NRFF Interviews Anna Smirnova

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NRFF London Official Selection: The Pigeon (RU)


Anna Smirnova

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Director / Writer / Producer

30 min  Drama / Comedy / Fantasy

Based on a story by Patrick Suskind “The Pigeon”is about the fictional character Jonathan Noel, a solitary Parisien bank security guard who undergoes an existential  crisis when a pigeon roosts in front of his one-room apartment’s door, prohibiting him entrance to his private sanctuary. (See blog post image)

New Renaissance London Nominations: Best Narrative International Short / Best Director of an International Film or Documentary / Best Actor in an International Short (Aleksander Sirin)


Congratulations on being part of the Official Selection of the New Renaissance Film Festival. How does it feel to be nominated in three categories?

Thank you! It was surprising for me to hear about it. I was absolutely delighted! It is a great honor for me to participate in the New Renaissance Film Festival, which is held in London, the city I love with all my heart.


This is your graduation film after your film studies in Moscow, Russia. Why did you choose “The Pigeon”?

“The Pigeon” is one of my favourite stories written by Patrick Suskind.  I dreamt to shoot a story without any dialogues, where everything was clear with no help of words. Of course, we had to use the voiceover to explain some of the events which happened in the life of the main character, but the most important scenes in the movie are visual.


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What is the essence of the story?

The main theme of the film– the loneliness among people. Loneliness for the main character, Jonathan, is a comfortable environment. He is not afraid, but deliberately avoids contact with the new. His measured and monotonous existence in the confined space of his studio apartment – his shell – is destroyed by the appearance of a pigeon, which is a catalyst for him. This event breaks his “measured way of life,” and brings the main character to despair, forcing him to look differently at his own life.

The beginning and the end of the film we made in animation for some reason. In the finale, Jonathan returns to his childhood, regaining emotional balance.


How did you make and finance this beautiful film?

We had a great crew of talented enthusiasts, who liked the script and believed in a good result. One of the most difficult tasks in the implementation of the idea was the work on the reconstruction of the rooms where the characters live in. All interior scenes, except the scene with the Concierge, have been recreated from scratch in the small hall of the premise. By the drawings we built double-sided walls, which gave the ability to change the space of the room, its size and color, depending on the shooting scene. Props in most cases were made by hand.

A source of inspiration in the recreation room 24, in which the main character lives, was the painting by Vincent van Gogh “Vinsent’s Bedroom in Arles”. Its atmosphere is wonderfully similar to the ideas of comfort and security of the main character. Closed shutters, in the words of van Gogh, created for him a sense of security. In the final scene the main character opens the shutters for the first time in 30 years, which symbolizes inner freedom.


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You wrote, directed, produced and starred in your film. How difficult was it to juggle these roles? Is there a role you enjoy the most?

Federico Fellini said once: “A film director is like a Columbus on a ship. He wants to discover America, and the team wants to go home”. In that sense, it is very important not to forget that people who you work with can be tired while you’re working out your brave ideas all day and night.  It is quite difficult to juggle all these roles but it’s incredible experience that you get for your future films. Sometimes you don’t have much time to achieve the perfect image or you have to abandon the idea due to the lack of technical means or money. But after all the struggle, you realize that you did your best and at least you tried.


How has the film been received so far?

We finished “The Pigeon” recently and The New Renaissance Film Festival is our lucky start.


We are very honoured to be able to premier your wonderful film. Are you hopeful about the future for women in film?

I am really hopeful about the future for good inspiring films, no matter who the director is –male or female.


What are your future plans in film?

At the moment I’m searching for a good story for the film. When I find it, I will immediately start to make it real.


The New Renaissance Film Festival takes place on August 20, 2016, at the Courthouse Hotel, London W1. Click here for details on the Programme & Festival Passes.

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