Andrei Konchalovsky Wants People to Attend His Film's Screenings "Without Popcorn"

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Andrei Konchalovsky

The Russian director of 'The Sin,' a biopic about renowned 16th century Italian artist Michelangelo, says the movie is "quiet" and requires viewers' special attention.

Andrei Konchalovsky, the Russian director of Il Peccato (The Sin), which had its world premiere Saturday as the Rome Film Festival's special closing event, said he will call on the film's audiences not to munch popcorn during screenings to be able to properly hear what's said onscreen.

"I pity [popcorn-munching viewers of Hollywood blockbusters] because they don’t' know other kinds of pleasure," Konchalovsky, 82, said in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. "But I'll ask people to come to screenings without popcorn. This is a very quiet film."

"When I made [2010's] The Nutcracker, my U.S. producer insisted on making the soundtrack louder, saying that viewers won't be able to make out the lines because they munch popcorn," added the helmer, who worked in Hollywood in the 1980s, directing, among others, Homer and Eddie and Tango & Cash.

The Sin centers on Michelangelo Buonarotti, a renowned Italian painter and sculptor of the 16th century, but Konchalovsky stresses he didn't want to make a traditional biopic.

"I don't think in categories [of traditional biopics]," he explained. "Fifty years ago, I co-wrote with [Andrei] Tarkovsky Andrei Rublev, a film about a medieval artist, in which he is never depicted paining an icon. That's not a traditional biopic. There is no love story, just an enigma of his life, and only at the end of the film his works are shown, which, to some extent, could be projected to what you've just seen. And once I'd written the script of The Sin, I realized it was, in a sense, a continuation of Rublev."

Konchalovsky, whose two previous features, The White Nights of Postman Aleksey Tryapitsyn and Paradise, brought him best director Silver Lions at the Venice International Film Festival, admits it was hard to fund the $18.8 million auteur project, set in the Renaissance era.

"I was lucky, just like Michelangelo," he observed. "Michelangelo had Lorenzo the Magnificent, and I now have [Russian tycoon] Alisher Usmanov's Foundation for Support of Arts and Sports, which provided 70 percent of the budget."

The rest of the funding came from the Russian culture ministry and Italian co-producers Jean Vigo Italia and Rai Cinema.

"Technically, I could make a film with an iPhone if I didn't have the money," Konchalovsky said. "But when I have the money, I'll make something like The Sin. My condition is that I tell all potential backers that they won't see their money back. Most of them withdraw at this point. But Usmanov didn't."

In recent years, Konchalovsky has been ambivalent about the Oscars. He withdrew White Nights from consideration as the Russian entry in the best foreign-language film Oscar race back in 2014, but, two years later, he didn't object to Russia submitting Paradise and the film made the January shortlist.

As far as The Sin is concerned, Konchalovsky says he doesn't really care. "Oscars are a step towards bigger budgets and bigger pictures," he notes. "But bigger budgets actually lead to less freedom."