INTERVIEW: Natalia Beskhlebnaya
WHEN KATE FEDULOVA WAS Eighteen, my mother put her on the Anna Karenina ferry, which runs between St. Petersburg and the city of Kiel, and sent her to live in Germany - away from the dangerous Russia of the 90s. Seventeen years later, Fedulova filmed a documentary about this, which begins with a story that the reason for the radical step was rape. In broad daylight, right on Nevsky Prospekt, Katya and her friend were pushed into a car and then thrown unconscious there. In the film “Faith. Hope. Love ", presented recently in the competition of the" Artdokfest "festival, director Katya Fedulova returns to Russia to understand what she would be if she stayed, what are modern Russians, what they want and what they are fighting for.
Three heroines are in the spotlight: the Orthodox feminist Natalya, the deputy and anti-corruption fighter Olga and Anastasia, the winner of a beauty contest, who went to fight in the Donbass. Each has its own goals and guidelines in life, each defends its own idea. "Vera. Hope. Love”begins with the story of grandmother Katya Fedulova about the war: when the detachment was surrounded, she, being the commander, gave the command to everyone to keep one cartridge for themselves, because they had to“die, but not surrender”. The correspondence dialogue, which Katya enters into with her late grandmother, permeates the story of the three activists and turns it into a voluminous picture of the life of several generations of women in Russia. We talked to the documentary about her life between the two countries and how she sees her contemporaries from Russia.
Finding heroines for the film
When I started filming, I didn't have a theme of emancipation, I was just going to do three female portraits. But it was important for me to show patriotism, the Orthodox faith and the struggle for democracy, I wanted to see strong women within these movements.
In Russia, the role of women was declared as very significant even under socialism. In words, the emancipated Soviet woman was at the same legal level as the man, but in fact the man came home from work, took the newspaper, turned on the TV, while the woman, coming home, worked further.
On top of that, a woman has never been in big politics. Now the idea has appeared that a woman is capable of changing something for the better, but while I do not see real opportunities for this, there is still a man behind every woman. I have no doubt, of course, that there are independent women, but if we talk about some serious political level, then nothing is possible without an influential rear. I didn’t come across anything like that while looking for my heroines.
After all, I had many other options, all of them were women who spoke on an open political platform. And I really wanted to find someone who was close to me in views, and with great joy I went to Kursk to meet with Olga, whose appeal to Putin impressed me so much. But even here I came across an illustrative example of how everything works in the political space. Everything she does depends on Konstantin, a businessman who finances her, their common newspaper and, accordingly, to one degree or another, he himself takes advantage of Olga's political position.
Natalia urges women to take fate into their own hands, while she herself is supported by her ex-husband
Olga hides the truth, but considers herself a fighter for democracy - and in this I continue to believe her. You see, there are real results of her actions: there are corrupt officials whom she removed from their posts. In addition, the film did not include the important story of the local nuclear power plant, which is still in a terrible state.There is a leak of radioactive substances - she wrote about all this in her newspaper. But how much she is really ready to give up everything to this struggle - material well-being, her safety and the safety of her children - is another question.
Anastasia, a fan of Stalin, provides for herself, but when a woman finds herself in a war in Donbass - yes, in any war - she still falls under the command of the peasants, they make decisions there. Anastasia worked as a war correspondent, while she was told how to shoot, what is possible, what is not. Natalia sees herself as a kind of feminist and encourages women to take fate into their own hands, while she herself is supported by her ex-husband. She resembles a typical careerist politician who, based on some personal experience, perhaps a little embellished, builds an ideological campaign.
On Orthodox feminism and the fight against abortion
As far as abortion is concerned, there is indeed a problem. In the sense that it has gone so badly since the Soviet Union that they did not explain to us what contraception is, and it has become the custom in the Russian provinces that abortion itself is the only means of contraception. And I agree that this must be fought against - many women simply do not know the alternatives, they need to be educated.
But Natalia proposes to prohibit, as she says, “propaganda of contraception,” and to educate girls in chastity. It is pointless, so the problem will only get worse. They are great friends with Milonov, they support each other very much, we also interviewed him, but it was such a formulaic nonsense that we did not use it. Natalia believes that often only those who are improperly dressed, but what is Natalia herself wearing, are often raped? In the same short skirts, tight dresses. Therefore, for me this is a position typical of many politicians: double standards.
About Russia in the 90s and today
I left Russia not because I did not love her, but because I wanted to shape my life and did not see such an opportunity here. The only thing that Yeltsin gave us then was freedom: freedom of speech, freedom to open enterprises, and so on. At the same time it was very scary, you were surrounded by crime everywhere. Apart from the story I told in the film, there were many other cases on a smaller scale. Danger lurked young girls at every step and every day. It made no sense to go to the police, because they worked together with all the bandits and you never knew who could protect you. And in Germany I was able to get an education, I got married, my husband is German, I have been living there for more than twenty years. But I, of course, follow our country with interest, this is my homeland, my identity.
I am very worried about the renaissance of Stalinism. My great-grandfather and great-grandmother were persecuted in my family. I know how scary it all was when people were afraid to say what they think, to talk about what they saw with their own eyes. And now all these ideas are also mixed with desperate religiosity. I am very scared to observe all this.
Germany, of course, influenced, but I was rather shaped by the post-perestroika society: "Kino", "Nautilus Pompilius" - we listened to all this a lot, reflected, I talked in informal companies where it didn't matter how you looked, whether it was beautiful or ugly - it was important what you think and what you say. Therefore, in the film I am different from my heroines, I never dreamed of looking like them. Colleagues from the film crew asked me to dress somehow "decently" in the frame, but I am like that in life, this contrast was not on purpose.
About women's self-sufficiency and equality
It's more interesting to talk about women now than about men. There are also enough problems in Germany, the idea of equality has not yet been implemented. First of all, this concerns the difference in salaries in identical positions.
German society as a whole is still conservative. For example, in my environment: mostly directors are men.It is much easier for them to get funding for a film. It is believed that they can go on a business trip to film and are not required to sit with children. It is believed that they are stronger, more penetrating. In Germany, it is not customary to pronounce it, but it is firmly stuck in the head. Although the ZDF channel, for which I work, is now making such a reform: to give a quota to women, so that half of the projects must be written by women directors. There are festivals that set gender quotas.
On the one hand, I, of course, feel like a strong woman who was able to combine both family and profession. But I have a rather conservative husband who solves many issues on his own. And I love it. We have equality in the fact that I go on my business trips, but when the question concerns some material acquisitions, family problems associated with raising children, it is easier for me to say: come on, decide for both of us.
It's scary to watch the renaissance of Stalinism, the ideas of which are mixed with religiosity
It was the other way around with my parents: my mother decided everything for everyone and my father was always under her supervision. I suffered from this, and, perhaps, because of these childhood experiences, I found myself a man with a stronger character. But this only applies to our personal relationships. And if it comes to my professional development, I can do whatever I want, and if it were not so, I would hardly have tolerated it.
In general, I am thinking about making a documentary about contemporary feminism. Find four heroines who live one in America, the other in Europe - in Germany, as well as in Russia and China. Such strong successful women, feminists, and talk about how they really live, how they feel independent and how much their feeling corresponds to socio-political structures, laws and everyday life in general. And, of course, at what price it is given to them.