Documentary Filmmaking as a Way to Preserve Memory
I saw my friend's documentary How to Save a Dead Friend a few months ago in New York and thought it was beautiful. One of the best I've seen. And I watch a lot of docs
Aside from conveying the gloomy feel of the Moscow outskirts, How to Save a Dead Friend is powerfully romantic.
Described by critics as “a message from a silenced generation”, a coming-of-age story and a depiction of “Putin’s grim Russia,” for the director, Marusya Syroechkovskaya, the film is above all about love — and the grief that erupts like a volcano once a loved one is lost forever. Just today we published a story about her on the website.
I started my media, Vivid Minds, to talk with resilient people who inspire me. I do some interviews on my own, and there are also journalists who share the vision and are willing to help. All these stories show the strength of our characters as they have navigated through the complexities of life while staying sane and mindful. There is always something to learn from them.
With today’s story, I wanted to start a series of interviews with people who keep saving their loved ones and the most precious memories through various forms and outlets (think chatbot Replika, Orhan Pamuk’s The Museum of Innocence or this film).
Our freelance Rome-based journalist Alexandra Tyan captured Marusya’s journey of creating a touching 103-minute film out of 12 years of her life and 150 hours of footage.
Back in the 2000s, overtaken with thoughts of self-destruction, suicide and drug addiction, Marusya and her then-husband Kimi started documenting their lives on a small digital camera, toying with the idea of making a film about their lives. “I was depressed and didn’t know how to communicate it, or how to ask for help. I was just trying to make sense of the world with my camera,” Marusya told VM in an interview.
On the night of 4 November 2016, after a long battle with addiction and depression, Kimi passed away. Two years after watching Kimi being buried on a cold Moscow day, Marusya decided to turn 12 years of video archives they’d made together into a film. “It was my attempt to save his memory,” she explains. “I wanted to do something to kind of keep him in this space.”
After getting a team of professionals from Sweden, Norway, France and Germany on board, Marusya started sifting through the archives. It took her two weeks and a lot of courage to watch about 150 hours of footage. “It was difficult to see him there,” she recalls. “When we started to work on the film, it was very emotional to look through all the footage because my only thought was: Kimi is gone.”.
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Hi Anastasia. This seems like my kind of documentary: a personal journey in which time transmutes memory. Thanks for writing about this. This one goes straight to my Letterboxd watchlist.