Author: Allanna LESKENLI
Swinging Over the Caspian is a joint production of Caspian Media Group (CMG) and the Ministry of Culture. The plot of the new movie revolves around a girl from Russia who found herself in Azerbaijan for the first time and fell in love with the country forever. The story is indeed based on real events as described in the eponymous book by Maria Suvorovskaya.
Old as the world
The plot is set in Moscow and Baku. It is a classical love triangle between Tasha, Ruslan and Leyla. The narrative of their relations is also presented in a classical way: day before yesterday-yesterday-today. Problem discussed in the book is as old as the world, yet it remains relevant in the 21st century as well. During the presentation event, female readers remembered with excitement the similar experiences they got through some 15-30 years ago. The book was presented in May 2019 in the conference hall of the Baku Book Centre, although it was published in 2018. In the same year it was translated to Azerbaijani. A premiere of the eponymous film based on the book is scheduled for March 2021 in Baku. Actual filming takes place both in Russia and Azerbaijan. It is planned to release Swinging Over the Caspian for show in the theatres of Moscow and the regions of Russia. Non-commercial shows will take place in Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Ukraine, European countries and the US.
This is not the first full-length motion picture produced by Caspian Media Group. The films released by the company are quite popular. For example, Qayınana-2018 (Mother-in-Law-2018) topped the list of films distributed nationwide, while İki yad adam (Two Strangers) was shown in Paris, Vienna, Beijing, Astana, Tbilisi and other cities. In 2020, İncə məqam (A Sensitive Issue) based on the works of Mirjalal Pashayev will be presented to the general audience. Director of the company, Huseyn Javadzade, attaches great importance to the quality of products, as he believes that cinema is still the most important of all arts. We had a chance to have a short dialogue with Mr. Javadzade, presented below.
Huseyn Javadzadeh is a graduate of the Azerbaijan State University of Culture and Arts (ASUCA), Montreux Business University in Switzerland. For the last ten years he has taught cinematography and production at ASUCA. He is also the director of CMG and a film producer.
“Caspian Media Group has a practical experience in film production. This is your fifth project. But why did you choose SwingingOver the Caspian as your next project?”
“Because I was impressed by the author's boundless love for Azerbaijan, her sincerity in describingthe relations between the main characters and our desire to project the literary story onto screen. Also, the intrigue of the plot is still relevant in the contextof multicultural tolerance, personal relationships between the characters and an attractive love story. This is going to be a melodrama in Russian. The crew includes famous masters: Gulu Askerov as director, Rauf Gurbanaliyev as director of photography. For the leading roles we have actors from Russia: Emil Hasanzade as Ruslan, author of the book Maria Suvorovskaya as Tasha. Leyla will be played by Duygu Develi from Baku. Otheractors from the theatres of Baku are also involved in the project. People's Artist of Azerbaijan Brilliant Dadasheva will star in the film too. If everything goes as planned, the premiere will take place during the Novruz holidays. Then we plan to show the film in the CIS countries and some European countries. That's all I can tell you about the project for now.”
Emil Hasanzade is a former athlete (football player and the champion of the All-Russian Sambo Tournament), model, student of the acting studio at the B. Shshukin Theatre Institute.
“Do you think the role of Ruslan can help you to better understand yourself and your peers?”
“I can answer your question only when we finish the production. But for now I can say that I study my character in detail. It is not just aprocess but the one which involved a detailed psychological study of the feelings and emotions of someone completely different than me. I think I did not make a mistake when I decided to be an actor because it gives me a chance for practical research, study and understanding of the nature of human feelings and relationships.”
Maria Suvorovskaya is a writer, a poet and the author of SwingingOver the Caspian.
“Prior to publishing SwingingOver the Caspian you hadtried yourself in various jobs and role-playing functions. You were a TV host, journalist. Then you were involved in social activities, and finally became a writer. Now you’re going to try yourself in acting...”
“Yet I need to figure out a lot of things. When I was a child, I was dreaming of playing in the theatre. My dream came through, albeit unexpectedly. I can only say that my new function as an actress helps me to go through a kind of rebirth, change, transformation... The plot of the film will be slightly different from the original. Attentive readers will definitely see the difference. But screenwriter Nijat Dadashov and producer Huseyn Javadzade have always contacted mefor details. We have a good creative team. I was lucky to have such a team, including the director, cameraman, actors, and everyone behind the scenes. We had time to chat. Their views on my heroes and their experiences, the emotional swing in certain life circumstances are well in tune with my idea of what this story should be on the screen. The film, like the book, is my declaration of love to the city of Baku and Azerbaijan. I fell in love with this ancient land of fires and windsforever. I would like to live here…”
Duygu Develi plays the role of Leyla.
“What attracted you the most in your character Leila?”
“Her unusual character I’d say. Nobility, tolerance, wisdom, self-control, self-dignity, decency, even in the most difficult moments of emotional turbulence. Leyla is fragile, noble and proud. I could not help but love her character. Building her character is challenging, but very exciting.”
Our conversation with the director of the film, Gulu Askerov, was longer and more extensive. Subtle analytical psychologism, his ability and desire to penetrate into the most hidden corners of the thoughts and feelings of the characters, his study of mental, religious and cultural differences in the characters promise not a banal story of love relationships, but a melodramatic rise of sincere feelings and passions that form the dynamics of a swing - flying up and going down. Behind it is the truth of the real life of modern people of the megalopolis of the XXI century...
Gulu Askerov is a graduate of ASUCA. He started making films since 2017. His portfolio includes the TV series Sarı gəlin (72 episodes), Könül yarası, Yad gəlin (2 seasons), a short film Etiraf and now Swinging over the Caspian.
“Why did you opt for SwingingOver the Caspian?”
“I read the novel. The plot impressed me with the problems raised by the author and her sincere tone of the narrative. Then I read the script and realised that I wanted to make a film adaptation of the story describing the feelings and relationships in the context of fight against age-old prejudices. In fact, it is a classical story. But it revolves around the characters neither of the 12th century, norof the 19th century, but in the 21st century! We fly in airplanes and use fancy gadgets, but we think and feel like the medieval people. Kipling once said that the West is the West and the East is the East and they will never converge. More than a hundred years have passed. Problemsare still relevant. And one cannot remain silent about this. You can't pretend that it doesn't exist. The history of relations in the classical triangle of love between Tasha-Ruslan-Leyla is about this. Mental and cultural differences between people should not be an obstacle to human happiness and true love.”
Gulu is a compassionate person, which is a very important virtue for any director. He has an equally reverent attitude towards his characters and actors. The characters of heroes on the screen and actors in real life are equally important and interesting for him. That’s why the film has every chance of becoming popular. Moreover, the basis is a truthful and sincere story that happened not so long ago on the coast of the Caspian Sea...
A story that is similar to thousands and thousands of the same stories and destinies that crashed on emotional swings over the Caspian Sea. A story that recalled that the world is still divided into two largest civilizations - the West and the East. These civilizations, like giants, like rocks, firmly stand in their places, have specific cultures and are not going to change, despite the processes of globalization or regionalization taking place in history. Why? This is a matter of further research by analysts, historians, psychologists, cultural scientists and artists. Including cinema professionals. The film will give a chance to look from the outside at the situation that creates a problem, depriving people of the opportunity to be just happy...
The partner of Caspian Media Group in the project is the Russian publishing and communication group Business Dialogue Media headed by Maria Suvorovskaya, with the information support of the leading mass media outlets of Russia and Azerbaijan.