• Konstantin ALEXANDROV: "The League of Warriors will be the first feature film about Combat SAMBO"

Konstantin ALEXANDROV: "The League of Warriors will be the first feature film about Combat SAMBO"

23 April 2021 Aleksandr Solomahin
Konstantin ALEXANDROV: "The League of Warriors will be the first feature film about Combat SAMBO"

If you closely follow the news of SAMBO on the Internet, you have probably already seen videos about Combat SAMBO with the participation of the Russian world champion Fedor Durymanov. These videos appeared out of nowhere and grabbed everyone's attention. Fedor said that the videos are part of the preparation for the filming of a large feature film with the tentative title "League of Warriors", and sent them to the director of the project for details. Konstantin Aleksandrov, in an interview with the FIAS website, shared the details of the film's creation – from idea to future implementation.

Konstantin, in short, what will the film be about?

This is the story of growing up from boy to man, which is based on real events from the life of the World Champion in Combat SAMBO Fedor Durymanov. I met Fedor when he came to me for the casting of one of my projects. It was 5 years ago. Since I was in search of actors, and Fedor was primarily an athlete, I invited him to study at a film school in St. Petersburg, where I taught a course in acting. There he studied together with professional actors and directors, for whom these classes were a kind of refresher courses. Thus, Fedor went through a fairly serious training.


In the process of training, we began to get to know each other better, I began to ask what was going on in his life. Fedor told one story, the second one, the third... the tenth, the twentieth... And one fine moment I suddenly realized that these stories could make an interesting film. I got the idea to make a movie based on Fedor's life. In fact, this is a kind of composite character, but 95% are real events from his childhood, adolescence, military service, special forces and fighting at international competitions in Combat SAMBO. It will be such a biopic.


Why Fedor?

The dream of every director is to find a hero of our time, and I think I found him. Fedor's life seemed very interesting to me, thanks to which you can display a lot, exactly as we were taught: from the particular to the general. And I decided to bring it to life. The idea was “cooked” in our head for three years, and we began to write a script with a scriptwriter Anna Ganshina. Then we started shooting trial videos. The preview video, where Fedor runs through the sands and fights with himself at the factory, is a kind of sketch, outlines for a future film. Here is the search for texture, we can evaluate how Fedor looks in the frame.

And then we shot the outline of a future battle. In the gym Fedor sparred with Vladislav Kysa. The main requirement in the film is full contact work. It was a high-quality, tough sparring. But if in ordinary sparring sambists fight without stopping, then the problem of filming is constant “stops”. We shoot the same moment from different angles – for a clearer display of a strike, capture or throw. And I had a setup for the entire film crew – to clearly capture all the shots in the frame.

At the same time, they should not be fake, as it is filmed in many films and TV series, and then hides behind editing or foreshortening. Because of this, it happens that you watch Russian films and do not understand whether it was a fight, or what it was... Basically, athletes and people who were engaged in martial arts frown and say that this is nonsense. My setup was for full contact, closer to Asian cinema. And this is such a know-how for the Russian film market.

Due to the fact that Fedor was trained in a film school, in my opinion, he is very organic in the frame. We also held a screen test, and Fedor was shot quite convincingly. It was a small but serious dramatic episode.

And how was the video filmed, where Fedor fights with himself?

His constant sparring partner Vladislav Kysa also played the role of the “second Fedor”. They worked together so well that it is very convenient to stage fights with their participation. Fedor proposes certain combinations of the fight, and the operator and I build the choreography of the fight. At rehearsals before filming, the operator carefully watches where they go during the fight, where they fall and then catches all these movements.


How long did it take to shoot the two-minute fight?

First, rehearsals took place, which took us two days. After that, filming began – it lasted two nights. These are not only moments of the battle, but also the elaboration of the concept of the battle. Then, right on the set, we edited the footage and watched how it all was glued in order to be able to complete some more angles. I really love to dive into details. In my opinion, details are everything. Everything is built on the details in dramatic scenes and scenes of fights – like a house made of bricks. Making the viewer involved in what is happening on the screen is one of the main goals for the film crew.

What will happen in the film, besides the "combat component"?

Everything will be exactly as it happens in life, including the love line. There will be a beloved woman, then she will not be loved, the appearance of a future wife, a child – in fact, as everything happened in Fedor's life. Naturally, with certain changes for the script. I don't know how much artistic truth there will be in the end, but 100 percent real life will be displayed. There is a place for fights on the street and in a restaurant, fights without rules and much more.


This is partly an action film, but our main task is to make a great human story. Real, good, without any vulgarity and, most importantly, it has to be alive. That is what we all lack.

How will this film be of interest to a wide audience?

I see my main goal in this film to convey to the viewer that there is such a sport – SAMBO. It was a discovery for me that my acquaintances from the world of cinema, business, or simply hired workers from different fields who are far from sports, do not know anything about Combat SAMBO. They were quite seriously convinced that this was some kind of combat dance.

Therefore, the main goal of the film is to popularize SAMBO for the people, for the ordinary viewer. There are examples when, thanks to films about hockey or basketball, many people who did not understand the nuances of these sports suddenly became interested in them. I have the same overarching task in relation to the film about SAMBO.


How familiar are you with this sport?

I have been engaged in martial arts for over 12 years and continue to keep myself in good shape, so this is all familiar to me. An important factor for a filmmaker of a film about martial arts is to know what it is when strike flies into your head, when you are thrown or you are pained on the ground.

Based on the goals that you set for yourself, can we expect that after watching this film everyone will go to practice SAMBO?

There are such ambitions. How Bruce Lee brought kung fu to America, and many began to perceive the culture of China through films. In fact, cinema today is a serious means of influencing the viewer and popularizing culture. And we are positioning "League of Warriors" as the first film about Combat SAMBO. Each nation has its own martial art, corresponding to its mentality. In England - boxing, in Japan - judo and karate, in China - wushu, kung fu, in Brazil - capoeira and so on. And in Russia there is a unique martial art of SAMBO, which, in my opinion, is very consistent with the mentality of a Russian person. There is a trinity in SAMBO: endurance, fearlessness and mercy are combined here.


When and where will the filming take place, and how long will it take?

Now the preparatory period is underway, and the end of filming is scheduled for late 2022 or early 2023. The coordination of objects takes some time, but we are supported by the All-Russian SAMBO Federation and personally by its President Sergey Eliseev. We will organize the filming in the Krasnodar Territory and St. Petersburg. We are also considering the option of filming at the International SAMBO and Boxing Center, which is now being built in Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium.

Fedor spent his childhood in Siberia, but there is a high probability that we will shoot Siberia in Karelia. This is such a magic of cinema. We know that there are places there that are absolutely consistent with Siberia. In addition to interesting locations, we will have famous actors and renowned athletes. So far I can not voice the names, but these are stars of the first magnitude.

What does this film mean to you personally?


I have been in the profession for a long time: I worked as a director both in the theater and in the cinema. I shot a lot of short films and videos, staged performances, but I didn't have a full length in cinems, it would be a debut. This is a very important stage for me, I am very scrupulous about it, and I will carefully select the entire film crew for the project. It is important that the film group speaks the same language. Because when there is no dialogue, a mess begins. And I want the whole body to work like a clock. Then there is good co-creation, and a quality film is produced. I treat this project as if it were my child, so that I can be proud of it.

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