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"Dau" - The Most Outlandish Film Project Ever?

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monty
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"Dau" - The Most Outlandish Film Project Ever?

#1

Post by monty » February 17th, 2017, 10:24 pm

Ever since 2006, novice film director Ilya Khrzhanovsky has been working on a project about the Nobel Prize winning Soviet scientist Lev Landau. . Actual shooting started in 2008 and went on for three years. When the film will be finished is anybody's guess; currently, it's languishing in post-production. So what makes this film project so special? Well, how about this for starters:
Armed with total creative control, [Khrzhanovsky] invaded a Ukrainian city, marshaled a cast of thousands and thousands, and constructed a totalitarian society in which the cameras are always rolling and the actors never go home
Then there's this:
Khrzhanovsky asked the actors to live on set for greater realism ...The project became an experiment in recreating the Soviet Union. You were only admitted on the set if you were dressed in Soviet era clothes. At the entrance, extras dressed as KGB guards took away your money and mobile phone. Loudspeakers blasted Soviet era propaganda. A newspaper produced Soviet news. There was a Soviet hairdresser and a Soviet cafeteria. Real scientists performed real experiments on real animals. When Khrzhanovsky wanted to cause some trouble, he would have one actor report on another to the re-created secret services. The KGB would make arrests...Those who took part in the project [said] it immersed them in an odd state where you couldn’t tell the difference between the present, your day dreams and the past.
Unbelievable are the lengths that the production has gone to create a believable set for Dau, with insane obsession over details like the pipe-width of the toilets, expiration dates on food wrappers, paperwork required to get on and off set, and more. Of course, don’t actually call it a set! The intrigue doesn’t end there, as Khrzhanovsky is also probably fucking a lot of his cast members, and there’s a bizarre cult factor to the whole endeavor, with people moving themselves and their families to the city that houses the set, and abandoning other careers and pursuits to join on.
...For a scene set at the airport, which involved a giant fake plane and required covering the tarmac with 800 tons of mud, he got the airport closed outright: the city of 1,400,000 didn’t accept inbound flights for a full day. Kharkov also allowed Khrzhanovsky to empty out and redecorate two miles of its main drag, to build a large street set on rooftops (in order to achieve a clearer horizon line – remember, no CGI) and to sheath its radio tower in a 70-foot plywood sword.

The only acting professional in the cast was Radmila Schogoleva, who would play Dau’s wife Nora; before the shooting began, she spent a full year working at a chocolate factory and a hospital, a regimen devised by Khrzhanovsky to beat the actress out of her.
For the title role, Khrzhanovsky had one stipulation: it had to be played by an actual genius, regardless of the discipline... He ended up casting Teodor Currentzis, a lushly maned, 38-year-old pinup of a classical conductor.
Professional extras didn’t suit him; instead, a team 25 photographers roamed the streets of three cities looking for good faces. Their efforts resulted in a database of 210,000 candidates. In Kharkov alone, they photographed 160,000 people, every ninth resident of the city. The best of those were then processed through wardrobe and makeup, assigned a costume, and represented by six-inch photo cutouts. Thus, in assembling crowd scenes, Khrzhanovsky could literally play with hundreds of dress-up dolls, arranging them in deliberate color patterns (blue coats to violet to red, that sort of thing). Then his assistants would call up the living version of each doll and arrange them the same way in the shot.

Here's what a journalist visiting "the film set" had to report:
According to a glossary of forbidden terms posted right in front of me on the wall, the set is to be referred to as the Institute. Likewise, inside the Institute, there are no scenes, just experiments. No shooting, only documentation. And there is certainly no director. Instead, Ilya Khrzhanovsky, the man responsible for this madness, is to be referred to as the Head of the Institute or simply the Boss...Khrzhanovsky came up with the idea of the Institute not long after preproduction on Dau began. He wanted a space where he could elicit the needed emotions from his cast in controlled conditions, twenty-four hours a day. The set would be a panopticon. Microphones would hide in lighting fixtures (as they would in many a lamp in Stalin's USSR), allowing Khrzhanovsky to shoot with multiple film cameras from practically anywhere—through windows, skylights, and two-way mirrors.
The set is roughly the size of two football fields, surrounded by a five-story fantasia of oppressive architecture. One edifice, a woozy take on Lenin's tomb, has an irregular ziggurat leading up to it. A coliseum-like stadium looms over two drab residential buildings. Atonal cello music squalls across the city, issuing from pole-mounted loudspeakers. The sole purpose of it seems to be to make one tense, uncomfortable, on edge...Within the walls of the set, for the 300 people working on the project—including the fifty or so who live in costume, in character—there is no difference between "on" and "off."

