In ‘Where Are We Headed?,’ Ruslan Fedotow Depicts Tragicomic Universe of the Moscow Metro

While also depicting protests following the arrest of Alexei Navalny, Fedotow didn’t want to make a political film about the regime, he says.
You feel bad for these people, fooled by the propaganda, but you feel frightened as well. Love lives there, but it’s hard to find it sometimes. Unlike drunk people.” “She would say: ‘It’s a bit dark.’ Now, it’s tragicomic. Maybe that’s how it is in Moscow? I don’t know why. Sometimes, it was hard to find these funny moments, or even love.
Instead, he decided to portray problematic issues with lightness, fishing for hope wherever he could find it.
He did try to reach out to some of his protagonists, however, not that they appreciated the intrusion.
For myself, not for the film. She just wouldn’t leave; she kept looking at it. But she was surprised to see me, didn’t tell me anything and just left. I decided to ask her about it. “In the film, I show this one woman, standing next to the statue. This way, we can just keep on wondering.”” /> Maybe it’s better not to know.
World premiering at IDFA, where it also got the support of the Bertha Fund, it played in EnergaCamerimage Film Festival’s Documentary Features Competition. Filmed over the course of one year, “Where Are We Headed?” – recently picked up by Taskovski Films – took director-cinematographer Ruslan Fedotow down into the Moscow Metro, where he found joy and sorrow commuting alongside each other every day.
“I was thinking about this idea for a long time,” Fedotow tells Variety. I liked to observe people there. It’s a public space, like a library, a whole different life happening underground.” “When I used to live in Belarus, taking the metro wasn’t just about getting from one point to another.
Admitting that the pandemic has influenced his plans, he still spent two and a half years developing the film. Showing the metro as a place where people escape the cold, read, meet up and celebrate.
“It couldn’t be just about pain and sadness,” he says, crediting Korkia with the film’s absurd humor.
Fedotow wanted to focus on brief encounters in the film, capture small details, things that happen suddenly and unexpectedly.
That’s our life. These protests? We both have to deal with police government, we face a lot of similar problems – also when it comes to our personal freedom. “People ask me sometimes: ‘Hey man, you are from Belarus, so how come you are showing Russia?’ For me, there is still this connection between our countries. It just happens.”
On New Year’s Eve – can you imagine? But I didn’t even speak to them! They didn’t even ask what I was doing, they didn’t care. “So many people think I made these conversations up. Down there, people move in some kind of trance. I could be right in front of them and they wouldn’t see me.” They were sitting there, eating clementines, talking about everything: Hitler, history, war, space, religion.
It’s hopeful for me.” Let’s take this guy, walking around with a chandelier. “Nastia would ask why I am not following these people until the end. For me, he is looking for light, or maybe he can finally bring it to someone else. I just wanted to enjoy the moment, that’s it; be this invisible cinematographer dressed in black, doing everything on his own.
Sometimes, weeks went by without capturing a single moment. “I should probably keep on shooting, but in Russia, many people don’t wear masks. They thought I was some inspector, trying to expose them,” he says.
I thought about giving up, but then I would run into someone special again.” Including a Santa Claus and a girl discussing the “vastness” of the Russian soul. “Nastia Korkia, who is my co-producer, but also my partner, would ask: ‘Did you ‘catch’ anything today?’ I felt like a fisherman, coming home empty-handed.

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