10 films that influenced the life and career of Roman Bondarchuk

Roman Bondarchuk, the man behind Ukrainian Sheriffs, which this year was chosen as Ukraine’s submission in the race for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, elaborated on his list of top 10 films. Here’s what he had to say on the subject: “To me this is not a top ten list, as I don’t perceive these films linearly. Besides, the films I have watched most recently – often push out the ones I saw earlier”. As a result, films by David Lynch, Alexander Sokurov, Béla Tarr and Julio Medem had to be left out of Bondarchuk’s top 10 list.

The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972) by Luis Buñuel

I saw this film multiple times at a Kherson video rental cinema club, which I frequented in my school years. The hall could accommodate about 50 people. I remember the picture was a bit out of color, with reddish stains. Once the film ended, everyone interested would stay to drink tea from a samovar. It was very dark outside, as street lights were regularly switched off in the neighborhood, and people didn’t want to leave. 1990s, drinking tea by candlelight, talking about cinema and the radically different life it depicts. It was then that I felt the urge to study film directing in order to create my own reality.

 

The Wrong Move (1975) by Wim Wenders

This is a healing film for all those who want to become filmmaker, writer or any other kind of artist. You don’t need to look too far for inspiration: people closest to you and the circumstances of your life are the best source of inspiration you may have. You don’t need to climb a mountain to feel it. It was very important for me to understand this.

 

Spring for the Thirsty (1965) by Yuriy Illienko

I saw this film on the eve of my entry examination and was struck by the concentration of ideas and imagery in a single film. During my exam I felt like the answers were coming to me from outer space, and I attributed this to having watched Illienko’s film. I still admire Spring for the Thirsty as a work of art and watch it before having to cope with a complicated task.

 

Bread Day (1998) by Sergey Dvortsevoy

This film helped me discover the power of shots. Back in 1999 they seemed almost endless. The old men were pushing the carriage with bread, along a railway track towards the village, for almost an hour. And all this time your thoughts could be wandering practically anywhere. It’s a very powerful film, and I still remember it even after so many years.

 

The Outskirts (1998) by Pyotr Lutsik

It’s an incredibly stylish and subtle utopian film that mixes comedy and tragedy, dreadfulness and magnificence. The characters fire at each other and then become friends. They sank their teeth into a local government official’s throat – but well, he certainly deserved it. And the scenes of Moscow on fire are so mesmerizing that you want to watch them over and over again.

 

Zabriskie Point (1970) by Michelangelo Antonioni

Here it’s not Moscow, but a lavish American villa that is blown up repeatedly in one of the characters’ imagination. Some slightly burnt household items out of the Vogue magazine are floating through the air. And then there are lovers in the dunes. One can never get tired of these scenes. Antonioni’s Zabriskie Point has this irrational tactile beauty about it. This film is absolutely free of structure. Antonioni managed not only to film his work in the USA but also sell it to Americans. In my opinion, this masterpiece is a true example of cinematographic and conceptual art.

 

Amarcord (1973) by Federico Fellini

This film reveals the nature of cinema itself. So far no one was able to provide a most adequate review for this film. You fall in love with absolutely each and every character the first time you set your eyes on them. Amarcord looks at the world through wide-open and beautiful eyes of a child.

 

Doc’s Kingdom (1988) by Robert Kramer

What impressed me here is how matter-of-factly a person’s loneliness is portrayed, which only intensifies the character’s despair and makes the viewer more compassionate towards him. I was simply enchanted by how the characters’ inner dialogues are visualized (each of them gives their own interview).

 

Love Streams (1984) by John Cassavetes

Here everything is simple in form. Tripods and cables are often in the picture. Sometimes, during the night scenes, you can see a flashlight on the camera and operator’s shadows. Full of hand-held shots, Love Streams must have been filmed on the fly. But you simply don’t notice these things, for very subtle things transpire, and you can no longer think of anything else.

 

Landscape (2003) by Sergei Loznitsa

It’s a film where calculation creates harmony. What seems like total chaos – mud puddles, dilapidated houses, oracal signs, and passers-by at a bus stop – suddenly falls into a certain pattern and comes to life. All these things become more real than they already are. It’s a perfect solution with nothing more to add or take away. Watching this film is like opening a door with a key. Loznitsa’s intellectual sobriety and logic stunned me at the time and continue to impress to this day.