«DON’T THINK ABOUT WHITE MONKEYS»«I WISH YOU»
«WINDOW TO PARIS»
«GRIM TALES FROM RUSSIA»
«DON’T THINK ABOUT WHITE MONKEYS»
Still library. Roofs. «Don`t Think about White Monkeys».
«DON’T THINK ABOUT WHITE MONKEYS»
In the leading roles:
Mikhail Tarabukin (as Vova)
Katerina Ksenyeva (as Dasha)
Aleksei Devotchenko (as Gena)
Anvar Libabov (as Khu-Pun')
Victor Smirnov, Oleg Basilashvili, Sergei Yursky, Iveta Rogova, Irina Rakshina, Filip Azarov, Vladimir Leletko, Mikhail Bashakov, Aleksandr Kavalerov
Director: Yuri Mamin
Scriptwriters: Yuri Mamin, Vladimir Vardunas, Vyacheslav Leikin (verse)
Producers: Lyudmila Samokhvalova and Aleksandr Girda
Operator: Aleksandr Gusev
Composers: Yuri Mamin and Roman Zaslavsky
Montage: Yuri Mamin
Premiere: 22 January 2009
The film has a second name: "Chaldean Face", presented in the opening titles. Together with the main title, this name defines the basic questions raised by the film. In contemporary Russian slang, the word "Chaldean" ("khaldey") denotes a greedy lackey.
The form of the film is unusual ― all dialogues are in verse accompanied by a strict musical rhythm. The creators of the film define its genre as a tragic farce.
The film was not shown on Russian television due to its "non-mass market appeal". They say that "this film is too complicated for our audience," refusing to show it. However, the main reason for refusing to show the film is its spirit of social criticism. People who measure everything by money are called "Chaldeans" in the film, while a "successful" Russian businessman is the subject of ridicule due to his ignorance and primitiveness. The satire, which offends, to some degree, even the television investors and advertisers, is not palatable for the masters of show business in our post-Perestroika times.
At the same time, "Don’t Think About White Monkeys" is a film about love, about the search for the meaning of life and the ways of men, about treachery, and about "white monkeys," which symbolize human conscience.
A hero of our time, the young bartender Vova Smorodin, receives the task of opening a small, but prestigious restaurant called "Paradise Corner" from his boss Gavrilych, the father of Vova's fiancée, Larisa. Perceiving this task as the first step in his financial career, Vova Smorodin develops the magic-touch of enterprise. If he needs to drain and repair the selected basement, he may recall an entire fire brigade from a fire emergency, or a company of soldiers from a mission.
After taking over an empty attic for his office, Vova discovers there three Bohemian artists who have escaped from a mental hospital: the suicidal model Dasha, the alcoholic artist Gena and the mute Buddhist known by the nickname Khu-Pun’. This meeting becomes a turning point in Vova's previously confident life. Having realized that the homeless artists could paint appetizing food on the walls of his basement restaurant in exchange for room and board, he allows them to live in his attic. While exploiting their work, Vova does not notice that he begins to fall under the influence of his uninvited guests, discovering for himself a heretofore unknown world of spiritual values.
Gradually, he begins to understand that beauty is not measured by fashion, that love is not limited to sex, that material riches do not replace spiritual enrichment… The artist Gena, who is supposed to draw still lifes, gets caught up in creativity and covers the walls of the basement with frescoes of the Last Judgment - an assembly of hellish monsters and sinners. Vova is shocked! What will his boss Gavrilych and his fellow waiters say?!
However, the increasing flow of curious tourists convinces Vova that the artist was right. As a result, instead of "Paradise Corner", Vova opens the café "Inferno". Gavrilych's reaction comes as no surprise; the boss shows up with a pack of "Chaldeans" and destroys all of the artist's work, tearing down the unique murals from the basement walls. Vova, who tries to prevent the vandalism, is cruelly beaten.
The second half of the film is devoted to Vova’s time in the attic, which he spends with his new friends, who help him to recover and introduce him to a vegetarian diet and to regular meditations on the roof. Vova begins to see strange dreams, where the past and future are intermingled. He begins to understand that his path has been predetermined, and that his future actions, including the betrayal of his friends, have been predicted by someone. And so it happens: unable to withstand the trials of an ascetic lifestyle, Vova ends the relationship with his friends and leaves them defenseless in the face of the cruel Gavrilych.
Vova returns to his usual environment among the "Chaldeans" and continues his successful career in the restaurant business.
However, Vova begins to be pursued more and more often by the image of white monkeys, which reminds him of his unsuccessful attempt to become a person of depth, and of the treason he had committed against his friends.
In short, such are the contents of this new film: the eternal dichotomic struggle between business and spirituality. The main idea is that a person whose life is dedicated only to the material, and not to spiritual enrichment, cannot truly be happy, because his world is narrow and his soul is deprived of beauty.
Who should watch the film: all young people, punks, rockers, non-conformists, Buddhists, students and those who have not lost the ability to think and feel.
Who should not watch: fans of the "official" mass cinema films, of pop culture films, of "fast-food" films; and also the "Chaldeans".
Once, while shooting the film, someone rang the bell at the director’s apartment. Mamin opened the door and found in the hall a large cage with a live monkey inside. There was a sign attached to the cage: "Don’t think about white monkeys, but think about me!"
