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Oksana Bychkova. Voice of the Young People

Oksana Bychkova. Voice of the Young People

It is no secret that youth is the most beautiful period of time when we are full of energy, optimism, certainty and hopes for the future. One of the peculiar features of youth is easiness of decision making, attitude towards life and people, which are characterized by the fact that people are not attached to anything and are responsible for themselves only. This the reason why we act crazily, tend to adventures and romantics which we love so much in the movies.

The person to be spoken about in the article is Oksana Bychkova – a rare romantic in Russian cinema. Having become a true voice of the young, this red-haired bright girl praises the love ode in its full embodiment with her art.

Piter FM

Oksana’s father, a sea captain, once brought her, a twelve year old girl, to Saint Petersburg by boat and showed her the city. She fell in love with this wonderful pretty City instantly.

This may be the reason why after finishing Higher Courses for Scriptwriters and Film Directors in the workshop of Pyotr Todorovsky, her first movie was “Piter FM” released in 2006 (Piter is a general nickname for St. Petersburg). It was nominated for the Best Debut in the Cinema Festival “The Window to Europe” and was loved by the audience.

Plot

Masha (Ekaterina Fedulova, MTV-Russia Prize for the Best Female Acting) is a radio DJ working at a popular Saint Petersburg radio station (Piter FM); Maksim (Evgeniy Tsyganov) – an aspiring architect.

She is prankish, romantic and spontaneous, preparing for her wedding with ex-classmate Kostya, who is very conservative and practical, used to living according to his plan and rules.

Maksim who adores Saint Petersburg is invited to work in Germany.

Our main characters must be happy of being so lucky, but they have doubts if they really need such dramatic changes.

Their fates get crossed when Masha loses her cell and Maksim finds it. They try to meet but something always get on their way.

Phone conversations bring them together, let them understand each other, and help to make the only right decision.

The movie has become a real phenomenon in spite of being criticized. It is a rare for Russia movie for the audience which leaves good feelings after watching.

Oksana Bychkova managed to put lightness, warm-heartedness, and lyricism into her movie. Her personal experience of working on the radio station and love for the City added to the naturalness and sincerity of the movie.

Comedy sketches featuring such famous actors as Vladimir Mashkov, Andrei Krasko, Aleksandr Bashirov are one of the brightest features of the “Piter FM” and Bychkova’s style.

And of course there is no radio without music! A wonderful musical kaleidoscope of songs different in genres but sounding so harmonically.

Musical image of the movie is made up by such groups as Gorod 312, Via Chappa, Mumiy Troll, Bad Balance, and also the purest Saint Petersburg bands such as Aquarium, Markscheider Kunst, and KREC.

 

“Piter FM” became a hallmark of Saint Petersburg. The City plays one of the major roles in the movie. Its little streets, quays, and architecture conquer the attention of the audience right away. Many fascinated and initiative people still conduct excursions to those places shown in the movie with so much love and tenderness.

Plus One

Next movie by Bychkova “Plus One” (orig. Plyus Odin) was released in 2008. It received some awards for the Best Actor, the Best Actress and the Best Movie from popular film festivals of Russia.

The movie was released with the slogan “The Movie-Happiness”. Oksana indeed continues to give optimism and inspire her audience that the world is not so gloomy if to look at it from another angle.

Plot

A translator Masha (Madlen Jabrailova) is a girl who lives in a shell; she is completely isolated in her own world of a size of a little, quiet, and cozy apartment where the only escape from loneliness is working on a book translation.

One day she is offered a side job – to accompany a puppeteer Tom from Great Britain (Jethro Skinner – the Prize for the Best Male Role at the Open Russian Film Festival Kinotavr) in Moscow where he comes to conduct master classes for young puppet theatre actors. His only true friend and talk partner is a glove doll Diggy which he doesn’t leave even for a moment.

An odd puppeteer scares Masha with his eccentric behavior and this silly animal on his hand as she is a reserved and a private person. Gradually she changes and her heart melts as she gets to know Tom while working and talking to this reckless man.

Oksana Bychkova makes the next step in an analysis of a man’s relationship with himself and with other people in her second full-lenght movie. She develops a theme of eternal inner conflict between mind and heart. The protagonists discover new sides of themselves.

Begginning as a comedy about opposites’ attraction turns into exciting journey to the inner world of the characters. Tom and Masha reveal themselves to each other and to an audience as real people, not just the elements of a screenplay. It becomes possible also due to performance by the actors who create this “extra dimension” with a nonverbal behavior.

Puppet as a body for a hidden part of an identity which gives this part a voice is an accurate and concise image found by Oksana Bychkova.

As well as a debut full-length motion picture “Plus One” features comedy sketches that are Bychkova’s thing. This time Andrey Merzlikin as a militiaman in love, Pavel Derevyanko, Yuri Kolokolnikov, Evgeniy Tsyganov playing the roles of tall puppets and Aleksandr Adabashyan as a beer expert (watch together with the Credits) contribute their portion of humour.

Another Year

It’s been six years since the release of “Plyus Odin”. Bychkova explained this long silence as the lack of financing. In January of 2014 she introduced her third movie “Another Year” (orig. Eshche odin god) to the audience (the title of the movie turned out to be prophetic as it had to wait a year to be released). It happened in Rotterdam where the movie received the Big Screen Award.

This time Oksana is different making a different movie. She gives almost no music, comedy, lightness, but still speaks about love and youth – a central theme of her movies.

