Since the show has been airing since 2015, that was my next question. Is it to test the water or is its real political ambition to pursue the success of the show?
I think only four or five people know whether or not this event was designed for a political career.
Selensky is considered a co-director I’m you and she is. The cinematographer of this film, as well as many of his other films, is an American I know little, Bruce Alan Green. Ever had a question about what he was doing to all the Americans around him? I mean, once we get this out, I can easily see the crazy people who say you’re their agents in the CIA.
Honestly, the Russian commentators blamed me for this.
That’s all I can tell you about it. Cultural racism in Russia is much stronger than cultural chauvinism in Ukraine. In Ukraine, all American colleagues were treated like a family, “What are you doing here? Or “Why are you accepting Ukrainian jobs?” “This is an important part of the Ukrainian character. They are in many ways more European than Russia. No one has ever spent time in either country saying no. In Russia, the cameraman and staff were generally very friendly, but you had a clear sense of suspicion.
What language did you use on set? Do you speak Russian or Ukrainian?
No, I do not. I have edited 15 films in Russian and directed three.
You know a good catch. You can see when an actor is emotionally honest in any language. Of course, my wife speaks four languages, including Russian, and she is my screenwriter.
I agree that Ukrainians are more peaceful when dealing with other cultures. At the same time, traditional Russian and Ukrainian humor … how can it be subtly presented? I did not really wake up.
(Laughs) Yes. Humor, especially in sketch comedy, is undeniably what we call the Borscht Belt humor.
Literally, because they invented borsch.
Exactly. That’s something that needs to work. There is a lot of homophobia and racism in both places. But the way Ukraine decided to turn to the West, you can see the obvious progress in culture on some of these issues. Everything is there, no doubt about it. But in Ukraine, they seem to have a long way to go.
Do you think Selensky’s comedy brand is part of a western move?
Right and wrong. Kvartal 95 comedy shows were in that stream of borscht belt, mother-in-law humor. But the movies – whatever you think of as cinematic works – had a more western pattern. Marius, who directed many of them, went to the USC Film School and lived in Los Angeles for 15 years. Tarkovsky’s films were made by his father! He is a cosmopolitan, secular Russian who embraces the West. So the Hollywood romantic comedies he idolized were models of the films he made with Volodymyr.
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