Not daring to allow the monkey into his apartment, Mamin asked the actor Maxim Britvenkov to take it to his dacha. The monkey lived there for a while, until they made an agreement with a children’s petting zoo that happily took it in.
Mamin still does not know who gave him such an extravagant gift.
Actress Katerina Ksenyeva, who played the leading female role, received a blessing for the film from His Holiness the Dalai Lama in India, along with her friend, Tibetan monk Tenchoy.
Film director Yuri Mamin is a member of the International Tibet Support Network and also received a blessing from envoys of His Holiness in Saint Petersburg, Russia. The Dalai Lama's envoys said that the film is very relevant in our difficult times for the whole world and contains the energy of enlightenment, which affirms the power of kindness and mercy over the desires of the "masters of life" for moneygrubbing and barbarity.
Ray Gillon, the famous English sound producer in London, liked the film so much that he offered to dub it into English. In his words, there have been very few films in recent times that have touched his soul as much as this powerful parable in verse. Because of this, a poetic English translation was made for dubbing the film in London.
There is an episode in the film where a dancing man in glasses and a red scarf - "The Bearer of Good Will" - appears in the halls of the Hermitage. This is director Yuri Mamin's personal parodic "hello" to Mikhail Piotrovsky, the Director of the State Hermitage, who refused him filming access. The Hermitage Halls scenes were filmed instead in the interiors of Baron Stieglitz Saint Petersburg Academy of Art, whose rector, Aleksey Talashuk, assisted Yuri Mamin in making the film.
"Don’t Think About White Monkeys" became Yuri Mamin’s first film after a ten-year break. The film company "Paradise" was responsible for the distribution of the film. Twenty copies of the film were prepared, only twelve of which ended up in theaters. Having been deprived of television publicity, the film was unable to achieve mass success. Only in the Saint Petersburg movie theater "Rodina", which is oriented towards classic films, was the film shown for more than a month, but always to a packed audience. This proved that the film could have been successful on the Russian market if it would have given good publicity. In our times, the success of any event depends on informational support.
The company "Paradise" produced the DVDs of the film, which appeared in commercial centers; pirated copies of the DVDs, which appeared on the market simultaneously with the licensed discs, were so successful in sales that the store chain "Titanic" named the film a "sales hit" in its informational pages for April 2009. All of the director's attempts to defend his copyright and to fight with the pirates were unsuccessful.
Successful premiere showings of the film took place in Russia, England, the USA, Ukraine, Canada, Germany, France, Italy, Portugal and Lithuania at a number of film festivals.
TRIUMPH AT FESTIVAL "DOUBLE 2"
At the end of April, 2011, the directors of the Russian Gazette ("Rossiyskaya Gazeta") - intelligent and, most importantly, caring people - conceived the idea to provide an alternative to the "mush" which is being fed to the public by the producers of Russian films and television.
The Russian Gazette organized the first online film festival "Double 2". During this film festival, eight films were placed on the Internet for viewers' judgment.
The festival was established solely through the efforts of the Russian Gazette and without any advertising help, which is more important today than artistic quality. The final result surpassed even the most optimistic of expectations.
The festival’s films were watched in 56 countries around the world. Naturally, Russia led in the number of viewers, followed by Germany, the USA, Ukraine, Israel, Great Britain, New Zealand, Canada, France, China, and Sweden. Rounding out this list were Brazil, Ecuador, Egypt, Cameroon, Thailand and Mongolia. The internet demonstrated its power: any internet activity takes on a global scale.
Yuri Mamin’s film "Don’t Think About White Monkeys" received the grand prize for viewers’ favorite at Rossiyskaya Gazeta’s film festival, proving that a film for the mind and soul can indeed be victorious.
Viewers expect food for the soul from the cinema, yet such films are called non-commercial or art-house films by the primitive filmmaking businessmen. Thus, all of the most prominent films in the world of cinematography are also non-commercial, including not only the films of Mamin, but also the films of Tarkovsky, Visconti, Michael Cimino, John and Nick Cassavetes, Fellini, Kemeckis, Bergman, and Oliver Stone. Without opposition to this tendency, the dumbing-down of the world culture and the loss of cultural traditions in cinematography, TV and the mass media will bring humanity to complete savagery.
International distribution of the film "Don’t Think About White Monkeys" begins in 2011.
Still library №1. The actors. «Don`t Think about White Monkeys».
Still library №2. The actors. «Don`t Think about White Monkeys».
Still library. Posters for the film «Don`t Think about White Monkeys».
Jury Award for best Russian film by the International Federation of Film Societies at the International Film Festival in Moscow, Russia, 2008
Award for innovation in the genre of comedy at the film festival "Smile, Russia!", 2008
Grand prize for best foreign film and grand prize for best foreign actor at the The End of the Pier International Film Festival, England, 2009
Art prize "Petropol’" for breakthrough contribution in the art of comedy film (Russia, 2009)
Grand prize for best original film at the International Film Festival in Rabat, Morocco, 2009
King Hassan II Special Prize at the International Film Festival in Rabat, Morocco, 2009
Special International Jury Diploma to Katerina Ksenyeva for "brilliant impersonation of the heroine" at the International Film Festival in Rabat, Morocco, 2009
Grand prize at the Russian Gazette's First International Internet Film Festival "Double 2", 2011
Still library. The director. «Don`t Think about White Monkeys».
Still library. The shooting process. «Don`t Think about White Monkeys».
© Katerina Ksenyeva 2011