News from the Locarno Festival

Critic of "Durak"

Critic of "Durak"



“My film represents most of Russian life. Not the past, but the models of human relations that have existed for hundreds of years in Russia,” explained director Yuri Bykov at the press conference for Durak (The Fool), screening at the Festival in competition as part of the Concorso internazionale. Taking place over a single night, Durak tells the story of Dima Niktin (Artyom Bystrov), a plumber who finds himself at the mercy of small-town government bureaucracy when he discovers that the tenement building he is servicing is in immediate danger of collapse. The setting of the film was very loosely based on the director’s own memories of growing up in a similar environment.

Also present was lead actor Bystrov, who was praised for his quietly intense performance as the plumber Niktin. As an actor himself, Bykov believes in allowing actors a great deal of freedom when making character choices (“If he is well motivated, he can give it his all”)

Despite the dark subject matter, it was not Bykov’s intention to make a pessimistic film. “The character wins when he does everything he can possibly do to succeed. What’s important is to try and win.” For Bykov, the film’s ultimate message is one of optimism and hope. “The result is not important. The attempt to reach success is important, regardless of whether success comes or not.”

Comparisons have been made to Dostoyevsky’s The Fool, but Bykov is quick to disregard this connection. “Dostoyevsky’s character is a pathological liar. My film’s character is pragmatic, but he has a moral code. Russian politics is based on lies, and the character is not affected by this social disease. Thank God these people exist to give us this high example of truth. We need such people.”

Mallory Andrews

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