Undefeated Directors in Moscow: Day 4
Our fourth day began early with a pick up at the hotel by Tatiana Yurovskaya, the principal at the Slavic-American-Anglo School in Moscow. Tatiana had attended the first screening of Undefeated at the Show US! Film Festival two days before. She had felt that the film was so absolutely necessary for her students to see that she convinced the US Embassy organizers to add another event to our schedule. We drove through what seemed to be a more suburban, affluent area of Moscow and arrived at the private school. We were impressed to see that the school’s auditorium was filled with people, mostly high school age and their parents, on a Saturday morning when school was not in session. A number of people had come to the screening at the festival earlier in the week and were thrilled to meet the Oscar-winning directors.
Dan and TJ showed clips of the film and discussed how they became filmmakers, came to learn the story of the team in Undefeated, and their process of making the film. Students asked whether they ever asked the individuals in the film to do anything specific or gave them direction. Dan and TJ explained that early on they decided that they would never ask their character to do anything on camera and if they missed a crucial moment, it was their mistake. The goal was to capture reality unfold in front of the camera. One particularly eloquent student questioned their usage of emotional music queues when trying to shoot a film in the style of direct cinema, raising broader theoretical questions about documentary filmmaking. A number of teachers expressed how personally touched they were by the portrayal of Coach Bill as such a compelling leader and father figure. One older woman thanked Dan and TJ for celebrating teachers instead of television and the Internet.
After the Q&A session, students took photos with the filmmakers and we were invited to a small reception with the teachers, administrators and friends of the school. At the reception, we met a husband and wife couple who agreed to take us to one of the touristic areas of Moscow to buy souvenirs. In old Arbat, we picked up some typical Russian dolls and various Soviet-era relics.
That evening was the second screening of Undefeated at the Show US! Film Festival at 35mm Movie Theater. After the Q&A, we were invited out to dinner by a group of people in the audience. They had a friend who worked at a Georgian restaurant and were eager to show us a different version of Moscow. When we arrived at the small restaurant, one half was taken up by a Russian wedding and the wedding singer quickly took a liking to us, splitting his time between the wedding and our table. The evening was filled with many toasts and appreciation for Dan and TJ’s film and their visit to Moscow. After a late night, we headed back to the hotel to prepare to leave the next morning for the city of Yekaterinburg.
-Rachel Gandin Mark, AFS Staff