(An Ordinary President)
White Russia 1996
Dir: Jurij Chaschtschewatski
54 min., 35mm, Color
Produktion: Pjotr Marzew. Buch: Leonid Mindlin, Pjotr Marzew, Juri Chaschtschewatski. Kamera: Wladimir Andronow, Sergej Wajtriwer, Goran Ruljow. Schnitt: Alexej Struljow. Musik: Bizet, Prokofjeff, Swiridow, Sidelnikow. Ton: Wassili Schitikow. Ausführender Produzent: Olga Nikolajtschik. Produzent: Pjotr Marzew.
Uraufführung: Jan. 1997, Städtischer TV-Sender von Korelitschi.
Weltvertrieb: Interfilm GmbH, Wingertstr. 2, D-65203 Wiesbaden, Tel.: (49-611) 66088, Fax: (49-611) 694484.
Tristar Film- u. TV GmbH, Rothenbaumchaussee 26, D-20148 Hamburg. Tel.: (49-40) 450 1140. Fax: (49-40) 450 11426.
Fri 21.02. 16:00 Arsenal Sat 22.02. 11:00 Delphi Sat 22.02. 16:00 Kino 7 im Zoo Palast Mon 24.02. 13:00 Akademie der Künste Mon 24.02. 19:00 Babylon
This film is a documentary about political life in the republic of White Russia (Belarus) from 1994 till the present.
The film analyzes president Alexander Lukaschenko's rise to power, how he was able to consolidate his position up to the point of creating the basis for a dictatorship. The film is a political pamphlet. It consists of four parts, each reflecting the gradual consolidation of power by a single individual as well as Lukaschenko's change of personality.
The film uses archive footage, i.e. statements by Lukaschenko himself. It also features interviews with Lukaschenko's close friends and political 'battle comrades' who have now moved into the enemy camp. These are: Alexander Feduta, head of public relations in the president's administration in the republic of Belarus from July 1994 to January 1995; Juri Sacharenko, minister of the interior in the republic of Belarus from August 1994 to January 1995; Oleg Ignatenko, head of surveillance from July 1994 to April 1996.
Other interviews feature Stanislav Shishkevitch, chair of the Supreme Soviet of the republic of Belarus from August 1991 to January 1994 and Semjon Scharezki, chair of the Supreme Soviet of the republic of Belarus at the last convention.
Production of the film began in 1995. The project was financially underwritten by producer Pjotr Marzev.
The motivation for making this film was the restriction of civil rights by president Lukaschenko, including the restriction of freedom of speech.
From the beginning the film crew had no access to the archives of white Russian television. There were attempts to make it difficult to gain access to video archive footage in other broadcasting companies. It seemed impossible to get an interview with the film's main protagonist, president Lukaschenko. The crew had to resort to asking Russian colleagues for help. When these colleagues conducted the interview, they included questions by the film crew of AN ORDINARY PRESIDENT.
During the shooting there were repeated attempts to keep tabs on the film crew and, for the purpose of confiscation, efforts to find out where the filmed material was stored. Thus, we were forced to finish the film in the studios of private producers in Moscow.
In the political magazine 'A time with Sergej Dorenko', broadcast by the Russian station ORT, a sequence from AN ORDINARY PRESIDENT was shown in which Alexander Lukaschenko speaks positively about Hitler's role in Germany. Consequently, the president's administration accused the film crew of falsifying the president's voice. Chances are nil that the film will be broadcast on White Russian television. Instead, there is real danger of 'extra-judicial' persecution of those who participated in the production.
Political developments in the country during the referendum and afterwards confirm the filmmakers' evaluations and the judgements of interviewees in the film.
The small district town of Korelitschi (district of Grodnensk) recently caused a sensation with an unusual 'petition for a referendum' against their 'Elected One'. It was in this city that the unsanctioned premiere of the documentary AN ORDINARY PRESIDENT by Juri Chaschtschewatski took place.
According to a press release by the local newspaper 'Svoboda' (Freedom) the film was broadcast on municipal cable television. Potential audience numbers were four thousand people. Local presidential militia and KGB members couldn't intervene in time to intercept the broadcast. When they stormed the studio, the cassette had already been played. This is how it happened: a studio technician, nineteen year old Maxim Swirid, borrowed a friend's cassette assuming that the action film Rambo was on it. He put the cassette into the recorder and left the studio to run an errand. It turned out, however, that, in addition to Rambo, the tape also contained the 'White Russian terminator'.
The White Russian director's film has not yet been shown in Minsk, but people have already heard a lot about it. Only once a sequence of the film was shown in Sergej Dorenko's magazine. May I remind everyone that the initiative of the Russian television journalist was rewarded with a protest letter by the white Russian foreign ministry.
(Juri Leschkewitsch, in: Moskowski Komsommolez, January 29th, 1997)
Juri Chaschtschewatski was born in Odessa in 1947. In 1971 he graduated from the Institute of Technology in Odessa, and in 1981 from the Institute of Theater, Music and Cinematography in St. Petersburg. Since then he has made over twenty feature and documentary films.
1984: Eta tichaja shisn w glubokom (This Quiet Life in Depth). 1986: Sdjes byl Krylow (Krylow Was Here). 1988/89: Wstretschny isk (Counter Suit). 1992: Russkoje stschastje (Russian Luck, Forum 1994). 1993: Wsjo choroscho (Everything Is Good, Forum 1993). 1996: Obyknowennyj President (An Ordinary President).
© 1997 by International Forum of New Cinema. All rights reserved.