...Because you were not supposed to admit that the film shoot was in fact a film shoot. Instead, everyone was operating under the notion that it's the '50s. That day it was 1952. So I needed to be made into a 1952 version of myself. They took away my clothes. They gave me a new haircut with, like, temples shaved off and gave me an incredibly itchy period suit - including the underwear.The one thing I was allowed to keep was my watch. I had a vintage watch from 1959 and after a pretty intense discussion they decided it was OK to let me keep this watch from the future...A few moments later we reach a passageway between worlds: the door connecting the film's modern production offices, where people are free to eat junk food and peck at laptops, with the time warp of the Institute. A silent guard observes my typewritten pass bearing the Soviet hammer and sickle and date-stamped April 28, 1952. Another frisks Khrzhanovsky, without betraying any deference or even recognition. After a security wand roughly passes over my back—a cell phone; sorry, can't have that inside—I finally step through the door and onto the set. I've heard the tales and seen some pictures. I still gasp.Before me is an entire city, built to scale, open to the elements, and—at 1 a.m. and with no camera in sight—fully populated...Atonal cello music squalls across the city, issuing from pole-mounted loudspeakers. The sole purpose of it seems to be to make one tense, uncomfortable, on edge.

"Are you going to augment the city with CGI later?" I ask, just to ask something.

Khrzhanovsky jumps in place and winces. "See, if one of the guards heard you, he would fine me a thousand hryvnias [about $125]," he says. "Because you're my guest. It doesn't matter that I am the boss. I get frisked like everyone else. You can't use words that have no meaning in this world."

The fine system is the Institute's latest innovation. Khrzhanovsky decreed it a few months ago, fed up with staffers smuggling cell phones and talking about Facebook. Other finable offenses include tardiness, which costs a whole day's pay, and failure to renew the fake Institute pass. The program has been a hit. Not only has morale improved, a whole new euphemistic vocabulary has sprouted up. ("Google" is now "Pravda," as in "Pravda it.") The fine system has also fostered a robust culture of snitching. "In a totalitarian regime, mechanisms of suppression trigger mechanisms of betrayal," the director explains. "I am very interested in that."


Read more about the madness here:
http://www.gq.com/story/movie-set-that- ... table=true
http://michaelidov.tumblr.com/post/1216 ... u-outtakes
http://www.npr.org/2014/12/12/370331816 ... nding-film




So, what do you guys think? Will it be the masterpiece to top all else?
Last edited by monty on February 17th, 2017, 11:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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#2

Post by weirdboy » February 17th, 2017, 10:30 pm

It's like a real-life version of Synecdoche, New York

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#3

Post by monty » February 17th, 2017, 10:40 pm

Having this level of control must be the ultimate filmmaker's dream. I imagine it was hard for Khrzhanovsky to give that up and it probably helps explain why the shooting went on for years...
Last edited by monty on February 17th, 2017, 10:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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#4

Post by PeacefulAnarchy » February 17th, 2017, 11:18 pm

I was going to instinctively answer "no" to "The Most Outlandish Film Project Ever?" because hyperbole is dumb, but wow after reading those quotes it's a fair question. Where did the money for all this come from?

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#5

Post by monty » February 17th, 2017, 11:23 pm

PeacefulAnarchy on Feb 17 2017, 04:18:08 PM wrote:I was going to instinctively answer "no" to "The Most Outlandish Film Project Ever?" because hyperbole is dumb, but wow after reading those quotes it's a fair question. Where did the money for all this come from?
It's a co-production between Russia, Sweden, Germany and France and has received backing from the Swedish Film Institute, Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg, MDM, Arte France Cinéma, Ukrainian State Film Agency, WDR/Arte, and Eurimages.
Last edited by monty on February 17th, 2017, 11:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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#6

Post by Cynical Cinephile » February 17th, 2017, 11:24 pm

It's like a real-life version of Synecdoche, New York
Exactly what I was gonna say.

This is completely insane, I've never heard of anything even remotely similar. We've all heard of method acting, but I've never heard of method directing. I'll check those links and videos later. This is fascinating, I wonder what the finished product will look like.
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#7

Post by monty » February 17th, 2017, 11:25 pm

Last edited by monty on February 17th, 2017, 11:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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#8

Post by monty » February 17th, 2017, 11:32 pm

This is pretty sick:

Image

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#9

Post by PeacefulAnarchy » February 17th, 2017, 11:33 pm

monty on Feb 17 2017, 04:23:36 PM wrote:
PeacefulAnarchy on Feb 17 2017, 04:18:08 PM wrote:I was going to instinctively answer "no" to "The Most Outlandish Film Project Ever?" because hyperbole is dumb, but wow after reading those quotes it's a fair question. Where did the money for all this come from?
It's a co-production between Russia, Sweden, Germany and France and has received backing from the Swedish Film Institute, Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg, MDM, Arte France Cinéma, Ukrainian State Film Agency, WDR/Arte, and Eurimages.
Sure, but this still seems like it would cost a ton. I'm partway through reading the article, though, and it seems the answer is mind control and an internal micro-economy.


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#11

Post by monty » February 18th, 2017, 12:17 am

On a sidenote, has anyone here seen his debut feature, 4, which was widely acclaimed on the international festival circuit?
Sight and Sound described it as a "bizarre Russian shaggy-dog story of cloned girls, chewed bread and orgies among the aged.”

Last edited by monty on February 18th, 2017, 12:21 am, edited 1 time in total.

