We catch up with Yves Degryse, Artistic Director of Berlin, who are bringing their ‘filmic portrait’ Zvizdal (Chernobyl – so far so close) to Brighton Festival
Can you tell us what your show is about?
Over four years we have been filming near Chernobyl in the forbidden zone. Each time we went it was to meet two people, Petro and Nadia, a couple in their 80s, living in Zvizdal and who refused to be evacuated following the nuclear disaster. They have been living with no water or electricity and no means of communication with the outside world. Every time we went we took a plane and hoped they were still there. We spent time filming them in their everyday lives.
How and where will it be staged?
The audience will be seated in two tiers in front of a big screen, and underneath the screen will be three scale models of the couple’s house and grounds, depicting three seasons. There will be two cameras filming the models and these images will be interspersed in the film.
Where did the idea and inspiration come from?
The French journalist Cathy Blisson, formerly a critic, but who moved into reportage, came into contact with Petro and Nadia and asked if we would be interested to collaborate with her, and we quickly decided to start the project.
Why do you think it’s an important story to tell?
The moment you enter the forbidden zone, you are entering a microcosm of human experience. It is a very extreme situation, but there are layers that you recognise, and as you spend time there the layers become more visible.
What sort of person is going to love this show?
Our work can be complex but at the same time it appeals to a very broad audience.
What’s going to surprise people about this show?
There will be surprises, relating to the concept of the piece, but the surprises you should not know beforehand.
What does Brighton Festival mean to you?
We have brought work to Brighton Festival before including Perhaps All The Dragons in 2014, and Lands End in 2012. What I really like about Brighton Festival is that I have the impression that the audiences are very eager to discover things. I think it’s connected with the way the Festival approaches the audience, not underestimating the audience.
This year marks 50 years of Brighton Festival. What does it mean for you to be part of the festival in this milestone year?
I’m very happy that we will be part of that moment.