The director says in one of her interviews:

“…there is a gap in ten years between “Piter FM” and “Another Year”. It is a long period of time. A person changes a lot in ten years, and his movies change too. I would never be able or will be able to shoot anything like “Piter FM”… one should not wait for it from me. What I want to focus on right now is something like “Another Year”.

Plot

The movie is sort of a remake of a Soviet movie “Don’t leave those you love” (orig. S lyubimymi ne rasstavaytes) (1979) based on the play and script of one of the major playwrights of his time Aleksandr Volodin.

This is a story of ruining of a young family within a year. A twenty-five year old Egor nicknamed Mosquito (Aleksey Filimonov) and Zhenya (Nadezhda Lumpova) moved to the capital and live together in a rented apartment in one of the suburbs of Moscow.

He has a higher education but has to work as a taxi driver. She is an aspiring web-designer in a hipsterish mass media. They love each other but during this year they become different acquiring different interests.

Zhenya influenced by her colleagues wants to “move further”, develop as an individual. She is attracted by intellectual conversations about nothing, watching serious movies, visiting concerts.

Egor is a domestic and simple man. He doesn’t want to enter this happening world. His male esteem doesn’t let him adapt or grovel for a job. He is jealous of his wife, but not to a certain person, but to the way she changes so easily. Disagreements, reproaches, failing to understand each other lead them to a divorce.

Only after separation our characters realize they still love each other in spite of all the disagreements. But they don’t let themselves to admit it to one another.

With each movie Bychkova penetrates deeper and deeper into her characters. On the one hand, she creates them real, alive. On the other hand, they increasingly become representatives of their generation.

Thus, first two movies are out of some specific time. Probably young people in the middle of 2000s had less feelings towards the outer environment as politics and social problems because this environment was less hostile to them.

There is  a different atmosphere in the third movie of Bychkova. Her characters exist in a difficult and cruel environment. They have to live in small rented apartments in a huge and rich Moscow trying to make ends meet.

The characters of her previous movies are open to their feelings, they are impulsive and childish while the characters of “Another Year” being young and happy are forced to face the challenges of adult life where it is hard to see the light behind the darkness of Moscow winter.

Nevertheless, Oksana’s unique open final scenes let the audience figure out the endings according to what they believe themselves in.


Oksana Bychkova is a true follower of the Soviet cinematography in its modern interpretation. Her movies are for a wide audience, but really non-mainstream. She makes them in her own particular style.

I want to strike the balance between making a good movie for a wide audience a la precisely made pictures of 1970s when most of Soviet films was made for this audience and upholding the laws of independent filmmaking.

— Oksana Bychkova said at the movie pitching event organized by the Ministry of Culture of Russian Federation.


That’s what bright artists of Saint Petersburg tell about a unique style of Oksana Bychkova, a director of the 21th century’s greatest movie about this city.

Danila Shevchenko
Actor of the Moscow Hermitage Theatre and Praktika Theatre, film actor

An audition and a part in Oksana’s movie were the first I got after the move to Moscow. We met at the Soyuzmultfilm Studio. As a result, I’ve played an episode of the New Year party in the “Another year”. Although it lasts a few moments in the movie we had been filming it for ten hours. And this hours just got away. And it’s all due to Oksana. It’s really hard to celebrate the New Year for ten hours. But our director filled us with so much positive energy before every take that a time flew by. Oksana is a very bright person. Her movies are full of light in spite of the plot twists. I think this kind view of the world is her unique style.

As a resident of Saint Petersburg I watched the “Piter FM” thoughtfully. And I think this story could happen just here…

Billy Novik
frontman of top Saint Petersburg jazz band “Billy’s Band”, actor and a leader of jazz Russification movement

“Piter FM” is a light, fresh, vibrant, young movie!

Saint Petersburg in this movie is what it is, just as it should be in a film like this. I think it was important not to overload it.

The movie planted an idea in me that despite being so close we don’t see the thing.

Is Oksana Bychkova a special author? I’m not sure. Maybe. All the people are good, let alone the authors. It’s not so important to be special, it’s important to be!

It’s pretty safe to say that Oksana is the voice of young people in the cinema! She is really good!

Jenia Lubich
Singer and songwriter

My first impression of watching the “Piter FM” was really warm. For me, it’s a mood movie, feeling movie. I think Oksana Bychkova has conveyed that special summer air of Saint Petersburg filled with Neva, romance and the feelings of main characters, although it’s so difficult to convey. Invisible waves, certain radio waves become visible, and love is felt in every take, love for the city, its rhythm and its people. At the same time, the movie pace isn’t slow (as, for example, Tarkovsky’s pictures). It is vital and reflects today’s life.

Certainly there are many beutiful angles and a brilliant camera work in this film but it’s so easy and natural. Here the form seems to be in harmony with a breath of Saint Petersburg life. I think Oksana has her own specific filmmaking style.

We first met after my concert in Moscow and I felt like we went way back… Speaking of the “Piter FM”, we similarly feel my city… And this feeling unites us, makes us closer, also in a music and poetic sense.

I like the “Piter FM” soundtrack. However, I could imagine a few of my songs about Saint Petersburg playing in this movie. Who knows? Maybe my music will sound in the new movies by Oksana someday…

The most recent movie by Oksana is "What does Slava want?" (orig. Chego hochet Slava?), released on the Premier online cinema (Russian Netflix) last year.