The film "Dubliner", 2019 (Ireland/Russia/France/Italy) is a tribute to Stephen Keenan, Irish freediver who set a few national records in freediving and was considered among the best safety divers on the planet. Stephen Keenan had a fatal blackout on the 22nd of July 2017 in the Blue hole, Dahab, Egypt, while providing the safety for Alessia Zecchini, the World champion in freediving and saved her life.
The story of Stephen Keenan was covered in the most of Irish and some of the Uk papers in late July 2017. The film is a docufiction, directed by Linda Rosenfeld who was born in Russia in 1972. Since 2004 Linda has been living mostly abroad implementing her personal projects in Egypt, Italy and other countries. "Dubliner" is Linda Rosenfeld's directorial debut.
What was the inspiration behind the making of your Dubliner?
"Dubliner"was selected by Venice Shorts and other 19 festivals worldwide and got five awards in 2020-2021, it is my first film, it is a film-tribute to my friend Stephen Keenan, a famous Irish free-diver, a man who knew no fear.
The inspiration behind making it was driven by the necessity to transform the grief into something, into creative process... The loss of Stephen was so painful, I counted more than 50 posts on FB, where people were saying "Steve is my best friend!" and there would be a following page size story, it was absolutely heartbreaking... I started to think how to gather some of these stories together to make a memory of our dear friend. In the meanwhile I had a series of dreams on Stephen which were also influential on my decision to make a film. Steve was a legend, a star in freediving, and such a big heart, he always was there for you. Our common friend with Steve, Sinem Uretmen, model, performer and photographer at my events years before that, she told me in October 2017: "Make a film about Steve!" I replied: " But I have never made any film before..." "Just start making it, you can do it, and if you don't complete it, somebody will finish it for you": Sinem told me in response. I have written on Stephen FB page, that I would like to make a film about him, and am looking for a cameraman. A talented young French cameraman Bastien Clément has replied me shortly, we met the same day, I shared my ideas and we have started to film in the next few days. It was an incredible fortune to meet Bastien, every time I would explain him something, almost every time it was better than I would have imagined! I was fascinated, and he just said: "Well, you explain well..."). Later on during the editing of the film we have literally used every single frame filmed by Bastien.... We have continued to work with Daniel Isichenko, an enthusiastic Russian cameraman with whom we have filmed the major part of the film and inspiringly edited the fiction part of it - my dreams, I am grateful for this experience.
I went to Ireland to meet Steve's family and friends and Irish cameramen James Fagan, Bulabosca and Jamie Goldrick were helping me through the way. I think it is important to mention that most of the cameramen would not charge anything for their work, doing it in the bright memory of Stephen Keenan. The whole process of making the "Dubliner" has become a unique experience, uniting efforts of many talented professionals. The project had no sponsor or financial support so I started to finance the production myself, and then two of my friends Gary Walshe and Den Mantrov have become co -producers of the film and supported it's further production.
What is the most challenging aspect of working in this particular genre? It is a great experience to stage and film your own dreams, it is incredibly inspiring. The most challenging aspect for me was to find someone who would look like Steve... Quite soon though I have luckily came across a Danish guy, Peter Møller Ravn who has agreed to take part in the film, he looked like Stephen a lot... He has also sang a song for the film playing guitar. It was tough for me to talk and film Steve's father, as his wound was still so sore. When did you realize that you wanted to work in media and make films and what was the first film project that you created as a director? I have worked in advertising for 9 years in Moscow, so I was familiar with filming and production process. But I have never thought of making a film before the events mentioned above.
How did you choose the cast and the crew of the film and what was the most challenging aspect of production? It was very challenging to do the final cut. The editing on the whole was just a bliss, a new level of freedom, when you know without thinking what frame is to follow. And when you put it together, it works sparklingly well! An amazing magical puzzle, where everything comes in place in it's right moment. I have already mentioned the crew answering the first question. I would like to mention and thank Gili Rahat, an Israeli singer from Jerusalem, an absolute genius, Jenny Liston from Galway, Ireland. Their vocals as well as the music of Fadi abu Alteeb are fascinating.
What genre of filmmaking fascinates you as a director and which genres do you prefer to work on? While my first film is a docufiction, the second is a fairytale - "The Giant Turnip", that we have filmed in Egypt last year. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bgDhQFlarfE
I like the combination of documentary and fiction and I would like to film more fairytales), I will work with non-professional actors, when you just meet people in life or they could be your friends whom you find appealing and fascinating and suitable for the certain role, just let them being themselves in the film, and this is what's needed. Just let them shine!
How can cinema change the world and have an impact on society?
Of course cinema can change the world, when films are inspirational and bright. What is your next film project as a director? We are completing the editing of the new film at the moment, KAMPOT LA VILLE LIBRE/KAMPOT FREE TOWN ((Russia/France/Belgium/Italy/UK//Lithuania/Japan/Colombia/Spain/Turkey) it's a musical multilingual documentary on how precious the freedom is. International crew has filmed it in Kampot, Cambodia in the spring - summer 2020 with the support of a small group of international co-producers.
Watch the trailer of Dubliner: