Original title: Meniny
Copyright: Ihor Podolchak MF Films, 2008
Format: full-length feature
Length: 99 min.
Original language: Ukrainian
English subtitles: yes
Director and sript writer Ihor Podolchak
Producer Ihor Podolchak and Ihor Diurych
Director of photography Serhiy Mykhalchuk
Musical part codirected by Dean Carr
Music by Oleksander Shchetynetsky
Mykola Veresen as father
Liubov Tymoshevska as mother
Hanna Yarovenko as daughter
Dmytro Cherniavsky as son
Illona Arsentieva as little daughter
Stas Arsentiev as little son
Viktoria Ulianchenko as first young mother
Valeria Ulianchenko as second young mother
(Official synopsis of the film) Las Meninas is a film about what the routine of everyday life can do to the human mind and psyche. It reflects on the importance of the choices we make and how limited these choices are in the first place. The plot evolves around a family of four. They live in the suburbs in a strange villa that appears, through a complex game of mirrors, to be more like a piece of installation art than a real house. The main character who hardly ever appears on screen, is the son, a man in his thirties. Suffering from asthma and eczema since childhood he uses his condition to manipulate his parents and sister. Thus the life of a terrorized family turns into a ritual of attempting to satisfy his whims, while everybody is always on the lookout for yet another of his ‘health crises’. Las Meninas resembles a puzzle whose pieces have been scattered. It is up to the viewer to assemble them in order to form one’s own picture – something that makes the film personal and unique.
As a professional artist, I made this film as a painter, only with other tools (with other limitations) other possibilities, other degrees of the freedom of expression. Once you have a situation and time frame, it is up to you to explore and represent the most important angles of human life – as they seemed to you at that very moment. The starting point of the film was a story told by a psychiatrist friend of mine about a family that he was treating. Then came the experience of filling in the plot with my own impressions, memories, fantasies, and objects of everyday life, and their ‘repackaging’ into different mental ‘constructions’. In short the reassembling of the universe after the ‘big bang’ into a single work of art made me for the whole two years a happy person.