“People are not ashamed to be idiots now” – David Babayan about Kafka, a man who decided never to get out of bed again, and much more

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The primitive “question-answer” scheme during the interview with the director, actor, musician, writer David Babayan does not work. The conversation with Dodo (as it is called in the creative party) grows with a lot of all sorts of chapters, chapters, branches, bridges, creating space for all sorts of improvisations on the topic. However, there is an operational reason: the short animated film “Kafka’s Dream”, which has declared itself at several international festivals, including Sitges in Catalonia, Annecy in France, in Los Angeles… Over computer graphics and animation of “Kafka’s Dream” Vardazaryan-Studio worked, the main producer was Armine Harutyunyan, the executive producer was Aram Vardazaryan, the artist was Gagik Babayan, and the composer was Andranik Berberyan. And David published a book: a micro novel “Settlements. Aron Do’s Dictionary of Poetic Lies» – about the intolerance of being, and non-being too…

Can we say that “Kafka’s Dream” a tribute to your father’s work Rafael Babayan? (Together with Valentin Podpomogov and Rafael Babayan revived Armenian animation with Stepan Andranikyan, and since 1982 he has been the main artist of the Armenfilm film studio and made more than 40 films.)

Dad would be glad I turned to animation. We can talk about continuity. Especially since we made the film with my brother Gagik Babayan. At one time, Armenian animation was revived thanks to the Pope and his associates. As for «Kafka’s dream», the film received a special jury prize in Spain, was awarded special mention at two other festivals. And the fact that he was included in the official program of the festival in Annecy is quite prestigious. By the way, the Armenian cartoon was twice presented in Annecy by Rob Sahakyants.

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What attracted you to this genre?

In animation there is more space for imagination, you invest a lot in the process and get, in general, an acceptable result. In feature film, it’s a lot harder to do. No, animation is also terribly hard: 3D graphics are expensive, it’s hard to do, but in this genre you’re freer and you can turn off the internal censor. I wanted to show that not all is lost in our culture. And to save myself: for all my alienation, I still understand that if I turn on some nervous current in myself and begin to react to the reality around me, I will die. I once wrote “stale from loss”. We are callous and we understand why in recent years there have not been many in our environment: people are dying from indignation, from making sense of what they did. After all, it is impossible to withstand this blind cattle stupidity. With Kafka, I activated the mechanism of self-preservation.

And when will the premiere be in Yerevan?

I don’t know yet. Let’s finish with the festivals and show…

And, by the way, you did not ride them yourself?

No, for that I need to be at least vaccinated. Again, funding is needed. There is no one to cover the costs. We have the promotion of something (project, person) – the work of the authors, and only. You are your own head, your own bad master.

Well, at least some reaction was from local cult managers?

Well, yes … The film won the prize of the Armenian Film Directors Guild.

Cult management… And we don’t have it. We do not have an institute of production as such.

The films that are produced in our country are promoted in a maximum of two cinemas, are of no interest to anyone and almost always have no artistic value.

In general, in the beginning film projects seem promising. The authors usually start with the illusory: “a bomb is expected.” And then, of course, the desires do not agree with the result. That’s why I don’t make feature films. I do not want to compromise with myself. And we have very few people who understand that cinema is a very profitable business …

Did you see the ugly sculpture of a girl near the Ministry of Culture, who looks at the facade? For me, this is an indicator of everything that is happening in our culture. For example, all the sculptures that have been installed recently are horrible. The sculptures in the park in front of the mayor’s office are a collective farm somewhere near Dushanbe. Soviet thinking mixed with our complacent illiteracy, turned out to be a hell of a mixture of pathos and locality…

In Buddhism, there is such a thing as apramada: it is defined as a great caution about what to accept and what to avoid… This is a moral indicator of one’s actions. It is very important to understand where what you do and create will lead to: your film, your picture, your novel …

Maybe we’re too bony?

Rather, there are no restraining factors in the mind today. It seems to people that if everything is allowed to them, then nothing is forbidden. Meanwhile, the first sign of schizophrenia or other mental illness is the absence of shame. Now this has become the norm.

We plunged into a sea of ​​Baudrillard simulacra. People are not ashamed to be idiots now. The man stopped realizing what he was saying. It’s as one of the local ministers said that he lied about economic growth to lift the mood of the people. I’m thinking of releasing an encyclopedia of idiotic remarks made over the last three years. And it will definitely be possible to republish and update: the benefit of the material will always be plentiful …

Well, the picture will be complete if you multiply all this by the Dunning-Krueger effect: when low-skilled people come to wrong decisions and conclusions, but they are not able to realize these mistakes due to inflated ideas about their own abilities.

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Here in Soviet times for those who do not understand, was the Arts Council. Is censorship a bad option?

I once read a shorthand report on a private screening of Kozintsev’s film “Hamlet” – it was sanded at the Arts Council. But according to the paragraphs of criticism from Chukhray, Kulidzhanov and other pillars, according to what vision they had, it is clear that students of film faculties can be taught. I’m not talking about bureaucratic censorship, but about censorship of people who understood what they were talking about. As an antagonist of any censorship, today I come to the conclusion that it is necessary. At least where possible: radio, television…

It is clear that it is not necessary to censor Tick-talk, which proved – “the stupider, the better.” This format is designed for people with “smsny” thinking: pumped buttocks – life has succeeded, a you will write a book – you have not given up on anyone for a hundred years.

