Rodion Nahapetov

Rodion Nahapetov and other inhabitants of the world

The American thriller STIR made by Rodion Nakhapetov, is in the noncompetition program of XX MIFF. Nakhapetov, director, actor starred in many Soviet films of 70s, now lives in America. He is also the chairman of the Friendship Charity Foundation.

Rodion Nahapetov- How do you feel living in America?

- Differently. Sometimes I feel poor, sometimes cheerful and sometimes happy. Sometimes I'm overcome with sadness and reminiscences.

- What is that connected with?

- With something 1 may see, or some familiar odour which reminds me of childhood, or I may meet someone who looks like somebody I used to know. But most of the time I'm very busy, and when a man is busy he has little time for lyrical digressions and sentimental reminiscences.

- Is your work connected with the cinema?

- Before Stir, all my projects were connected with Russia one way or another, it was either Americans in Russia or Russians in the States. This time, my picture is not connected with Russia in any way. That's something new for me and interesting because it is a thriller, something that I had never worked on before.

- Please, tell me about your Fund.

- It renders assistance to children with congenital heart disease, especially those in need of surgery that cannot be performed in Russia not because the surgeons are not up to the mark there, but because there is a shortage of equipment and medicines, and lack of money. In critical cases we bring the children here and have them operated on in the best American clinics. The physicians perform these operation free of charge. The fund pays the hospital in cases when children have to be kept in intensive care for a long time. I myself have suffered from heart disease so I know what it's like. The idea of the fund did not come suddenly, I had been prepared for it for quite some time.

- Does the Fund have a branch office in Moscow?

- Yes, we have a representation in Moscow. There are very many children in need of assistance. More than 50,000 children are born with heart disease every year. We are greately in need of financial support. Both Russians and Americans are trying to help, but there are several formal obstacles, one of them being the fact that we are not registered. We are currently registering the Fund in Russia and hope that will stimulate money from Russia. As you know, the common attitude towards funds of different kinds is rather cool, because some of them engage in business far removed from charity under cover of highminded ideas and intentions. Certainly, there are such funds, but I am glad to say that the attitude towards our fund is quite different. We get good coverage and American television speaks about us. People see that we often help children from the poorest families who cannot even come to Moscow, let alone America.

- The Fund is actually a Russian fund but you prefer to live in the States?

- I'm living here because this is the heart of filmmaking. My family is here. The most important thing is the Fund which I could never have founded in Russia. Here there are the best clinics, the best physicians and financial support. My contacts with Russia are very close, my wife Natasha and I go there very often, mostly meet people who cry and not laugh. That is why when they tell me about the restaurant merry-go-round in Moscow, I don't know anything about it, we have no time to spare for such pastime.

- What are the Fund's plans for the near future?

- We have come to an agreement with Los Angeles University to help a six-month-old boy who has been brought from StPetersburg. He is an especially difficult case and even in America there are only two or three surgeons capable of dealing with such a case. We are also expecting a little girl whom we are going to send to a hospital in New Mexico with which we have established very good relations. But alUhat is just a drop in the ocean. We cannot help everybody, that is'why we have decided to bring specialists and the necessary equipment to Moscow and provide on-the-spot treatment. In Moscow we want to set up a special service that will be able to diagnose heart trouble in unborn babies and take measures to help the child.

- Do you get in touch with and see filmmakers when you come to Moscow?

- Of course, we do. I know that the situation in the film industry is very bad at the moment. But I know that nothing has died or disappeared. There are many talented people and there should be ways of helping Russian cinema overcome the crisis it is in today.

- I know that you have become a frequent churchgoer...

- Everyone who believes in God should go to church. I am a Russian Orthodox, my grandmother had me baptized in early childhood and my Christian name is George. I used to go to church before, mainly on religious holidays such as Easter and the Epiphany, but I cannot say I did that regularly or with a clear understanding. Only here, when I had to review and revaluate a lot of things in my life that I began to feel the need of going to church. The need for religion comes with age, suffering, losses and lessons that you are taught by life. The problems keeping piling up. And then you start thinking: my God, I've lost this. I didn't do what I had to do and done a lot of bad, unkind things. The Church is a moral criterion.

- Your life is quite stable and prosperous. What about your inner life, is it just as stable and unperturbed?

- I'm glad you asked me that question. Even when times were very bad, many people had the impression that I ivas standing firmly on my feet. I think I was inclined to camouflage from childhood. I saw how my mother suffered, and I saw how people can hurt you bare your soul to them. I understood it was dangerous to show people Artiat is going on inside of you. Of course, all is not as well as it seems to be. I have growing daughters and I am very worried about their welfare and a lot of other things. But if you try to do good to people really in need, you will see the response in their hearts and that will give you such energy that it will help you overcome your own hardships.

Interviewer. Nataiya GALADZHEVA