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#12

Post by Lonewolf2003 » February 18th, 2017, 1:54 am

That's no film production, that's a cult.
In fact I'm surprised the filming hasn't gone on. I suspect it stopped because money finally did run out and not because the cult leader aka the director wanted to stop.

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#13

Post by monty » February 18th, 2017, 2:09 am

Lonewolf2003 on Feb 17 2017, 06:54:35 PM wrote:That's no film production, that's a cult.
In fact I'm surprised the filming hasn't gone on. I suspect it stopped because money finally did run out and not because the cult leader aka the director wanted to stop.
And like most cult leaders, Khrzhanovsky is quite oversexed:
They had a two-hour conversation about art, after which she was sent to the wardrobe department to be dressed in 1952 garb. ("Make her a beauty," ordered Khrzhanovsky.) The hairdo alone took two hours. Finally, by 1 a.m., Yulia was shown the set.

There they talked for two hours more, until 3 a.m., this time in private. The questioning quickly switched from art to sex. When did you lose your virginity? Can you come up to a guy in a club and fuck him without finding out as much as his name? Are any of your friends whores? ("I couldn't understand whether he meant professionals or just slutty," Yulia says. "By that time, I was well into my second sleepless night. I just wanted it all over with so I could go to sleep.")

The director wouldn't make an actual move—that wasn't his style—but clearly expected her to throw herself at him. "When I got out," remembers Yulia, "everyone was like, 'Did he ask you about sleeping with other women?' That seemed to be an important part of his interview process." In the morning, when she saw Khrzhanovsky, she started uncontrollably shaking with disgust. Soon after, an assistant curtly told her to leave: "You and Ilya have very differing outlooks on life."
One friend recalls the 16-year-old Khrzhanovsky approaching strange women, on a dare or a bet, and saying in his soft voice, "Come suck me off in the bathroom." (It somehow sounds even worse in Russian.) And they would. Some of them, anyway. Khrzhanovsky hit on everyone. It cost him friendships. But it also got him laid, again and again. "His main driving force in life is crippling, animal lust," one Moscow friend says.
Last edited by monty on February 18th, 2017, 2:11 am, edited 1 time in total.

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#14

Post by metaller » February 18th, 2017, 2:36 am

I want to see that like now. That is exactly the outlandish stuff that has my art-lust all fired up. Who wants to see the ordinary when you can see stuff like this! Give me the whole bloody freakshow!
Last edited by metaller on February 18th, 2017, 2:37 am, edited 1 time in total.
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#15

Post by Gorro » February 19th, 2017, 8:39 pm

monty on Feb 17 2017, 05:17:48 PM wrote:On a sidenote, has anyone here seen his debut feature, 4, which was widely acclaimed on the international festival circuit?
Sight and Sound described it as a "bizarre Russian shaggy-dog story of cloned girls, chewed bread and orgies among the aged.”

Yeah. I have seen it. I don't remember much from it, besides the uncomfortable orgy scene with seniors (wish I could forget that). My notes say it starts off intriguing, with a good bar dialogue, bit becomes more unfocussed and messier the longer it goes.

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#16

Post by agrimorfee » March 17th, 2017, 2:03 pm

The "making of" documentary bonus material on the DVD should be intriguing. :)

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#17

Post by gromit82 » March 18th, 2017, 9:13 pm

monty on Feb 17 2017, 03:24:10 PM wrote:
Khrzhanovsky jumps in place and winces. "See, if one of the guards heard you, he would fine me a thousand hryvnias [about $125]," he says. "Because you're my guest. It doesn't matter that I am the boss. I get frisked like everyone else. You can't use words that have no meaning in this world."
Hryvnias? He's fining people in the currency of independent Ukraine, not in rubles? So much for his demands for authenticity. ;)
Last edited by gromit82 on March 18th, 2017, 9:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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#18

Post by OldAle1 » March 18th, 2017, 9:51 pm

Sounds rockin', but no CGI? If it doesn't have CGI talking animals, I'm out. The earlier film about the chewed bread sounds cool though...
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#19

Post by brokenface » January 27th, 2019, 9:47 pm

https://www.theguardian.com/film/2019/j ... grabbed-me

https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2 ... bused-art/

Hard to know how much of this is hype/hoax but apparently they've made 13 feature films out of this project and the exhibition in Paris was due to start this week but got delayed.

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#20

Post by matthewscott8 » January 28th, 2019, 10:03 am

monty wrote:
February 18th, 2017, 12:17 am
On a sidenote, has anyone here seen his debut feature, 4, which was widely acclaimed on the international festival circuit?
Sight and Sound described it as a "bizarre Russian shaggy-dog story of cloned girls, chewed bread and orgies among the aged.”

4 is a midnight watch for me. I have the ICA dvd, and watch it reasonably frequently. Funnily enough I've never got to the end. Very enjoyable though and defo cult material.

I have been aware of Dau for sometime now, I imagine all the material coming out about it presages a release, at least I hope so.

Although he is not a seasoned director, he does come from a film family and if he's anywhere near as good as Aleksey German Jr is compared to Aleksey German, count me in.

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