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In 1987, Yuri Mamin started shooting of his famous film “The Fountain” based on the screenplay by Vladimir Vardunas. Together they built a multi-apartment house for the film, which served as a model of Russian society during the era of “perestroika”. At the same time, the film authentically reproduces, in great detail, the life and environment of Russians with all its absurdities and horrors, presented in the genre of satirical comedy.

The film “The Fountain” was a distinctive copy of Russian society from the late 80s. This explains why, in 1989, the U.S. Senate specifically requested a showing of the film in order to understand modern Russian society.

In 1988 Yuri Mamin’s film “The Fountain” won at the First International Film Festival in Odessa and by unanimous jury decision received the Gran-Prix and the famous statue of “The Golden Duke”. The jury consisted of satirist Mikhail Zhvanetsky, journalist Vitaly Korotich, composer Nikita Bogoslovsky, artist Ilya Glazunov, and was led by Eldar Ryazanov.

In 1989, Mamin received “Chaplin's Golden Cane” from the hands of Chaplin’s widow, Oona Chaplin, at a festival in the Swiss town of Vevey in honor of the 100th  anniversary of the birth of the great master.
Additionally, the film “The Fountain” has won about 20 major prizes at various international film festivals, including a second Chaplin statuette in the town of Gabrovo (Bulgaria).

The actors who created the movie “The Fountain” were the authentic and brilliant ensemble of Viktor Mikhailov, Sergey Dreiden (Dontsov), Lyudmila Samokhvalova, Zhanna Kerimtaeva and Nina Usatova  who received the “Constellation” prize at the eponymous Russian film-festival in 1989.

Interesting facts

Roza Sirota, the comrade-in arms of the celebrated theater director Georgy Tovstonogov said, after watching the film “The Fountain” that such authenticity and ease of existence of actors is rarely achieved in celebrated theater. She was particularly shaken by a monologue performed by the character of a destitute actress, played by Lyudmila Samokhvalova. The actress Samokhvalova, who is the wife of Yuri Mamin, with the permission of the director and screen-writer, inserted phrases that reflect her personal biography into the heroine’s monologue. Undoubtedly, as a result of this, the   monologue became more poignant.

The Kyrgyz actor Assankul Kuttubaev was a very stern man and the “star” of the Kyrgyz national theater.
The Prologue was filmed in the Kara-Kum desert. The heat was incredible, and the old Assankul demanded to be released from shooting.  A dialogue ensued between the actor and director Yuri Mamin:

“The soles of my shoes are melting!,” said the actor. “Not one experienced Kazakh filmmaker would shoot in such heat!”

Mamin responded, “Firstly, I am not a Kazakh director. Secondly, I am inexperienced; this is my first full-length film. Thirdly, look at the crew: all of them are from Leningrad, from the north, and they are tolerating the heat and work. And you are a local, this heat is nothing new for you. Deal with it.”

“I will not!”, said Kuttubaev angrily.

“You will.”, Mamin retorted.  “Because without a bus you cannot leave the shoot.”
With those words they parted. Mamin kept on filming, trying to finish all the daytime shooting, as the next day the group was scheduled to fly to Leningrad. Then time came to shoot the night scenes.

Kuttubaev was called to the set and did not come. Mamin went to call on the artist himself, and he was sitting beside his yurt with an unapproachable look and did not want to talk to him. The group watched the situation out of curiosity. What was to be done? And then Mamin, gathered all of his internal pride, got on his knees, and crawled on all fours to the old actor and bent to the ground, kissing the toe of his boot. Kuttubaev was dumbfounded. The film’s main boss was kissing his feet, in front of everyone’s eyes! The pride of the Eastern artist was satisfied. After this gesture, he could not refuse. Without saying a word, Assankul got up and went to the camera.

“Prepare for shooting!”, commanded Mamin, and the Exodus scene, which became the backdrop for the opening credits, was filmed.

Subsequently, the director recalled that such behavior, characteristic of the medieval East, came involuntarily. It was just that the situation left him without any choice: it was impossible to move on without this episode. It was necessary for the film.

“At that time, I got on my knees not for Assankul, but for the film. In the face of a film I’m always in this position. This is my Master. The hint came to me, most likely, from my ancestors - the Tatars. You see, my grandfather, who was purged by the authorities and died before my birth, was a Tartar, Dmitry Dmitrievich Mamin.   It is all thanks to him!”

© Katerina Ksenyeva 2011