Pawel Nazaruk and Tomasz Adamski – authors of Russian Hell etude – A hole to hell – talk about what is the most important aspect of being a documentary makers and share their view of contemporary hell. What it is and what it is not….
Pawel, you are the creator of Searching for Hell concept and the initiator of the whole project. Why Hell? What do you find inspiring about Hell?
P.N. Hell is intriguing. I’d love to be offered a trip to Hell and safely back. But since these were hard to find in travel agencies, I came up with the idea to go to Hell on my own and shoot a documentary about it. The subject really gripped me when I started digging into the story of a Siberian borehole (the deepest in the world still today) and the sounds of repenting souls allegedly recorded there. That became the starting point to embark on the search for Hell across all of the different meanings that it has in our culture, history and present day life.
Hell is universal. In one sense or another it exists in every culture or community living on the Earth. That’s why the filmic search for Hell spans from Russia and Norway through USA, Japan and Indonesia up to Congo. I’ve teamed up with Tomek Adamski to cover the Russian and Norwegian hells and managed to find some very talented filmmakers from all over the world who portrayed their visions of Hell in their respective locations. The result of this collaborative effort is the feature documentary Searching For Hell
How different was working on the Searching for Hell film for you personally from your previous films?
T.A. First of all, the first time I worked on the film in such a way that the starting point was a kind of idea, in this case, it was hell. In my current projects usually at the beginning of the work was the man or some event or story but not an idea.
Besides, I have never been so far in the North. I haven’t seen two Hells within three weeks (in fact, I had never seen any). I’ve never lived in one apartment with a fellow filmmaker for such a long time
The subject of Hell is very universal. What’s your personal definition of Hell in our contemporary world? How would you define it?
P.N. Hell always starts from a man. In contemporary world too. Hell as a synonym of torture, torment, never ending pain it’s something that one man can do for the other. You can wear it in some kind of stories, pictures, allegories but always at the heart of it would be pain caused by the other man.
What do you see as the most important message that your film carries? What would you like to pass on to the audience?
P.N. In the Russian etude we have to deal with two levels of hell. One is the story of SG3 so the deepest borehole in the ground, which reportedly reached the gates of hell. And the second is that what people have done with this place and how they treat it today, which tells the story of our hero. A place that could be scientific, cultural and tourist center is one big pile of scrap, and it just becomes hell for Yuri Smirnoff (Geologist) who used to work there. Hell may arise as a result of the action of the people, but also when we do nothing and the course of events we will leave ourselves.
What was the biggest challenge in shooting Searching For Hell and what surprised you most during the creation of the film?
T.A. I think that the work in the North of Russia, because you never know what you can expect there. Do not know how people react when they see you with a camera, and everywhere there are plenty of police and troops.
Two things surprised me most. One that almost all conversations with the residents of the Zapolarny after a while descended on the subjects of war and imperialist any wouldn’t be a starting point. The second thing was that we were also lucky to meet a very helpful people who invited us to their houses and suggests us what to do in a crisis situation.
What inspires you to create documentaries in general?
P.N/T.A. Curiosity. Because you never know what the project may bring. You may plan something at the very beginning, at the level of writing the screenplay and then during the shots, it’s changing a lot and it’s always different than the initial concept. It is surprising and at the same time makes probably never stop doing movies, because what could be better in life than surprising and endless adventure which is shooting the film.
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