Timur Bekmambetov’s First Time moves Vin Diesel’s The Fate of the Furious

The famous director and producer about the first film about space that is a candidate for the Hollywood level

Timur Bekmambetov’s First Time moves Vin Diesel’s The Fate of the Furious Photo: Oleg Tikhonov

Timur Bekmambetov was in Kazan on 28 March to present the first big Russian 3D film about space First Time. Together with Evgeny Mironov and Sergey Ageyev he was a producer with, Dmitry Kiselev who is famous for Black Lightning, Yolki, Londongrad was the director. The film is based on a real story of Soviet cosmonaut Aleksey Leonov who was the first person to walk in space. Evgeny Mironov performed Leonov's and Konstantin Khabensky was his colleague Pavel Belyaev. The very legendary cosmonaut helped to create the film. First Time will come about on 6 April, on the eve of the memorable date dedicated to the first flight of a human being to space. Realnoe Vremya's correspondent also was at the meeting with the producer. Here are the details.

''Either to change the day of Gagarin's flight or the day of The Fate of the Furious''

Realnoe Vremya: Mr Bikmambetov, it has been said today the premiere of The Fate of the Furious with box-office success in Russia can be postponed because of the release of First Time in fear of a bigger audience. What do you think about it?

I have a complicated attitude to it. The choice here is either to change the day of Gagarin's flight or the day of The Fate of the Furious, you know. I think the Ministry of Culture is responsible for making such decisions because it is not about the economy, it is politics, our life, plans. Economically, it is not very logical. As for values, I understand why the Ministry of Culture makes such a decision because 12 April is a festive day. There is a film about the people who flew faster than Vin Diesel drove his cars. In other words, Vin Diesel's speed is 200 kph, while theirs was thousands. Vin Diesel has 500 horsepower, while these men have hundreds or millions horsepower. In general, it is not an easy issue. It is not my issue whether I agree with it or not. If I shot The Fate of the Furious, I would not agree.

Realnoe Vremya: Russian spectators are spoiled by American films about space. Won't the Russian premiere disappoint them?

It will be cool, I tell you. Have you seen Wanted or Hardcore Henry? They are cool. Here it will be as cool as Hardcore Henry. There will be moments to worry about.

In Russia, it is important that young and older people like it. This is why it has everything – adventures, drama, history, friendship, politics

Realnoe Vremya: Are you going to show it abroad?

Yes. But I don't think there will be the same Russian version. In Russia, it is important that young and older people like it. This is why it has everything – adventures, drama, history, friendship, politics. There will be a release in China for sure. In general, don't believe people who say the film was sold to this or that country. It is not true. There are few films that have an international release. But all countries watched Night Watch. But the number of people who watched it is incomparable with the people who watch American films. Anyway, the release is limited, as a rule. He's a Dragon is a good example. 50 million girls watched it in China, while in Russia, just 2-3 million people saw it.

Realnoe Vremya: Will political episodes be cut out?

There are many things about us, our life, our parents, their memories. It is not very important for international release. I think there will be a kind of modification. The keynote won't change – Leonov will go to space, not his American friend whom he met in space and they shook their hands for the first time.

''It is a disaster film, what kind of nostalgia can be?''

Is the film nostalgic?

No, it is not. The action takes place in the past, but the film is about success. It is not about how good everything was in the past and how bad it is now, and you forget it was in the past and try to survive with the hero. It is a disaster film, what kind of nostalgia can be? It is a film where you survive for 1,5 hours. Probably those who are sixtyish will recall their youth. But the majority won't feel nostalgia.

Considering the historical accuracy of the film, have not you been offered to show the film to schoolchildren? For instance, instead of History.

It is a good offer. But who will pay for it? Teacher, school, parents? I don't know, I would do it with pleasure even if they said to reduce the ticket prices threefold. I think it would be great. Let's arrange a flash mob? I assure we will make the tickets three times cheaper.

It is the first real Russian film about space – the first country to walk in space and is still there doesn't have space films. It is wrong. We are guilty towards cosmonauts. We are trying to fix it now

Realnoe Vremya: What does the film mean personally to you?

It is a big work of my pupil. Dima Kiselev shot a film he can be proud of. And it is important for me. Moreover, it is the first real Russian film about space – the first country to walk in space and is still there doesn't have space films. It is wrong. We are guilty towards cosmonauts. We are trying to fix it now. We owe… It is interesting for us, we don't owe anybody. We are interested in our people, they also speak about their issues like us, they have problems here, they are somebody's neighbours, and they are there, in space. Our cosmonauts. In addition, it is a rare possibility to tell a story of success. One always wants to tell about a hero – it is how American cinema works. There was an ordinary person, he had many trials, but he coped with all them and won. It is a big success for us to have a possibility to tell such a success story in our country with all problems.

Can you name the budget of the film?

Income sources are different. First of all, Zhenya Mironov and I were co-producers and collected money by all means. The budget is about 500 million rubles – the budget is big. To be more precise, it is catastrophically small for American films. It is considered a small-budget film for Americans. But it is a big budget for us. Almost 1/3 of this money – 200-250 million rubles – is the money of Cinema Foundation, which is annually given to big Russian film studios to make films. About 100 million were borrowed. Mainly Alfa Bank saved us. It helped us when our money ran out. We reshot the film several times because our director changed, and the material did not seem to be interesting enough. And we decided to reshoot it, to increase the budget for graphics, to make more effects, more attraction. In brief, if we divide it, 40% are of Cinema Foundation, 20-30% were borrowed and 30% are the bank's aid.

You decided to base on a real story of cosmonauts who walked in open space, performed a feat. Kazan also has its own hero who is Mikhail Devyataev who performed a feat, stole a plane and returned to his homeland. Don't have you any desire to shoot a film about war based on firm facts?

Write, with pleasure. I have heard this story.

A book written by our compatriot is, in fact, a ready scenario. And I think this story will be popular.

Wasn't there any film? With pleasure, write.

By Maria Gorozhaninova. Photo: Oleg Tikhonov