Between Freedom and Boredom: “Goodbye, Cinephiles!”


(“Goodbye, Cinephiles!” (dir. Stanislav Bytiutskyi, 2014)

Dear S.,

I’ve seen your movie and I can say that, in some parts, it is a crap and, in some parts, it is a beauty. It has a good concept – freedom – but unfortunately it didn’t touch me enough to make me watch it twice. Our conversations during the filming have had a much more lasting effect on me, though. /Here a link to the post about Spanish House in BG/

I was intrigued and fascinated by the first part, of course: the dialogue between Sasha, you and me. We are the main protagonists of the film, aren’t we? But I hope it was as interesting for a more objective viewer as it was for me. The dialogue was improvised enough to breathe life into the scene and to create action out of our passivity and suspense out of our pointless conversation. The audience sat through this part without a slightest movement. And even though my face was shown from the wrong angle almost all of the time, I was relieved that the whole setup looked decent in that mysterious bluish light of torches that it took for us so much pain to use.

People around me kept their seats through most part of the film and one could sense curiosity and attentiveness in their postures. From time to time, when it was appropriate, they giggled; from time to time, they whispered to one another. From playful our conversation slid into a painfully serious one, and it took the audience by surprise: we started discussing society and our place in it, winter demonstrations in Kiev and their impact on us and our countrymen. The audience hushed and the silence continued through the next scene as well: a totally black screen in combination with the faint sounds of sticks banging on metal barrels during the protests, which grew louder until all sounds ceased and the black screen was changed with a new image – some building somewhere in the Kiev night. It lasted for some minutes more and then there appeared snickering, sighs, and creaking of chairs. Some took off on the sly and, to tell you the truth, I was tempted to do the same. But something that I discovered on the way, kept me in my seat.

True, I couldn’t understand why on Earth you’ve decided to repeat a monotonous guitar riff three times in a row before switching on the protesters’ banging? Why on Earth the next scene had nothing but an image of some part of Kyiv in the night, without any sign, any explanation of what and where and why it was there in front of us for the next five minutes. Later on you told that it was a cinema hall “Ukraina” and it had some significance for the Ukrainian culture but I don’t quite remember what exactly happened there and why it was so significant – the microphone was a bit dead at the q’n’a, I guess.

Anyway, there was one thing that kept me in my seat and liberated me from any inconvenience during the following minutes.

It happened in a car, in the car that was shown on the screen. We or, rather, the audience sat at the back of that car and rode from the city center towards somewhere. There was no sound, again, and the ride took 15 minutes or so. I started chatting with my boyfriend at the seat on my left, we chewed on a chocolate bar, and I told him what had been cut out of the conversation scenes; and in that process of chatting in whispers, squeezing each other’s knee and looking sideways at the screen, where the night city passed by in the headlights, I started enjoying, gloriously, the freedom of a viewer in a cinema hall, who wasn’t obliged to sit still through all the images shoved into him/her. One could do whatever one wanted at a cinema screening, after all, and have even more fun with all possible and impossible activities in combination with images and sounds emanated from the screen. (Especially, when those images are nothing special. Like, I wouldn’t even dream to look away from the beauty of some images in some films but well, there are different kinds of movies!)

And it was such a border experience: riding in that car on the screen and chatting with a person sitting right here, by my side, as if it all happened in some gray area between life and illusion. This is cinema, isn’t it?

It was a party where we all finished after that 15 minute ride. As the title of the film hinted, it was a goodbye party. I kept on chatting with my bf through the scene, telling him stories about those who were partying in it. It was as if we were present at the gathering and stood aside with our drinks to gossip. It was fun.

Though, you could torture me with fire and water but when the credits appeared I couldn’t tell what the whole film was about. About all of us, I guess, people around you. I wonder whether it would be the same experience for those viewers who have no connection to you or us, who have no idea what the hell we were talking about or what was happening in Ukraine.

Oh yes, there were glorious moments yet to come, at the very end of the film! It was a beauty that pierced me to the core: the black and white footage from the Lumiere brothers and A. Dovzhenko films. There were scenes of people moving and watching a volcano erupting; people escaping from their burning villages; images of nature. I had tears in my eyes. And it is a shame that these images were coming not from your camera. I hope, one day they will.

What was it that happened to me during our “Goodbye” séance? I was drinking beauty in black and white. I was present in color. I was sad and relieved when the lights came, far too early: sad because it was all finished; relieved that it was a high time to start something new.

With best wishes,

Your friend,



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