Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Meet Diana Galimzyanova, Filmmaker

Diana Galimzyanova is a writer and director based in Moscow, Russia. Her four award-winning short films were accepted to more than thirty five festivals in thirteen countries. She is just launching a crowdfunding campaign for her first feature-length film, which will be the first ever female-directed Russian film noir with reverse chronology. Learn more by visiting

1. How did you become interested in filmmaking?

I've always been interested in writing. Ever since I was in first grade, I would write something, a short story, a play, or even a treatment to a novel. I also tend to think in pictures at least half of the time, but I don't have a real talent for literature; my stories are too schematic. Basically, I'm just writing treatments with tons of details and plot points, and that's why I love writing screenplays because they are like schemes. And I've been a huge movie buff from a young age. So eventually I realized that I want to be a filmmaker to tell the stories I see the way I see them.

2. Have you always liked film noir, and do you have any favorite noir classics?

I've been a fan of film noir for the last ten years or so; it's such an amazing style. My favorite film noir is Sweet Smell of Success, a pure masterpiece of art. I'd say it's one of my favorite movies of all time, not just favorite film noir. I'm also a huge Hitchcock fan, and Shadow of a Doubt is both my favorite Hitchcock film and the second favorite film noir.

3. What's your process like as a writer, and how was it different writing a feature-length film rather than a short?

I usually see the crucial scenes in my mind's eye in all the details then I need to put them into words. Like with The Lightest Darkness, I saw the beginning and the end in pictures, and then I filled the middle with words. I think it was essentially the same with all of my scripts; sometimes I also saw a couple of scenes in between. With The Lightest Darkness, I did a detailed outline for the first time; it was like an investigation and research. I really enjoyed the process, so also I outlined the short script I wrote after The Lightest Darkness. I think I'm going to outline everything from now on.

4. Would you tell us more about your debut feature film?

It's a twisted story about a neurotic private eye who struggles to finish the case. When he takes a train voyage, his own dark secrets begin to reveal themselves. I'm striving to make a real film noir, with all the themes and tropes, not just the chiaroscuro lighting and blinds. So like the best film noir, it's a bit of a thriller a bit of a mystery and a bit of a drama. I want it to feel like it was made in the 40s. Although the film is not set in the 40s, all the characters are dressed in the 40s style and use props from 40s. But they also Skype with each other. I see it as an alternate universe where things are a bit different, like in that show Gintama where aliens invaded 19th century Japan and brought the technologies with them, but there are also signs of 19th-century Japan in that world, like samurais with swords, etc.

5. What is your advice for other women who want to make films with protagonists that more closely represent their lives than the characterizations we see in the mainstream media?

You should fight for your work, even if its a fight with yourself, that voice the tells you maybe I should write my female protagonist as a more convenient character like we usually see in media because the viewer wouldn't get her otherwise. So you start putting on the metaphorical makeup to cover all the imperfections of your female character to make her look more socially acceptable and likable. But this attitude is damaging. Women are all different and diverse, and most of them are not represented in the mainstream media. Luckily this trend has started to change. Now we see more female protagonists that are three dimensional strong vulnerable though flawed empowered. I hope it's just a beginning of the new way.

Thanks, Diana!

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