80s and 90s. What do you find most interesting about these periods, especially in the context of filmmaking?

I don't know. I like all sorts of movies. I just find something charming about the movies of the past decades. The light, the film itself, and the outcome image seem to be more aesthetically beautiful. Moreover, each movie had its own character, its own kind of texture. Right now, lots of directors forget that you may not only use colours to shape the perfectly clear image but also noise, filters, low resolution, etc. as tools to speak with the audience.

There is also a lot of music in Eden. Were you involved in composing the soundtrack?

As the entire film takes place in the night club, the music is essential. I have a very good friend who is a composer – Iskander Yerimbetov. He’s extremely talented and senses drama within the story. I’m also lucky that I have some sort of music background, so I was pretty good at explaining what I wanted to achieve. Our work always goes pretty smoothly because we understand each other very well. Basically, we spent a week in his studio composing and recording the soundtrack.

What were the biggest challenges you faced while making this film?

Working on the movie feels like a bipolar disorder. It either goes extremely well, or you feel that everything falls out of your hands. While working on Eden, I was pretty damn sure that the Universe was on my side. Every time something was going rough, I still believed that it would make the movie even better. And it did! The biggest challenge is always to keep faith in everything you do and believe that the greatest result is achievable.

What is your greatest creative dream?

Once I saw the movie The Space Station 3D and wrote a letter to NASA stating that I would love to go to space to film there. But honestly, I have no clue. I have lots of big creative ideas. Anti-utopias, historic movies, sci-fi. I like to play it big, but I end up being a little more realistic. Nevertheless, I am slowly leaning towards more epic stories.

Do you have any movie idols?

Sure. I love Steven Spielberg. I think he’s the quintessence of the cinema d'auteur which is understood by everyone. He chooses the topics that really touch every soul and the viewer captures his ideas perfectly. He controls the audience's emotions. You’re always engaged. Moreover, he isn't afraid to experiment with settings and creates truly amazing worlds. I also love the Pixar studio. I believe that creating a piece interesting for both kids and adults is extremely difficult. Emotional spikes are perfectly placed in their animation movies. They make those unforgettable moments of goosebumps and tears. You look at the eyes of kids and their parents during the movie and understand how strong are their feelings at that moment. This is the true art of directing.

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