The fictional biographical drama The Humorist follows one week in the life of a leading Soviet stand-up comedian. “The story would also work with a singer, but I’m fascinated by Soviet humour, the fact that in a country where you couldn’t make fun of anything several comedians became stars and sold out halls with their toothless humour. You should always make your first film about something you’ve been thinking about your whole life. I put my memories of childhood, Soviet humour and the compromises that bring success into it,” said director Mikhail Idov.
His film is set in August 1984, shortly before the accession of Gorbachev and under the government of Chernenko. “For me the whole Chernenko era, which lasted only a year, was actually an absurd joke. Everybody knew he was sick when he became the country’s leader. Within a few years, there were three politicians’ coffins on Red Square,” said the director.
Czech viewers, who will be able to catch The Humorist at cinemas from 25 April, may know Idov as the co-screenwriter of the film Leto, during the filming of which director Kirill Serebrennikov was placed under house arrest by the Russian authorities, where he remains. “The crew had to shoot using his notes, which his lawyer brought to us,” said Idov, who described Serebrennikov’s case as politically motivated. Like all the other films in the Centropa section, his directorial debut was created with Czech involvement from producer Artemio Benki and others. “I’m a big fan of the Czech New Wave and the editor Michal Lánský worked with Jan Němec and knew Forman,” said the director.