”This is a sacred place, like a church and suddenly we hear this crazy sound. This man takes tourists to this place. He is the sign of civilisation. A sign of a new time. The reality is that these guys are coming. Something precious will disappear…”
Lithuanian Audrius Stonys is a mild man but when he talks about the end of his film his voice is full of sadness and anger. As we experienced at the masterclass with him at the VIP room at the Sava Centre. A class that turned out to be dealing with what it means to be filming at the heights of Tian Shan mountain on the border between Kazakhstan and China, where his ”Woman and the Glacier” is shot and to where his main character, Lithuanian glaciologist Ausra Revutaite, came 30 years ago.
He made four expeditions to the mountains. “It took two
expeditions to find out that she did not want to speak or take part… First she was glad to be able to speak Lithuanian and she took us around… we had to obey the rules of the mountain and she knew the weather”. But for the two last expeditions they were there to film the mountains – for the dop, Audrius Kemezys, the challenge was to make the natural beauty into a cinemaric language. Sometimes we got one shot per day!
“The lack of oxygen affects you. I felt heavy. All the time you feel like you have a big stone on the chest… and when you come down you feel like flying. I think it is called natural doping among the runners who train in thin air”.
Audrius Stonys had 20 hours of material, he started editing after the third expedition and said in the masterclass that he was looking for the soul of the place, he succeeded when a structure was found, when the images started to talk to each other. The final stage of the editing was done in 10 days, the editor was young Estonian Mirjam Jegorov. The director and editor did the job in a monastery where a film loving monk had installed an editing room!
“You can not force the landscape to change if the footage says something else…if you go closer to the glacier you see the texture. You have to be humble, you listen to what the mountains say and you use your intuition”.
… and you make your own associations when you watch this elegy. When the stones and the water flow dramatically down the mountains, I think of Artavadz Pelichian, when the camera move into the caves and one “painting” after the other reaches your eyes, surrealist artist Yves Tanguy comes to my mind, so on so forth.