R. Rubīns: About love of cinema and work with children
A documentary from the competition program “How Are You doing, Rudolf Ming?” was introduced by an unexpected guest of VDFF – the film’s creator, a young Latvian director Roberts Rubīns. The film was very well received both in Latvia and abroad – it was screened in many film festivals from Canada to South Korea, where it opened the EBS TV International Film Festival.
The main character, 13 year-old Rudolf has a hobby – he makes films. Rudolf draws them on long strips of paper and then screens using an old slide projector and making the sounds himself. Horror movies are his absolute favorites. One day Rudolf gets a surprise – a request from a local priest to create a film that could be screened in church during a service. The director answers a few questions about the making of the film.
Is it easy to work with kids? Tell us about the process of making this film.
Roberts: I have worked with kids before – I’ve made TV documentaries, one of them was about deaf kids. When you work with children, you need to treat them as equals and not act like an “old man” or a teacher, otherwise it’s very difficult to get good results. You need to let the kids explain you something, teach you something – in other words, sometimes you need to let them be a little bit wiser than yourself. It’s good to watch them for a while, see how they communicate with each other, what kind of words they use, to learn their slag, and then try to imitate that way to communication. The children need to feel you are a friend.
How long did it take for the main character to get used to being on the other side of the camera? He’s more used to the role of the director, not the actor, isn’t he?
Roberts: We made research for a year before we started filming – we got to know Rudolf, spent time together. We took a photo camera with us a few times and photographed him. When we actually started shooting, the very first day, we didn’t turn the camera on at all – we just let him explain us what he was doing, tell us about his activities. We got lucky, because after two days of filming, he didn’t notice the camera anymore.
How was this film received by Latvian audience?
Roberts: I was very nervous before the premiere, I had no idea how the people will react. But they reacted very well. You know, Rudolf’s speech is very interesting – he speaks in a dialect, and his choice of words is also unusual – Latvians normally don’t use such words in everyday language. This aspect of the film can only be understood by Latvian-speaking audience. I went to the festivals in Canada, South Korea, England, and everywhere the audiences reacted differently. But the most interesting reaction we got when schoolchildren came to see the film in Toronto. They laughed at different places than others, and in the part where Rudolf finishes showing his film in the church, all the kids started to applaud – that’s how much they were into it. As if they’d seen a real movie. I had never seen such reaction before. The kids really understood the main character.
For those who haven’t seen this film yet, could you tell, in short, what it is about?
Roberts: It’s a multi-layered film. But my initial idea was to make a sort of a therapy film for families. There are quite a few kids with unusual hobbies. In Latvia, such kids are often told: “no, you can’t do this, you can’t do that”. Parents do not always understand their children. So I wanted them to see this film and encourage the kids rather than forbid.ų.
Leonard R. Helmrich