The first time we came across Tim Aminov’s music was when Sonar Kollektiv dropped his Moment EP, sometime back in 2016. The release came with an accompanying video for the song "One Lone Survivor", and it was credited to a Lado Kvataniya. Talk about a haunting piece of cinema! Set somewhere in a post-apocalyptic future, a young kid fights for survival, while going through all the things that a young kid goes through. The choice of landscapes, the styling, the cinematography, the fusion of image and sound, the perfect pacing and the meticulously calibrated dramatic arc – everything was on point! And when the last scene hit, I even caught myself holding my breath.
Tim and Lado are back with another one! The new video is a short movie which is set to two songs: Orpheus and Eurydyce. It says in the press release that they started to work on it right after the release of One Lone Survivor, and that there were over 150 people involved in the production. And the thing is epic! Epic in the way that panels from Frank Miller’s comic books are. There are scenes in this video that can be lifted directly from the clip and turned into stunning posters. You could probably do a whole poster exhibit out of this if you wanted to. My only reservation about the piece is that it is gets so dense with imagery that sometimes it’s hard to follow the story. Which is probably why the authors included a written explanation at the beginning. Either way, this is high-level video art.
Below the video is a short q&a with the talented folks behind this short movie.
You guys met while collaborating on the video for One Lone Survivor, which not only shook the underground, but even got awarded at Cannes – What a crazy beginning for a project…
Тим: The moment I found out that we won, I was in Tbilisi at a Georgian feast. In the morning I actually thought it was a dream.
Ладо: It was nice. But I tend to be very reserved when it comes to awards and festivals. For me, the whole thing is more of an opportunity to show our work to a broader audience. But I’m happy that it was celebrated like that.
So, what about this piece here?
Тим: This is a logical continuation of the previous one. We just thought that it would be cool to have a new project. I sent Lado some of my demos and Lado started thinking about them.
Ладо: I really wanted to aim for a new level of complexity with this one. Now, it seems to me that I overdid it. There were many difficulties along the way, but we finally made it and everything thanks to our common efforts. And when I look at our work now, I actually do not believe that we did it.
How was it different to work on Orpheus? I could imagine that on the one hand you guys had a better flow and also a bigger budget?
Ладо: Each project is unique. New things, new people, different budgets. The most difficult thing in all of this chaos is finding a few very precise solutions that will help to create a stylistically artistic work. The most difficult thing is that we had ideas that we could not realize due to budgetary constraints. But our talented artists, Rita Ablaeva and Anna Domnina, literally created the most powerful scenery out of thin air. It was very important for us to build a plausible world in which these cinematic events could develop. It seems to me that we succeeded.
Sequels tend to come with a lot of pressure, especially when the debut was a hit – was that the case here?
Тим: We tried not to think about it. It's distracting. You just need to do your work as honestly as possible. If you work on your favorite thing with the approach that this is happening for the last time and you will never have such an opportunity in the future, then believe me that it will work out.
And what is the obsession with the idea of the hunt? Both of the films refer to it, right?
Ладо: I have no mania. This is rather a dramatic device to drive the narrative. An opponent / villain is needed, which will threaten the hero or the heroes. In any story there are always polar forces that collide with each other, so our story is no exception.
Orpheus, though clearly based on the myth, is also a commentary on the threat that a totalitarian state poses to culture, right?
Тим: Many modern films are based on myths, because they have a dramatic foundation, which is essential when it comes to telling a story.
Ладо: Every person has a different interpretation of what is happening on the screen depending on their intellectual and spiritual development.
I agree, but there are clear references to a totalitarian state in the piece: the uniforms, the banners, the classic “hearing” scene. And because this is very relevant to what’s going on in the world ATM , I figured that it would be great to get your take on this…
Тим: No. I try not to reflect on politics. It's not interesting. I think that we all need to change something within our selves and our souls and then the world will change for the better.
Western media clearly has an anti-Putin bias, which unfortunately gets conflated with how Russia (at large) is being presented – how does this whole situation look from your end? What is it like to be an artist in modern day Russia?
Ладо: Any artistic expression exists in a context. It is interesting for me to create my own reality, an alternative, artistic one, in order to facilitate a dialogue with the viewer on a different plane of reality. I’m not interested in flirting with the authorities because I always see a vile calculation in this. When a person truly feels that they have a need to create something, then there is nothing in this world that can stop them.
Would you say that the scene is political?
Тим: Very few artists pull it off without coming off vulgar. Usually, it's something that provokes attention, but personally I have no interest in such popularity. I don’t know any Russian painters, for example, who can express their position as beautifully as say Banksy does.
In closing, what’s next for you guys?
Ладо: Conquering the world.
Тим: And we won’t settle for less.