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Vanessa McMahon


Vanessa is a novel writer, screenwriter, rep and a film producer. She shares her discoveries and film surprises. :-)

 


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Generation "П" (GENERATION P, 2011), Russia and beyond!

 

Generation "П" (GENERATION P, 2011) held its world premier this week at the 23rd Palm Springs International Film Festival, 2012.

Based on the book by Russian writer Victor Pelevin, the film is directed by American/Russian director Victor Ginzburg. The film is about Babylen Tatarsky, a copywriter for a major advertising company in the late 90’s in
Post-Soviet Russia. Babylen is put to the test by the advertising firm to find the 'new Russian identity'. Well, what seemed an easy task turns an impossible one. A culture that once turned to great literature for such an identity is now subject to extreme commercialism and consumerism where the main 'literature' being read by the masses today is one-liner copywritten ads. Nevertheless, Babylen is a writer in the truest sense and like all those Russian greats that came before, he must look to the past to create the ideal for the future. So where does he go? …to ancient Mesopotamia. And how does he do it?.. with hallucinogenic mushrooms, cocaine, and vodka and a Ouija board with an image of Che Guevera on it!!!

While many viewers were blown away by the film’s novel story-telling technique of jumping frantically in time from present to past to future to ancient history and back again to present, others walked out of the theater with a blank look on their face, saying things like: ‘I think you have to be Russian to get this film!’ Well, to each his own, and to my own I say: ‘How much more universal can you get?’

Here you have Russia, a country that in history once held one of the strongest national identities in the world. Today, over two decades after the fall of Communism, modern Russians struggle to find new beliefs and come to terms with living sans national identity/collective unconscious. But is this just taking place in Russia? No, this is a worldwide issue. People all over the world presently straddle the mouth of the abyss of extreme materialism and loss of a sense of a meaning in life. Where religions and politics once offered meaning and identity for people in the past, many of these have died like the shedding aged skin of a snake leaving only new skin exposed and unprotected and unprepared to the world’s threatening elements. So where do we go now? In a world full of dated myths and ever increasing loss of meaning, where can we turn now? Can the world live without a collective unconscious or (as in the case of this film) in a world without a national identity? Can humanity survive extreme individualism where everyone is out for herself/himself? Is life just meaningless chaos? Or is there something eternal driving us all, something uniting us making us part of a whole rather than separate from one another? An underlying meaning of life inside the core of all humanity from which we can draw our strength and collective identity? And (in GENERATION P), can Babylen Tatarsky find the truth to Russia’s new national identity?

 

-Written by Vanessa McMahon on January 16, 2012.

 

 

Here are some words from GENERATION P’s director Victor Ginzburg after the Q and A of his screening in Palm Springs.

 

VICTOR: There’s definitely a feeling of hope. A ray of hope of some realizing in this generation that something needs to change and there’s hope in that sense.

Q: What was it in the end that was the new idea of the Russian national identity?

VICTOR: Well, in the film, he gave up on finding the Russian National Idea… There’s this eternal Russian problem, the search for the national idea. And I certainly make fun of it here in the way of satire, this idea that the country has to have an idea as to why it exists. Russia has always had this concept that Russia would save the world, that it’s the third Rome, you know, and it still exists. It’s still something that is ideological that is imposed on Russian people. And it’s time to change that I think. I mean, the national idea could be something as simple as human happiness.

Q: Can you speak about the drugs being used in the film?

VICTOR: It’s the use of hallucinogenic drugs. You know, hallucinogenics arrived in Russia to subject culture, along with brands and commercialism really at the end of the Soviet Union. Russia had a vodka culture, so the hallucinogenic was a new concept. When the Soviet matrix ended there was nothing. The desert of reality. There was just ultimate freedom and in that reality hallucinogenic drugs were eye-openers in the search for meaning. You know? And I think in this story, hallucinogenic drugs played a dramatic role really, to place where the line between reality and hallucination would rest. Vodka is part of the drug mix as well...But I just love Russia. For me, it’s the most fascinating place on earth to me. It’s just pregnant with life and change and I love it.

 

 

Director Victor Ginzburg 

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