San Sebastian: Natalia Meschaninova on ‘Core of the World,’ Inhibited Masculinity

Variety | 9/23/2018 | John Hopewell
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In one scene in Natalia Meschaninova’s “Core of the World,” animal rights activists free some caged foxes from a hunting dog training farm in the forests of Russia. A few days later, two of the foxes reappear at the farm and climb back into their cages: They cannot fend for themselves in the wild.

The narrative vignettes stands metaphor for Egor, the film’s protagonist, a 20something vet who lives at the farmsted’s outhouse and is in desperate need of a controlled environment with no complications after a past history of violent confrontation with his mother, whose funeral he refuses to attend.

Belta - Dogs - Dogs - Child - Ivan

When Belta, one of the dogs, is mauled by other dogs, he tends for her like his child. He’s hugely patient with Ivan, the attention-seeking young grandson of the farm owner. But it seems only a question of time and circumstance for his tight-wound violence to explode again. He heals a dog, seems hard put to heal himself, or find any kind of forgiveness or redemption.

Variety talked to Meschaninova before the European premiere of her second feature, which screens in San Sebastian’s New Directors competition:

Challenges - Characters - Setting - Plot - Circumstances

Actually, one of my favorite challenges is to place my characters in an ambiguous setting that bolsters the plot as much as their biographical circumstances. The training facility (which is the term I prefer) is a place with an innate conflict concerning the relationship with animals and hunting. A conflict of beliefs, I would say. The more complex and provocative is the setting, the more it excites me, the more challenging it becomes to use this environment for placing real people I know some fundamental things about.

The conflict between the animal rights activists and the hunters arose in Russia when our filming period was already over, and I think it means we have actually hit the right...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Variety
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