Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Steve Carell Redefined His Career By Surprising Everyone in 'Foxcatcher' Steve Carell Redefined His Career By Surprising Everyone in 'Foxcatcher' Watch: Ellar Coltrane on the 'Brutal' Experience of Watching 'Boyhood' After Living It Watch: Ellar Coltrane on the 'Brutal' Experience of Watching 'Boyhood' After Living It Mortem Tyldum Explains Why Alan Turing Was the Right Subject For His First English-Language Film Mortem Tyldum Explains Why Alan Turing Was the Right Subject For His First English-Language Film Why Richard Linklater’s ‘Boyhood’ is a Great, Unexpected Awards Season Frontrunner Why Richard Linklater’s ‘Boyhood’ is a Great, Unexpected Awards Season Frontrunner Watch: Patricia Arquette on Stripping Away Ego to Get to the Heart of 'Boyhood' 
Watch: Patricia Arquette on Stripping Away Ego to Get to the Heart of 'Boyhood' 'Whiplash' Breakout Miles Teller Has Officially Arrived 'Whiplash' Breakout Miles Teller Has Officially Arrived Michael Keaton Dug Deep to Deliver the Best Performance of His Career in 'Birdman' Michael Keaton Dug Deep to Deliver the Best Performance of His Career in 'Birdman' Mark Ruffalo Explains Why Dave Schultz Was One of the Most Complex Characters He's Ever Played Mark Ruffalo Explains Why Dave Schultz Was One of the Most Complex Characters He's Ever Played Keira Knightley on 'The Imitation Game' and Why Awards Matter Keira Knightley on 'The Imitation Game' and Why Awards Matter Katherine Waterston On the Good and Bad of Working With Paul Thomas Anderson Katherine Waterston On the Good and Bad of Working With Paul Thomas Anderson Emma Stone Proved She Can Do It All in 2014 Emma Stone Proved She Can Do It All in 2014 Jon Stewart is Off to a Strong Start with Directorial Debut 'Rosewater' Jon Stewart is Off to a Strong Start with Directorial Debut 'Rosewater' Awards Spotlight: Don't Be Surprised When J.K. Simmons Takes Home Oscar Awards Spotlight: Don't Be Surprised When J.K. Simmons Takes Home Oscar Jessica Chastain Proved She's a Total Chameleon in 2014 Jessica Chastain Proved She's a Total Chameleon in 2014 Laura Poitras on 'CITIZENFOUR,' The Most Dangerous Work She's Ever Done Laura Poitras on 'CITIZENFOUR,' The Most Dangerous Work She's Ever Done Jake Gyllenhaal On Doing Very Bad Things in 'Nightcrawler' Jake Gyllenhaal On Doing Very Bad Things in 'Nightcrawler' Channing Tatum Explains Why It Took Him Eight Years to Have the ‘Balls’ for ‘Foxcatcher’ Channing Tatum Explains Why It Took Him Eight Years to Have the ‘Balls’ for ‘Foxcatcher’ Ethan Hawke Didn't Know That Richard Linklater Would Bring 'Boyhood' Home So Well Ethan Hawke Didn't Know That Richard Linklater Would Bring 'Boyhood' Home So Well Jack O'Connell Explains What It’s Like to Work For Angelina Jolie Jack O'Connell Explains What It’s Like to Work For Angelina Jolie 'Red Army' Director Gabe Polsky Reveals the Story of Soviet Hockey 'Red Army' Director Gabe Polsky Reveals the Story of Soviet Hockey How Felicity Jones is Getting Noticed This Awards Season How Felicity Jones is Getting Noticed This Awards Season Edward Norton Goes Full-Blown For Alejandro González Iñárritu in 'Birdman' Edward Norton Goes Full-Blown For Alejandro González Iñárritu in 'Birdman' How Eddie Redmayne Transformed His Body and Mind to Become Stephen Hawking How Eddie Redmayne Transformed His Body and Mind to Become Stephen Hawking Oscar Isaac Explains How 'A Most Violent Year' Fits With His Other Roles Oscar Isaac Explains How 'A Most Violent Year' Fits With His Other Roles Timothy Spall Almost Went Mad to Play 'Mr. Turner' For Mike Leigh Timothy Spall Almost Went Mad to Play 'Mr. Turner' For Mike Leigh 'Gone Girl' Composer Atticus Ross: How to Write a Score Without Seeing the Film 'Gone Girl' Composer Atticus Ross: How to Write a Score Without Seeing the Film How to Play James Brown, By Chadwick Boseman: Study the Man, Listen to Drake How to Play James Brown, By Chadwick Boseman: Study the Man, Listen to Drake Chris Rock on Why Making 'Top Five' Was a No-Brainer Chris Rock on Why Making 'Top Five' Was a No-Brainer Steve James and Chaz Ebert Tackled 'Life Itself' Steve James and Chaz Ebert Tackled 'Life Itself' Bennett Miller Explains Why He Had to Make 'Foxcatcher' Bennett Miller Explains Why He Had to Make 'Foxcatcher' How Do You Roll Six Movies Into One? 'Wild Tales' Director Damian Szifron Explains How Do You Roll Six Movies Into One? 'Wild Tales' Director Damian Szifron Explains How Rosario Dawson Stole the Show From Chris Rock in 'Top Five' How Rosario Dawson Stole the Show From Chris Rock in 'Top Five' Alan Hicks: From Drummer-Surfer to Oscar-Shortlist Filmmaker Alan Hicks: From Drummer-Surfer to Oscar-Shortlist Filmmaker Alejandro González Iñárritu: 'Birdman' Could Have Been 'so wrong' Alejandro González Iñárritu: 'Birdman' Could Have Been 'so wrong' Amir Bar-Lev Likes to Make People a Little Uncomfortable Amir Bar-Lev Likes to Make People a Little Uncomfortable

