DAU. Natasha press conference: The bizarre alternate reality of the DAU project
The magnitude of the DAU project, which eventually led to DAU. Natasha, has made the film one of the most eagerly anticipated titles of the 70th Berlin International Film Festival. The project was created at the DAU project’s “The Institute” in Kharkiv, Ukraine. Meant to mimic a Soviet-era government research installation, the immersive facility had actors living onsite for years, some of them staying in character for the entirety of their stay. DAU. Natasha is one of many projects that has emerged from nearly 700 hours of footage recorded at the Kharkiv site. The film premiered in competition at this year’s Berlinale.
Speaking about the overall scope of the DAU experiment, director Ilya Khrzhanovskiy said: “As far as the reality that is generated by the film is concerned, I can say that all the feelings are real, but the circumstances aren’t real in which these feelings happen. It’s a kind of intermediate world between two realities. The people who came into this project at the time the institute was set up – the 13,000 square metres, which is basically a stage set. People were working there – they were all amateurs, amateur actors, and in this stage set we created a different period, a reproduction of a long period of history between the 30s and the 60s.”
The director continued: “The steps that they took within this space became reality, even though the circumstances of the time, of course, were quite different. The violence wasn’t real – it was limited. In the real world, you pay the maximum price, but in this unreal, intermediate world, this world of feelings, you pay in a different way – you pay in a different currency. You can’t build a career on this project. It’s not Hollywood. This is a project about how people consciously decide to go on a journey – a difficult, emotional journey. And this journey is very honest.”
Natalia Berezhnaya plays the titular Natasha, and the actress commented on the immersive, improvisational nature of making the film, saying: “There wasn’t a script, there wasn’t a screenplay – we were living as we lived. We simply had a certain way of living. In some ways it was scary, in some ways it was oppressive. We had fear, we had love, we had relationships, we were living. We didn’t work according to a screenplay – it was our life.”
Image: Ilya Khrzhanovskiy © Berlinale
DAU. Natasha does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews from our Berlin Film Festival 2020 coverage here.
For further information about the event visit the Berlin Film Festival website here.
Watch the highlights of the DAU. Natasha press conference here: