LIFE. THE LAST QUESTION

MANLYVYI, SOLODKYI, BEZ MEZH ABO PISNI I TANTSI PRO SMERT

By Tania KHODAKIVSKA

PRONTO FILM - as PROD

Documentary - Completed 2017

Thinking, speaking, eating, smiling and dancing about life, death, and our fear of death. Just as one can have dinner without realizing that he is eating, one can live without noticing that he is living - but can we respect life more if we are cognizant that we will die?

    • Year of production
    • 2017
    • Genres
    • Documentary, First film, Art - Culture
    • Countries
    • UKRAINE
    • Languages
    • ITALIAN, GEORGIAN, ENGLISH, UKRANIAN, RUSSIAN
    • Budget
    • 0.3 - 0.6 M$
    • Duration
    • 95 mn
    • Director(s)
    • Tania KHODAKIVSKA
    • Writer(s)
    • Diana FRANKOVIC, Tania KHODAKIVSKA
    • Producer(s)
    • Igor SAVYCHENKO, Maksym ASADCHYI
    • Synopsis
    • A girl stands on the street. She sings a joyful song in Swedish: “I have a neighbour, he lives nearby, he will die; I have a brother, he lives in a neighboring town, he will also die; I have a father and he’ll die as well; I have a mother, she will die; and I will also die…” An office building with floor to ceiling windows is located behind her, a big dog sits behind the glass and observes the girl; a young man washes the window from outside and casts glances at the girl. Pedestrians pass by: a woman screams at somebody on the phone, an old man competes with the street – walking is a challenge for him, a fellow overtakes him – he is in a big hurry; there walks a couple in love, a mother with a child, who despite falling does not cry; a worker with a mirror in his hands that reflects another side of the street with an old man who stopped to rest… Life. Nobody takes notice of the girl. Only one man, having beheld her, stops, digs into his wallet. Having not found his money, embarrassed, he moves on. The girl, singing, goes somewhere, as the window washer steps into her place and continues singing the same song.
      After the figurative introduction we introduce the protagonists. We start to build a mosaic from words and pauses, images and thoughts about the deaths of geniuses who are still alive and ordinary people form all over the world.
      Anzor Erkomaishvili from Georgia is the first one. He is 70 years old and he has devoted his life to Georgian polyphonic singing. In addition, he is choirmaster of Rustavi, the oldest Georgian polyphonic ensemble. The eldest choir member is 90. Anzor believes that life is born through sound. He is riding in a bus with his son. The son is asking his father about senility and death: “Are you scared?” Looking at his son, Anzor answers: “Do you remember when your mother died?” After a while, other passengers join the conversation. An argument arises and even a nanny goat, which is being taken to a wedding as a gift, tries to take part. Anzor laughs. He tells about his dream. There is silence in the bus. Suddenly someone starts singing an old Georgian song amid of this silence. The others gradually join in and soon we see the whole bus singing. The mountains echo the song and old Anzor Erkomaishvili cries, trying to hide his tears from his son and from the camera.
      A female character is Guzul Glafia. In a Carpathian mountain village of 30 huts, she spins wool thread in a room decorated with teacups, saucers, and plates she’s collected throughout her life. She says she turned 80 on the 33rd of December. It has been 20 years since she buried her husband. She has lived alone since that time. Two of her daughters live nearby. One of her daughters’ husbands went off to Russia in search of a living and met another woman there, so the daughter stays alone with her children. She weaves carpets, as her mother taught her. The second daughter knits warm socks for her husband from the wool spun by her mother. Her husband is a lumberjack working in Russia. Glafia says: “I tell you what: I don’t know when I will die, whether it is tonight or tomorrow morning - and yet I can’t be idle, so I spin, if God gives me days.” We will be watching these days together with Glafia, following their flow, observing how slowly minutes crawl. We will see that tomorrow is a mere copy of yesterday, and one wishes the end of the day would came sooner, and that only death has abstained from coming.
      The third character is Nikola Pfeffer from Germany. After ten years of experience as a midwife helping children come into this world, this extraordinary woman changed her profession to help people who are dying. In the last ten years, 247 people have died before her eyes. For a long time, Nikola worked with those suffering the final stages of cancer. Nikola says: “I’m lucky; I’m not afraid of death. Many people I’ve attended in their last minutes of life, at the moment of dying, became important and irreplaceable teachers for me. This not only liberates you, but also gives you power and joy.”
      Secondary line involves thoughts on fear and death by those who have already left their mark on history. Maybe this is the last opportunity to discuss the topic with them. Transport as shooting location is going to unite this line. It may be a train or a cab, a plane or a tram. The metaphor of such scene of action is simple and speaks for itself. During the conversation, we do not know where the character is heading. Time becomes a participant in the conversation. Thus, we start with the past, move through the present, then head into the future. People who ride the same transport can participate in the conversation, reacting to everything occuring around them.
      Among those whom we meet on their way are film director Krzysztof Zanussi who called his book of memoirs “It's Time to Die"; the English psychologist Dorothy Row (who made a list of the top 100 geniuses on the planet due to her lifelong research on the fear of old age and death); the Russian cardiologist Yevgeniy Chazov, who has treated 19 leaders from 15 countries and who still considers himself a romantic, for he treats hearts; IKEA founder Ingvar Kamprad, billionaire, known for recycling tea bags and pocketing the salt packets from restaurants, who is becoming more willing to share with the world in the last years; and many others.–
      The ending is not a moral, not a conclusion out of the aforesaid, and not an answer. The performance is born, life triumphs. Different faces look at us from the hall: young and mature, disturbed, deep in contemplation. We recognize ourselves in them as well as everything on the stage. Without a doubt, every minute, every word, every action or its absence becomes significant, for there would not be life without death.
    • Partners & financing
    • €276,311 - Ukrainian State Film Agency
      €69,078 - Lungta Film SRL (Italy)
      €364,405 remaining to be funded
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