David Safarian

Yana Drouz

 

HOT COUNTRY, COLD WINTER

 Feature, 100 minutes, color

SHORT SYNOPSIS

He and She. Tigran and Katya. They are around 40. They live a hard cold winter in absurd circumstances of total energy crisis. They remember their childhood not to notice the surrounding darkness. They make jokes and work hard not to notice the cold. And they survive.

 

HOT COUNTRY, COLD WINTER

 COMEDY

SYNOPSIS

This is a simple story of a man and a woman - TIGRAN and KATYA - aged around 40.

They come from different places. They have different backgrounds, different memories.

TIGRAN is an archeologist. KATYA is a puppet master. She makes her puppets with tulle for the puppet theatre and for herself. They met while TIGRAN was on an archeological dig near KATYA's home town.

KATYA's childhood was spent in a small town in Central Russia. A town with quiet streets and wooden houses dotted along the banks of a great river.

TIGRAN was born and grew up in Yerevan - the capital of Armenia - a place where East meets West - the oriental love of loud festivities, combined with a western more-rational approach to life.

TIGRAN and KATYA live in this city in absurd circumstances of a total energy crisis in the building where TIGRAN grew up. There is no light, no heating. The long dark and cold winter nights seems to be endless. They remember their childhoods. KATYA remembers her parents, her grandmother in a little Russian village. KATYA remembers her first childhood fears and dreams as in fairy-tales. TIGRAN remembers how, with a friend, he shot films with his amateur 8mm camera. He also remembers his first love - the red-haired daughter of the stoker. Formerly their building had its own coal-fired heating system, with a stoker who lived in the basement with his family. TIGRAN decides to try and overhaul the system. He finds the old stoker and persuades him to come and help revive it. The old stoker is happy that somebody still needs him. But... to revive the heating system they need a new chimney: an all-metal pipe. The old one which was five-storeys high and resembled the first space rockets, had been cut-up for scrap metal when the modern heating system was installed.

TIGRAN, KATYA, and their neighbours decide to try and find the badly needed chimney: a search that continues through the winter, and often done in a comical way.

Finally they get it, but... the snow is already starting to melt. One can hear the sound of pitter-patter on the tin roof. Spring comes.

KATYA is trying to make a joke:

- Spring comes... the pipe comes... Better late, than never.

TIGRAN is angry:

- There is nothing to laugh at.

- Shall I make you laugh?

TIGRAN does not answer.

- We are going to have a child,- KATYA says.

 

All winter they had laughed, cried, made jokes, got angry and made up. Found themselves something to do to forget the cold. Reminisced so as not to notice the dark. Sought warmth. Grew happy when they found it - and sad when they realized it wasn't enough. Sometimes they were weak, yet in the most difficult moments they found strength in themselves. TIGRAN. KATYA. Mother. Brother. The neighbours. The whole building... They all lived through that terrible winter.

Their happiness and troubles, their memories and their perception of today's reality are often different.  Sometimes alike.  But understandable. 

For themselves...  For the others...  For everybody...  all over the world...  as they concern such notions as MOTHER, FATHER, SON, DAUGHTER, BROTHER, FRIEND... 

FEARS, LOVE, HAPPINESS... 

 

FORM AND STYLE / Director's Statement

This is a very personal film for me. The funny things are the funny things about me. The sad stories are my sad stories. And my wife introduced a "big part" of her life and emotions. She brought the stories about us from her point of view. She brought her own stories and recollections about the place where she was born and grown up.

A city with a population of a million and a half, surrounded by early Christian churches, old fortresses, a wonderful biblical landscape... An ancient city with young rose-coloured buildings of the last 30-40 years. This was Yerevan. Today, it is losing its beauty. Losing the rose colour of its stones. Losing its face. Losing everything...

When I was thirteen or fourteen years old I would take out an 8mm camera and together with my friends, shoot the city, our courtyard, our neighbours. In this old footage, there is both love for the people, and a juvenile rejection of injustice. There is a taste of the time.

This footage - converted from 8mm - I am going to use in my film.

The building where I grew up is one where artists and sculptors live. And this building with its large courtyard is going to be the main shooting location.

Armenian professional actors will be used for many of the supporting characters, but real artists and sculptors (the inhabitants of the building) will also be involved.  They will create real art works during the shooting of the film. 

I believe that these professional art works, together with the 8mm amateur material used in the film, will bring a real taste of both the present and past. 

There are going to be many recollections in the film.  Recollections constantly intermingling with the main events of today.  The events of the long cold winter. 

Colour plays a key role in this film. So does the quality and nature of the lighting. Very often a paraffin stove or candles are the only light source. Faces, eyes, and surfaces have warm, flickering, ochre-yellow highlights not cold white ones. This kind of dimness is well-suited to a sudden explosion of light (as in scenes from the past: the same room but lighter, the same people, but  younger).

Some shots in the film will raise an impression that they are black and white, but closer to the end of the shot the colour will appear.  Possibly the following shot will start in colour, but later (somewhere in the middle of its duration) it will return to black and white.

So, sometimes during the film not only the light but even the colour will have a kind of breathing.

The main characters and many of the supporting characters in the film appear at different stages of their lives - from childhood to the "present" - and are going to be acted by different actors.

Some different characters will be played by the same actor (eg., the STOKER and SERKO, or KATYA and STOKER'S DAUGHTER, as well as KATYA as a child and the RED-HAIRED GIRL).

And this is not an accidental choice at all. Sometimes the people being so different, being from different places, different countries are so much alike...

The people all over the world are alike - and this is maybe the main message which we should get from our passed crazy 20th century. And this is going to be actually the main message of this film.