Evdokiia Moskvina – ECPMF Journalist-in-Residence
“Both journalists and filmmakers are in danger because of their expressions about reality”

ECPMF

15 August 2022

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Evdokia Moskvina is an award-winning documentary maker and journalist who focuses on social issues and international crises. As a film director, Evdokia produced numerous documentaries and three fiction films. One of her films was featured in the Cannes Film Festival 2013, and two of them in the Moscow International Film festival 2012 and 2013. Her films touch on the sensitive subject of children in zones of world conflict.

To give our readers some background information about your work, could you please introduce some of your documentaries to us? 

Yes, I could talk about two documentaries: Occupation 1968 (2018) and Forbidden Children (2019). Forbidden Children documented the lives of five Russian girls who were kept in the Al-Khol camp of ISIS. There are a lot of women, children, and men captured there. They are like prison camps. They are not refugee camps. The men are separated from the women and children. In this open-air camp, they keep about 75,000 people. There is not enough food provided. My protagonists from Forbidden Children had three months where they only ate grass on the street. There is real hunger there. 

 

The second film, Occupation 68, I did in 2017. It was released in 2018 as a Slovak-Czech co-production. It tells the story of some old Russian generals I found living in Odessa in Ukraine. I proposed that they travel the same route as they did 50 years ago — to Kyiv, Minsk, Moscow, and Prague and to see how the road changed — like a road trip and also a trip through time.

 

Your previous achievements show that you have worked in many different roles, including  TV news correspondent, journalist, actress, and award-winning film producer. How would you define yourself now? 

I’m now at the point where my country started a war against another very beautiful country without any reason, and I define myself as a person — a media person — who has a voice, and who would use all of my experiences and all of my roles in order to talk openly about what’s going on in Ukraine. I want to use my previous achievements to express openly to Russians, because they live in total information isolation. I also want to spread the word that not all Russians support the war. 

 

Would you like to share with us the most memorable thing that happened while you were directing the films?

In the middle of filming Forbidden Children, we were promised that these five girls would be handed over to their families. We faced a lot of troubles leaving Russia and going to Syria. Eventually, we passed all of the obstacles. However, when we arrived we were informed that everything was cancelled, so we came for nothing. For me, it was like I must make a decision or we will leave without saving the children. I think it was a life-changing decision because I remember this night clearly. I was alone, thinking, and I decided that I will stay until the end no matter how long it takes, but I will not go back to Russia without the girls. It was the right decision because the Russian authorities continued to negotiate and finally liberated the five girls. 

 

As a journalist and documentary filmmaker, how would you see the difference between these two roles? Do they align with each other? 

I consider myself more of a filmmaker than a journalist. I think we are alike, one subject could be covered by journalism and also by film. Film production and journalism are very close colleagues, but are not exactly the same field. Nowadays, both journalists and filmmakers are in danger because of their expressions about reality, because of their points of view, and also because of their previous works.

 

Part of the funding for Forbidden Children came from the Russian government, have they ever tried to interfere with the filming content? 

That’s an interesting question. There is no way for them to influence what I’m doing if I already received the money. But they will never give you money again if the film is not made according to their logic. In my case, Forbidden Children was my first and also the last supported project by the Russian government. This is how things work.

 

As a Russian filmmaker, do you find it more difficult to make films now – for example while gaining access to sources or interviewees – because of negative connotations associated with Russia?

Yes, of course, it changed a lot. Two months after the war started, I couldn’t work. I was just lying down and thinking that I don’t have a right to work as a film director. I have felt so much guilt about what my country started. So I had a strong feeling that no one would work with me, but I realised that very few of my colleagues accused me and most of them supported me. Even colleagues with whom I did not talk for years connected with me in order to provide support and help. Personally, I’ve never believed in the revival of the Soviet Union because for me it was passed. Now, I realise that I was quite naïve because the truth is Russia did not fill up this empire’s imperialistic tastes and interests. It is my personal crisis because the Soviet Union is the last thing that I wish for my children and for me for the future. 

 

If you now had a chance to collaborate with one director, whom would you like to collaborate with? 

There is one German film director I love very much, Werner Herzog. He was making amazing fiction films. When I started filmmaking, we studied a lot about his way of filming, and then he started to make amazing documentaries as well.

 

Can you tell us more about your next project? 

Yes. I’m happy to work with Radio Free Europe as a filmmaker. Now we’re making a documentary about life on the border between Georgia and Russia. There is one small piece of independent land, the so-called South Ossetia Republic. Until 2008 it was Georgian territory. After the war in 2008, Russia annexed this piece for Georgia and proclaimed an independent republic there. So I was filming from the two sides to observe how people live on both sides. One day a border fence just appeared in the middle of the villages. The land that they considered theirs became foreign forever, and they needed visas to go to the other side. I think it’s also a very relevant subject because it’s exactly the same as what will happen in eastern Ukrainian territories now, because Russia has taken them. It would be a border inside Ukraine.

Interview conducted by Yu-Ching Chen, Press and Communications Intern at ECPMF. Lightly edited for clarity and brevity.

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