Andrei Konchalovsky: ‘I’m very glad I failed in Hollywood’April 9, 2021
The Russian director is back in the spotlight with the Bafta-nominated Dear Comrades! Now 83, Konchalovsky raises a cocktail glass and celebrates his freedom to call the shots
It’s night-time in Moscow, and as Andrei Konchalovsky is settling on the sofa in his apartment, an unearthly howling fills the air. Could this be the wailing of some Russian banshee arisen to stalk the earth for all eternity? Actually, it’s the protests of Konchalovsky’s dog, a West Highland terrier, annoyed at not being allowed into the room. As it scurries into view, it turns out its name is Krug – “like the champagne”; evidence that Konchalovsky, at 83, has not lost his taste for the finer things in life.
These days Konchalovsky is looking back at a film-making career that is well into its third act, or possibly its fourth or even fifth. Improbably, after a decade or two of senior-auteur status, where the films he put his name to went little further than the comfort zone of film-festival presentations, he is suddenly looking at major awards action for his most recent film. Dear Comrades! is a biting, bitter study of a long-suppressed episode in Soviet history, the notorious massacre of strikers by the army and KGB in the Cossack city of Novocherkassk in 1962. Though it narrowly missed out on an Oscar nomination for best international film, Dear Comrades! is up for the equivalent award at the Baftas, having already picked up a special jury prize at Venice.