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The 70th Berlinale International Film Festival will be held from February 20 to March 1, 2020.
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Nomera (Numbers) from Oleg Sentsov world premieres at Berlinale's 70th anniversary event

(Oleg Sentsov, Akhtem Seitablaiev before the world premiere of Nomera, © Lindsay Bellinger)

by LINDSAY R. BELLINGER

 

Ukrainian filmmaker, activist and writer Oleg Sentsov was unjustly imprisoned in a Russian gulag for six years after being arrested by the Russian secret service in May 2014. His alleged terrorist activities led to a 20 year prison sentence but he was released in September 2019 in a prisoner swap. Over the course of these six years many people protested worldwide for his release and many probably regarded him as the world's most famous political prisoner. Through a series of letters from prison, Sentsov was able to bring his dystopian story Numbers (Nomera) to life with the help of Akhtem Seitablaev and their cast and crew. The film very much keeps that essence of theater life but brings so much more. The ten numbered individuals practice their daily tasks without questioning much at all, at first, although some still break the rules from time to time. They are nameless. They speak often about "the Great Zero" who is unseen but still scares them. My recommendation would be for everyone to watch this film and don't bother watching the trailer because it reveals way too much, trust me. 

 

(Carlo Chatrian introducing the film and filmmakers, © Lindsay Bellinger)

 

Carlo Chatrian, in his first year as the artistic director of the Berlinale, was thrilled to be presenting the world premiere of Numbers (Nomera), as it was unofficially open the film festival. He first watched the film with his team over the summer when Oleg Sentsov was still in prison, so perhaps the film was added to the lineup without knowing whether or not Sentsov would be free. Chatrian believes that the film is a great statement for the freedom of expression, which I greatly agree with after having experienced the film. Chatrian added that he was so pleased to show Numbers at Maxim Gorki Theater, which is a Berlin staple and representative of the city and its residents. 

 

(Oleg Sentsov, Akhtem Seitablaiev with cast and crew, © Lindsay Bellinger)

 

 

(Oleg Sentsov, Akhtem Seitablaiev, producer and moderators after the screening, © Lindsay Bellinger)

 

During the discussion, Sentsov revealed that Numbers (Nomera) was conceived by him some ten years earlier as a play and it was his friends who convinced him to make it into a film while he was in prison. They were all hoping that he'd be released before they started shooting but since that wasn't the case he chose Ukrainian actor-director Akhtem Seitablaev to facilitate the directing. The moderators were somewhat pressing in the questioning, hoping for the filmmaker to say that his film is about Russia. His answer was very straight forward, "It wasn't meant to be about Russia. It is not the only totalitarian country in the world." After Seitablaiev said that he agrees with Sentsov's sentiments he added, "...it's a recount of Noah's Ark in a very unrealistic setting." The evening came to an end when Seitablaiev shared his profound statement, "You understand that if today I keep silent, then tomorrow I will be arrested." The moderator agreed and repeated the sentence, changing "I" to "we" thereby including the entire audience before saying how that was the best way to conclude the discussion. Kudos to the great translator who provided the Russian to English live translation for the audience members. Great translators can't get enough praise. 

 

 

Crew


Director: Oleg Sentsov, in collaboration with Akhtem Seitablaiev
Screenplay: Oleg Sentsov
Cinematography: Adam Sikora
Editing: Jarosław Kamiński
Music: Milosh Elich
Sound Design: Wojciech Mielimąka
Sound: Bartłomiej Woźniak
Production Design: Kirill Shuvalov
Costumes: Svitlana Dziubenko
Make-up: Anastasiia Sutiahina
Assistant Director: Yanina Kucher
Casting: Anastasiia Chorna
Production Manager: Polina Bushynska
Producers: Anna Palenchuk, Violetta Kamińska, Izabela Wójcik, Dariusz Jabłoński
Co-producers: Helena Uldrichová, Małgorzata Jurczak
Associate Producer: Alexandra Lebret
Co-production: Ĉeská Televize, Prag
                        Canal+, Warschau
                        Halley Production, Paris

Cast

Evhen Chernykov (Seventh)
Agatha Larionova (Eighth)
Oleksandr Begma (Ninth)
Maksym Devizorov (Eleventh)
Iryna Mak (Second)
Oleksandr Yarema (First)
Viktor Zhdanov (Third)
Lorena Kolibabchuk (Fourth)
Denys Rodnianskyi (Fifth)
Olena Uzliuk (Sixth)
Mariia Smolyakova (Tenth)
Evhen Lebedin (Eleventh Jr)
Oleg Karpenko (Judge 1)
Oleksandr Laptyi (Judge 2)
Viktor Andrienko (Zero)


Produced by

435 Films
Kiew, Ukraine

Apple Film Production
Warschau, Poland
www.applefilm.pl www.applefilm.pl

World sales
Latido Films
Madrid, Spain
 

 

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About Berlin

Chatelin Bruno

Berlin 2019: The dailies from the Berlin Film Festival brought to you by our team of festival ambassadors. Vanessa McMahon, Alex Deleon, Laurie Gordon, Lindsay Bellinger and Bruno Chatelin...
Ambiance, film reviews, trailers and podcasts, EFM insider information, and much more.
Feel free to leave us your comments and share the blogs with more fans from the festivals scene.

 


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