«Jewish Observer»
May 2002
5762 Sivan

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An outskirt of a small town Shchors in the Chernigov region has become a construction site for a ghetto. They shoot here a 12-part film "Heavy sand" after the novel of the same title by Anatoly Rybakov. The Moscow government has allotted money to the Russian company "Risk" to shoot the film. Many TV-companies are said to have expressed their intention to purchase rights to show a serial. Let's hope Ukrainian companies are among competitors, otherwise we will have to "trace" the film on Russian TV-channels. Why has Shchors been chosen? We direct this question to producer Anton Borshchevsky:

- We have decided on novel's scenes. We will shoot film episodes in a pine wood where killings took place. We consider it a historical value, authenticity modern spectators need so much. Anatoly Rybakov's diaries and letters have been used for a script. So, the film is, on the one hand, a history of the novel heroes and, on the other hand, a life story of the writer. It is very important for me to participate in this project. Many years ago Anatoly Naumovich told my father he was much eager to see a film version of the "Heavy sand". In one of his last letters he asked my father to make this film no matter what might happen. The letter is kept in our family. To make the film means to put to life the testament of our family's friends. The novel "Heavy Sand" is dedicated not simply to a Jewish theme - its characters include bad Jews, as well as good Germans. This is a life truth-most important is not your nationality, but your human qualities. Film gives preference not to nationalities but to human characters, human significance.

When we arrived at Shchors, we understood at once we would shoot here.

- Scenery is already constructed, and it is very amazing. An old Snovsk was reconstructed on the area of 5 hectares. This film town has four streets and 20 households. This is the largest in scale scenery of the Russian cinematograph over the last years. An artist - serial producer Kievite Sergey Brzhestovsky tells about the scenery making.

- Practically all objects come from Shchors itself. We used to purchase old houses, pulled them down and then assembled anew. All furniture in the houses is authentic. Many things were merely drawn out of the fire, many were found in sheds. Our restaurateurs worked hard to renew old objects. We erected a town, now actors render it habitable.

Our film-town will survive 30 years within five and a half shooting months. Our task is to show an actual course of time. Trees will grow, houses will get old and landscape will change.

Religious objects, embroidered cloths, family albums, wall pictures, kitchen utensils - everything was either obtained from local inhabitants or presented to us. We practically used no resources of the Dovzhenko Kiev film studio. What we have collected will replenish studio properties.

The difficulty lies in the fact we are shoot a film about the times many remember well. That's why we try to be as far as possible exact in details. Besides, we reached an agreement with hosts of several houses on their leaving homes over a shooting period. We shall work directly in their houses.

We went round the houses to get acquainted with elderly inhabitants. They told us many sad and tragic stories. We learned the history of Shchors, looked through family archives. We discovered much about those times. It would have been impossible to make the film without local population.

Residents of Shchors helped us to construct Snovsk. 75 local carpenters, bricklayers, joiners worked over the scenery. Within several months they learned how to construct it. Many of them continued their work on a film-set in Moscow.

Shootings will end up in 2003. This signifies millions of people will soon see a screen history of Snovsk and a Rybakov family. Many of novel heroes are well remembered in the Chernigov region.

"Tkhiya", Chernigov

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