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Mara Ravins

Does this film question or give answers?

It questions. All my work questions.  I do not have the answers.  Everyone has to seek the answers within themselves. A work is successful when the audience leaves the screening and starts to seek the answers for themselves.

In these unpredictable rapidly changing times it is important to think about these things because back then, nobody ever imagined that such a thing could happen (the Siberian deportations), taking into account that 20 million people perished.

Has the fear that something like this could repeat itself partially motivated you to create this work?

I do not feel fear within myself, though I feel the fear in society.  Perhaps I do not have these feelings of fear because I practice yoga and try to maintain positive energy in my life.  But I do feel uncertainty, instability.  In the spring in Toronto, an area was closed off because they found a dangerous substance in a community centre. Of course no one wanted to talk about this but had the substance not been isolated, there would have been a permanent evacuation for a ten-block radius.  “Friend, sorry, you can’t go home, the area is quarantined.” We are living in very interesting times when anything could happen! This is not science fiction. It is reality.

In these times, when we are living in a world where 1% owns everything but 99% nothing, the systems start to crumble and we are all feeling that something is changing… Subsequently we need to bring into our lives more humanity, kindness and to strengthen our consciousness.  We have to strive for inner stability, because we cannot control the exterior.  I try not to get caught up in fear energy, because that does not give anything.

Who are the heroes in the story and what is their inner world?

The main protagonist of the story is a fourteen year-old girl.  She is artistic and curious about things.  It is difficult to find her negative characteristics. Overall, the hardest task in this work, despite a natural part of the story being dramatic, is to find the negative qualities in the protagonists, those qualities they have to fight within themselves.  The dramatic structure requires character development.  We have to see how each hero overcomes something – not just exterior circumstances, but something within themselves.  That is hard to find in my heroes, especially in a teenage girl who still has that unfathomable boundless youthfulness.  She has to learn to be more patient. She is forced to become independent. I am still working on the inner development of her character.

Is this young woman’s character a part of you?

Each character is a part of myself – with all my neuroses… Those who know me well will understand in a moment.

It is not worth doing anything creative unless you process that through yourself.  Of course, all kinds of wonders break out from the subconscious. Then you have to distance yourself from the material so that you can shape it.

What kind of questions and themes have you touched upon in your previous films?

My last film Solace was created by chance – literally from one witnessed scenario. At the time, I was working on a science fiction series Odyssey and I had to drive around a lot in a cube van on the highway.  One winter evening, when the sun was beginning to set, I saw a woman in a tailored coat, carrying a purse, carefully step over a guard rail and begin to walk diagonally down a snow covered hill glazed with a layer of ice.  Stuck in traffic, this was such a surreal scene and I could only imagine the crunching sound that each of her footsteps made as they broke through the thick ice crust into the deep snow, the effort she took to descend.  Inspired by this event, a whole script flowed from my subconscious in which a woman meets up with a man and immediately feels a strong connection. 

This man is one of those big city boys who lives on the streets, steals. I frequently have seen them in the mornings sleeping on park benches or in the subway.  I have observed that these boys are maybe twenty-five years old and many of them are beautiful, like fallen angels.  There is beauty here, a kind of innocence.

In this film, when the young man sees the woman coming down the hill, he tries to rob her, but is unable to succeed.  In the moment where they are struggling, each recognizes in the other something of themselves… the story is about how two people, in one glance, can recognize what connects them and from that is created an intensive and real contact and they risk spending some time together.

I like that in life, that one small gesture, contact, one glance can change your whole life. All of my work touches on the theme of violence and grace in some form or another. It is important to balance violence with grace, with some kind of humanness.  I really believe that no matter how terrible a circumstance may be, if we allow, grace always enters – something that attests to beauty, love, humanness. One cannot exist without the other, meaning goodness, beauty can’t exist without the darkness.  All of us have dark qualities, even if we do not manifest them.  This interests me and I will continue to explore this and it will always stand out in my work.

Even in the Siberian screenplay it is important to balance the brutal with the humane.  Even in the most horrific moment, when a person is pushed to their limit, they have a choice to open their eyes and see the beauty in a flowering meadow. Such simple beauty has managed to save many from a terrible fate.

When I am writing this work, I try to approach each character as a human being, without judgment.  It is important to find the humanness even in the darkest of characters.

Aside from that, this summer I am hoping to realize the short film Invitation to Red, which I am creating together with a Moscow film company Metafora Films.  This film allows for a completely different creative form of energy and contrasts with the material I am used to working with.  The story explores how the color red seduces a woman who in her surrender to the process slowly starts to blossom in her own essence and sexuality.

I once had this incident, where I saw in a store window a pair of beautiful, large and sculptural boots, which haunted me for a number of days until I bought them.  Truthfully, after I bought them, many things changed. People started to act differently toward me and I started to become different.  I discovered about myself many interesting things.