GIFFONI50PLUS - 21.31 JULY 2021

Films

STOP-ZEMLIA

Category: Edition 2021

The introverted high-school girl Masha sees herself as an outsider unless she hangs around with Yana and Senia who share her non-conformist status. While she is trying to navigate through an intense time of the pre-graduation year, Masha falls in love in a way that forces her out of her comfort zone.

Original Title Stop-zemlia
Category Official Competition
Section Generator +16
Tipology Feature Film
Duration 120'
Production Year 2021
Nationality Ukraine
Directed by Kateryna Gornostai
Screenplay Kateryna Gornostai
Director of photography Oleksandr Roshchyn
Editor Nikon Romanchenko, Kateryna Gornostai
Production Design Maxym Nimenko
Sound Mykhailo Zakutskyi, Oleg Goloveshkin
Music Maryana Klochko
Main cast Masha Chernyh
Senia Steshenko
Yana Bratiychuk
Sasha Hanskyi
Produced by Vitalii Sheremetiev, Viktoriia Khomenko, Natalia Libet, Olga Beskhmelnytsina
Production Esse Production House (Ukraine)

stop zemlia kateryna gornostai oleksandr roshchynKateryna Gornostai

Kateryna Gornostai is a director, writer and film editor. She was born in Lutsk, Ukraine on March 15, 1989, and is now living in Kyiv. She has studied filmmaking at Marina Razbezhkina and Mikhail Ugarov’s School of Documentary Film and Theatre, and started her career as a documentary filmmaker in 2012. Subsequently, she shifted to fiction films and hybrid forms. Currently she also teaches documentary filmmaking at Kyiv-Mohyla Academy’s School of Journalism.

Director’s statement
“The story that occurred to my protagonist Masha has autobiographical roots. She resembles me at the age of 16. Looking back, I realize that the first experience of an innocent slow dance has influenced the formation of my sexuality more profoundly than my first sexual experience itself. This scene resulted in the idea to create a film which tells about the characters’ sensual encounters at the age of the keenest existential experience. I wrote the first draft of the script on the basis of my commonplace personal drama about unrequited teenage love, focusing on the “life-that-never-happens” aspect that interests me the most. To me, it was crucial to fill it with the macro-world of the characters and tactile details of their relationship, along with relationships without relationships and experience of attraction to another person in the motionless situation of his non-desire. I was also interested in the structure of the script that would turn the remote object of passion into a full-fledged person who develops his own universe in a parallel narrative line. The film centers on the points of intersection between two main characters; however, what occurs in the background of their lives is more important, even though not appreciated by them. To prepare for the filming process and finalize the script, we interviewed more than 200 teenagers who helped us fill the story with contemporary school spirit, identify the present starting points of teenagers, and find the “Chosen 25” for the class in our film. At the end of the casting, we were in no hurry to distribute the roles among young actors; besides, there were quite a few characters in the final draft, since the story now included male and female protagonists and supporting roles of their friends. Our primary task was the formation of a cohesive class of 25 people who did not know each other prior to the casting. We have organized a 9-week acting laboratory for them. It was greatly inspired by Marina Razbezhkina and Mikhail Ugarov’s School of Documentary Film and Theatre, where I was honored to study, with the focus shifted from filmmaking to acting.[...] We have finally decided on the roles just before the start of the filming process. On the basis of the laboratory, we’ve created an index describing each classmate, his or her features, background, and the starting point in the film plot. Even though most of these characters could not be included into the body of the film without turning it into a series, it was important for us to reenact everything that happened in the life of this “class” before the film. In the course of film production, we were forming the circumstances for the actors on the script basis, leaving the textual content of the episodes to our characters. Even though the script was originally written with all the dialogues, the actors have never seen “their lines”. For me, it was crucial that they fill their characters with the features of their own speech. Our task on the set was to make our characters’ communication and reactions to a given situation as realistic as possible. That is, we always discussed with them only the plot trajectories and conversation vectors, leaving the content to improvisation. After each take, we worked on fixation of good findings, discarding everything superfluous. Together with cinematographer Oleksandr Roshchyn, we used a similar method in our previous short fiction films LILAC and CROCODILE.”

Production
Esse Production House (Ukraine)
www.essehouse.com

International distribution
festival contact
Pluto Film (Germany)
www.plutofilm.de