We have censorship of public and kitchen. The example of Morgenstern, whose concert was canceled. You are excited about Morgenstern’s arrival, saying that he will ruin the younger generation, but you have chosen such a government – which of these evils is worse? It is unlikely that the generation would be spoiled more than by idiotic slogans and actions.

The same commotion was around Von Trier’s “Nymphomaniac” show «

Well, that was funny. All the same, everyone who wanted to watched… The way people behave in the country… it would be better to watch “Nymphomaniac”. Maybe it would be short in the right direction.

You said, “You write a book You haven’t given up on anyone for a hundred years “… What about your recently published book” Settlements “and why such a name?

Because the hero, who is disappointed in life and does not want to get out of bed, is inhabited by some phenomena, events … Let’s say: “war has settled in me”… And the body becomes her home. In addition, there is something mystical in the very concept of “settlement”: an abandoned place in my understanding always has a special spirit of despair. In our parallel reality, the body is a rented room for thoughts.

The protagonist is endlessly confused. In fact, from the first sentence it is no more. Bukovsky, remember? You woke up, threw back the blanket and asked yourself: what’s next? “Settlements” is a micro-novel made of, at first glance, scattered pieces, but it has a whole picture, a common outline.

Most often it seems that the world is not tailored to our size. That’s what my hero thinks, that’s why he decided not to get up. He experiences all these stories, coming to the point that his thoughts also make no sense, and the bird, which, conditionally speaking, was the key to his presence in this world, will sooner or later fly out of it…

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Was the book published in Moscow?

Yes, in the publishing house “Eksmo” through the efforts of Rafael Minasbekyan (recently he runs the company “Mirfilm”) … I sent a novel to Rafael, he liked it, and he said: “We will release.”

Here we are talking to you about high matters. We understand everything. And try to convey your thoughts to people on the street who perceive reality through the prism of bad series and low-grade music…

I will never be able to. And no change of generations will change the situation. We say that we are the heirs of a great culture, but in fact we have inherited the madness and psychosis of the people – our terrible sides, which today have turned into complete stupidity and madness. History is a damaged memory. You patch up some shameful holes all the time to look good in the eyes of the rest of the world.

In our factory settings, a lot is turned off. For example, in our case, any emotion is expressed in two points, not ten. The richness of the personality is expressed in emotional nuances, and stupidity in two is black, and it is white (as the classic of the current circus said). We have no ethnic-mental nobility left. Instead, some hysterical plebeian chaos…

What keeps you here then?

Laziness… I’m terribly lazy. If it weren’t for laziness (although I’m constantly in some projects, movements), I would probably become the director of the house-museum of Cortasar .. Scratched a dozen books. Probably I’m still scared. At my age, it’s scary to start from scratch somewhere else, especially against the background of my introversion. Well, plus the thought that what you do, no one needs – neither here nor there…

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So why? Don’t you think that your Kafka would be more in demand in the West?

No… It’s like avant-garde jazz or serious literature that is interesting to a small circle. Welbeck and Pynchon are not all read either, only a certain audience. The same in other areas.

Well, you also integrated quite successfully into mass culture and pop?

Yes, maybe. But even in this pop culture, I’m trying to bring something from that other, intellectual layer. The most pop video clips can be made differently. I’m always told, it can’t be, it doesn’t happen. But this is the meaning of creativity. A man hanging on a rope upside down is drawing something on the field and it does not stand out from the general context.

You have works on the subject of Genocide. Did you frame yourself there?

There are many things in Ապրեպու ապրիլ. A smoking house on the hand of an elderly woman, for example. Or brickwork on an old man’s cheek. Even the most beaten topic can be presented in such a way that it is then shot as a “Fight Club”. It seems to everyone that a good picture, cool camera and color correction and there are good products…

In general, for me the most important factor is what kind of music a person listens to. How he or she organizes his or her wedding. I’m serious. There are certain markers of adequacy or inadequacy of people. It’s like women who have been married for twenty years, but still post their wedding photos online. By the way, all this psychedelic trash strongly echoes the vibrations of the leadership of our country. I hope you understand what I’m talking about…

The collective unconscious?

Rather, as I once wrote: collective cries are an illusion of fearlessness…

“Kafka’s Dream” is over… What’s next?

We started making a short film – it will be called “Berenice”. Why – I do not know. Probably a tribute to the names of Edgar Allan Poe’s heroines. During the last filming, our second director Lilith Frangulyan took the drum and started beating it. And we realized that a whole movie could come out of that image. We shot half of it, now we are looking for a very small amount to finish this project.

As O. Bender said: how many rubles will save the father of Russian democracy?

Seven million drams and two sandwiches. So now we are in active search. We plan to contact Tinder and the Koala Aid Fund. A girl with a drum can become a symbol of an alarm clock for sleeping. There is even an idea that at the very end of the film, as a kind of manifesto, she would go out with her drum to the UN rostrum and start beating.

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Well, you say that lazy…

What a lazy…

Interviewed by Anna Satyan

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