VENICE (Reuters) - Andrei Konchalovsky does not expect “Rai” to change the course of the world, but he hopes the Holocaust drama about evil in the name of good will inspire some compassion, the veteran Russian director told Reuters at the Venice film festival on Friday.
“Rai” (Paradise), a black-and-white World War II drama about three individuals whose lives cross paths and are forced to make life-altering choices, is one of 20 films competing for the coveted Golden Lion that will awarded on Saturday.
“I don’t see myself as a prophet or someone who can deliver something that will change the course of the world – that’s ridiculous ... I want the audience to come out and to shut-up for 10 minutes,” the 79-year-old Konchalovsky told Reuters in an interview.
The movie tells the story of Olga, played by Julia Vysotskaya, a Russian noblewoman and part of the French resistance, who gets arrested by the Nazis for hiding two Jewish children. When she is jailed, she meets French collaborator Jules, who offers to ease her punishment in exchange for sex.
Olga eventually ends up in a concentration camp, where she meets a former flame, Helmut, now a high-ranking SS officer.
Vysotskaya, who had to shave off her hair for the role, said all the actors enjoyed being on set, despite the film’s painful theme. She also said that she was surprised about her own reaction when watching the movie for the first time during its premiere in Venice on Thursday.
“I thought it’s incredible how I feel that the evil is so attractive,” she said. “At least you can choose and then when you choose, you’re responsible.”
Reporting by Sarah Mills; writing by Agnieszka Flak; editing by Larry King