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Russian actor Viktoria Miroshnichenko on her debut with 'Beanpole', and being nominated for the European Film Awards

All smiles: Viktoria Miroshnichenko at the première of Beanpole at IFFI on Saturday.

All smiles: Viktoria Miroshnichenko at the première of Beanpole at IFFI on Saturday.  

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Kantemir Balagov’s film, which is Russia’s official entry to the 92nd Academy Awards, premièred at IFFI on Saturday

Actor Viktoria Miroshnichenko’s critically-acclaimed debut in Beanpole has landed her a nomination at the prestigious European Film Awards, which will take place next month in Berlin.

The 25-year-old actor, who was roped in for Beanpole while studying at the Russian Institute of Theatre Arts – GITIS, from where she graduated this year, is competing with the likes of Olivia Colman (The Favourite) and Trine Dyrholm (Queen of Hearts).

“It has all come together so wonderfully, first Cannes (where Beanpole won Best Director and FIPRESCI Prize for Best Film in the Un Certain Regard section), then Oscars and now this nomination,” says Ms. Miroshnichenko, sitting in a Panaji hotel bar on Saturday, all packed to leave for Moscow.

Kantemir Balagov’s film, which is Russia’s official entry to the 92nd Academy Awards, premièred at IFFI on Saturday, where Ms. Miroshnichenko walked the red carpet in a mauve sequin gown. In the historical drama, she plays a nurse in a hospital packed with the survivors of World War II in 1945 Leningrad. The film beautifully recreates a mise-en-scène of devastation and newly-found peace, in which two women journey through hopelessness and loss.

Ms. Miroshnichenko believes that the effects of war transcend time. Recently, the actor visited an exhibition in Moscow about the 2004 Beslan school siege and met a few survivors of the attack. A female survivor walked up to the actor and confided that she experiences the same concussions that Ms. Miroshnichenko performs in the film. “I am interested in these moments where reality intersects with cinema,” she said.

The melancholic and tender film explores the trauma left behind by war, especially on women, who are often sidelined in historical accounts. “Kantemir feels the same way as you,” said Ms. Miroshnichenko. “And I agree of course.” But the actor has a different perspective of the film. “I look at a second layer, which is of the war within, and that is something we can face even in modern times,” she says.

It’s the lingering effects of World War II in present time that fascinates the actor. Her grandparents unfailingly celebrate the Russian Victory Day on May 9 every year, commemorating the surrender of Nazi Germany, while Mr. Balagov relegates it to be a “day of sorrow” marking the loss of thousands of lives. “While I respect my grandparents’ views, I believe that you must remember, think and know about this past but not celebrate it,” said Ms. Miroshnichenko.

Immersive experience

Filmed in a pensive and poignant tone, Beanpole was an immersive experience for the actor. Once the shoot was over she found it hard to return to her university life, after living the trauma of her character. “The director asked me to not speak to anybody on the set, look inward and think about the story the entire time,” recalled the actor. During the shoot, Ms. Miroshnichenko shared a small flat with her co-actor Vasilisa Perelygina, cooked simple food and lost weight as the days went by, to appear like women impacted by the lack of food supply post-war.

“Balagov spoke to me a lot about the character, voice and intonation,” said Ms. Miroshnichenko, who was told to watch films and books on the war, including Svetlana Alexievich’s book, The Unwomanly Face of War, which inspired Beanpole.

Stoic, unblinking and reticent, Ms. Miroshnichenko brings out the sorrow, trauma, helplessness and resilience of her character, through her hollow gaze and periodic concussions. “Despite the helplessness, I feel like my character is much stronger than the others,” said the actor. “She believes that going slow will take her a long way.”

It’s a philosophy the actor seems to have implemented in her life as well. Currently, she is occupied with two upcoming plays in The State Theatre of Nations, Moscow, and St. Petersburg. While there’s no dearth of film offers coming her way, Ms. Miroshnichenko wants to take it slow. The plan, for now, is to travel where Beanpole takes her and head to Berlin next month for the European Film Awards. “And maybe come back to India for a second visit,” she said.

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Printable version | Dec 7, 2019 6:39:53 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/russian-actor-viktoria-miroshnichenko-on-her-debut-with-beanpole-and-being-nominated-for-the-european-film-awards/article30064623.ece

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