Stuart Urban on "Tovarisch": Presto, the Elements of a Movie were There! (Watch It Now)

Photo of Bryce J. Renninger By Bryce J. Renninger | Indiewire April 2, 2010 at 6:16AM

At the age of thirteen in 1972, Stuart Urban became the youngest director to have a film shown at Cannes. As an adult, Urban became a successful director of both features and documentary films, winning multiple British Academy Awards. I sat down with Urban to discuss his long gestating documentary, "Tovarisch I Am Not Dead" - available in its entirety at the bottom of this page courtesy of SnagFilms, about his father Garri, a survivor of both the Gulag and the Holocaust.
0

At the age of thirteen in 1972, Stuart Urban became the youngest director to have a film shown at Cannes. As an adult, Urban became a successful director of both features and documentary films, winning multiple British Academy Awards. I sat down with Urban to discuss his long gestating documentary, "Tovarisch I Am Not Dead" - available in its entirety at the bottom of this page courtesy of SnagFilms, about his father Garri, a survivor of both the Gulag and the Holocaust.

“Tovarisch I Am Not Dead”
Director: Stuart Urban
Executive Producers: Alan Jay, Mark Pegg
Producer: Stuart Urban
Co-Producer: Emily Harris
Cinematography: Ben Nicolosi-Endo, Shay Peleg
Editors: Emily Harris
Music: Dirk Campbell
85 Minutes

On the idea for "Tovarisch"...

Having a father who was a great adventurer and escaper, having got through both the Nazi Holocaust and the Soviet Gulag, was both a blessing and a curse. It marked him and the family, but made him unique. I had planned a major drama feature on him with BBC Films, but could never find either the right actor or enough funding. So the thought occurred - just present the real man in a documentary!

...on his approach to filmmaking...

The film emerged from the mass of video diaries and research as we travelled round his places of imprisonment, escape, and evasion in the former Soviet Union, where his family had been killed, how he searched for any survivors for decades, and so on. But because my father wanted to be in control of his own identity and image, I could not really ever finish the film that was made to celebrate his life and character until, sadly, he had died, when various secrets begun to emerge and mysteries deepen.

...on the challenges of promoting this kind of film...

Despite the growth in “first person” film-making among feature docs, and despite the fact that I had already won two British Academy awards as a director, absolutely no public bodies or TV channels were in the slightest bit interested. Hence I made use of video diaries shot with development funds for the main drama, on which I retained copyright. Hey presto, the elements of a movie were there.

...on audience reaction...

It works as a universal story of a son discovering his father, to which everyone can relate. It also happens to be about a unique survivor, and thus of interest to anyone who admires survivors! Many critics also found unexpected humour and vitality in a film that deals with such dark material.

...on sources of inspiration...

I enjoyed "Capturing the Friedmans" as a documentary whose mysteries remained defiantly unresolved. "Europa, Europa" is a brilliantly told movie of a young Jew surviving Nazism and Communism - another one that deserved its Oscar nod. And some obvious classics like "Shoah," Marcel Ophuls’s documentaries…

...and on future projects

Right now my attentions are split between two wildly differing films: "The Golem," which is to be the first feature drama made in Yiddish for over 60 years, a Jewish-Gothic folk tale starring Topol (from "Fiddler on the Roof"); and "Babes of Baghdad," a low budget comedy musical about a mythical club in the Green Zone. Imagine "Cabaret," but in Baghdad :)

The film is available its entirety on Snagfilms:

This article is related to: Documentary






Check out Indiewire on LockerDome on LockerDome



Awards Season Spotlight

Contender Conversations

Indiewire celebrates the best and brightest from Independent film, Hollywood, and foreign cinema.

More