When asked about his Academy Award nomination for Boxballet and whether or not I’m Burning might be a candidate for similar recognition, Dyakov was dismissive, saying that, “I don’t even know what an Oscar is. This is something abstract, a game of chance and providence. God forbid I do something with the expectation of winning a contest or competition. In the world, many are turned on by status, on proximity to the stars, on all this husk pasted over with rhinestones. Burn it with fire. It’s not a pity, because it’s empty.”
Boxballet helmer Anton Dyakov follows up his Oscar-nominated short with I’m Burning, created in partnership with Ukrainian group Gibkiy Chaplin.
“I had no motive to get into the context [of the war],” he explained in the interview. “And how can you predict that? I’m Burning coincided with the context, that’s how it happened. There are polar reactions to the film, which is good. So it’s scratchy. Means it’s uncomfortable, it stings and it chafes. As long as we feel something, we can be sure we’re alive. We’re on fire!”
Says Dyakov of the new film:
The very existence of war in a land where scars of the Great Patriotic War still remain, where every family necessarily has a card of a grandfather or great grandfather who laid his head for us to live in peace, means that somehow we have managed to lose the most precious thing in pursuit of shiny tinsel – blood brotherhood, which for centuries has united Russians and Ukrainians. I dedicate my film I’m Burning to all the people who are in distress on Ukrainian soil. No matter who they are, Russians or Ukrainians. There is no excuse for this war.
I’m Burning was produced by Sana Moreau with Ukrainian studio Komora Studio handling sound design. In development for more than a year-and-a-half, the film’s release has nothing to do with the current Russian invasion of Ukraine, and the cooperative nature of the production is coincidental, according to Dyakov.
Released on Latvian website Meduza.io with an accompanying interview, the short comes at a time when a Russian-Ukrainian partnership stands out as noteworthy, acknowledged by the Russian filmmaker who dedicated the film to all victims of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Note: All quotes from the Meduza interview were translated from Russian using DeepL.
In the film, a homeless man wakes up at a bus stop and begins his day, before inadvertently starting himself on fire with a faulty lighter while trying to ignite a cigarette butt he finds on the ground. The man then runs screaming through an alleyway where many watch on in amusement, none offering to help extinguish the flames.