Animation studio based in Eugene Bugaev 1991


A film director Yuri Norstein about the prospect of the Russian animated films development

In an interview with journalist Alexander Gronsky a film director and an artist-animator Yuri Norstein spoke about the future development of Russian animated films.

Journalist Alexander Gronsky and a film director Yuri Norstein

Journalist Alexander Gronsky and a film director Yuri Norstein

- What do you think about the prospects of the Russian animated films?

- With an rare exception they aren’t very colorful. Basically this movie will be obedient to our authorities. It is indifferent to life and to current events. The purpose of this film is extremely earnings ‘cause today without it doesn’t run any film. The officials have invented a humiliating tender system for the artist, where the main thing is to spend less and to earn more. No one says the word "art" and I'm not just talking about the word "culture". It is completely forgotten.

- Do you think that the consumer attitude of the authorities to the culture destroys Russian animated films?

 - It destroys our society making him cynical. Animated films are just one of factors.  An ordinary cynicism destroys a man’s need to think. It cultivates a very different values. Unfortunately, the notion of empathy in art has disappeared, but without it a human is unable to perceive the art fully. And as a consequence is unable to perceive the whole life.

- How can that be?

- I don’t know… We have to talk to the authorities in a clear text that they are an ignorant people. And the society without education and culture is doomed to become a society of savages.

- Do you have the opportunity to talk about this?

- Yes, I say it often but it does not change anything because the feedback is closed. They are upstairs, they turn off the hearing and did not want to hear. This reflects the cynicism is not only to animation. It does not take up much space in the culture. Even worse when you don’t want to hear about such important things as urban planning, the environment and the public goods. They want to do only that things that make them money right now and separates from the society. In our country not the cultured people manage the authority. I can say this clear. Educated person will not be committed indecent acts, for example destroying the miserable Khimki’s forest. Therefore, they do everything for that fact that nobody of decent people  was able to get into the structure of power. They come up with different tricks on the election for  the possibility as long as they can to sit at a feeding trough.

- At all times the real art wasn’t done because of the goodness of the power, but only against her will to strangle all life. Since the days of the USSR. How this is important today?

- This rule applies not only to our country. So you shouldn’t blame all sins only on the Bolsheviks. The real art was always created "in spite of". There are some matches in which the state of society, its understanding of the historical moment is exactly the same with the understanding of the artist’s situation. Then the masterpieces appear. But this is very rare. Have you wonder why we are so like the songs of wartime? From where do they have a surprisingly soulful harmony of music and lyrics? Probably because the state of society and the state of the creators were inseparable. Therefore there was such an incredible creative explosion and memorable masterpieces were born.

- What are you working on now?

- First of all I work hard to earn some money. I do it in order to finish my film "The Overcoat" ... With no one to interfere... So I closed the door and hung a sign: “Norstein is not here. He went to the front. Fin”.

- Tell me, what is the live of the classic nowadays?

- Who do you have in mind?

- You.

- This is not true to me. God forbid. But in general, it's very difficult for a person who does not want to fit into today's rhyme. On the one hand you have to let a lot of country problems to destroy yourself. But on the other hand I live easy because within myself I feel free.

- Do you have the opportunity to realize your ideas?

- Now as a film director I have the ability to work only because we were able to earn some money on the publication of my book.

- So are you a film director with the world name, who can’t earn money on your movies in our country?

- Yes, because I don’t have any rights to my cinematography. The others earn on it. The state must regulate these issues and protect the interests of intellectual proprietors. On the other way we can’t speak about any further development. Is it so difficult? The part of the money from the rental must belong to the Creator, as it is happening all over the civilized world.

- Real art is always giving a hope. What are you hoping for?

- I hope for the young. For children. I hope that in this distraught world they will be taught in attention to all living things. Children need to be shipped not only in art but also in nature and human psychology. They must understand that they have parents. That their parents are mortal. That they are mortal too. This truly educates the personality. If we were not mortal, we would not be doing art. And for what? We would have no interest. What could problems be and what could conflicts be, if people could live forever? Only art expands the boundaries of human existence and fills it with meaning.

Journalist: Alexander Gronsky

Photos: Catherine Zolina