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Q&A with ‘The Last Warrior’ film director Rustam Mosafir

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Film director Rustam Mosafir at the premiere of his film The Scythian at Moscow's Kosmos movie theater.

The Last Warrior arrived on VOD, Digital HD, and DVD/BD August 14, 2018.

A new era is about to begin in Eastern Europe. Scythians, the proud warriors, are all but gone and most of the few remaining descendants have become ruthless mercenary assassins. Lutobor is a warrior who becomes involved in intertribal conflicts and sets off on a perilous journey to save his family. His guide is a captive Scythian who is his enemy, but they brave the treacherous wild steppes, moving toward the last haven of the Scythians, to what seems to be their inevitable demise.

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I was lucky enough to score an interview with film’s director, Rustam Mosafir about why he produced the film, what makes it enjoyable, and the passion it took to complete it.

What made you write and develop the script?

I was always keen on genre films, starting with old B-movies to Asian action and Samurai cinema. I find that they have a spirit of freedom and it offers many opportunities for self-expression. Many great directors started their artistic way with “B- movies”. Speaking about “The Scythian”, I always wanted to realize a conversation piece, based on our history and mythology.  So “The Scythian” turned to be closer to Samurai cinema and Western in terms of its genre.

This film came out from b-movies, samurai cinema, westerns and books of Robert Govard that have inspired me. The plot is not in the center on the scene (it’s rather simple but intense), the more important here is the movie itself, a message that it sends, along with its passion.

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How did you go about funding the project? Did you have investors or was it your own personal money?

Initially, the scenario was about a prominent historical figure. We were about to realize a movie in two parts.  Meanwhile, a big Russian production had launched a similar project, so we couldn’t compete with such a huge movie in the terms of Russian cinema market. But it wasn’t possible to forget such a good story, so we decided to rewrite it completely. I had an idea to make a movie about Scythians a long time ago, among other things because not a lot of people know about Scythians.

Meanwhile, the Scythians had fascinating rituals: for instance, they made clothes from the skin of murdered enemies and I find this cruel world very dermatological for the cinema. So, we took a plot form a former scenario and put this story into the world of Scythians. I was searching for some time, who could realize this story pleased Sergey Selyanov, that read its first version about Kolovrat. So, he trusted in the future of our story, he proposed the ideas of how to make this story better and we started to collaborate on this project. Sergey Selyanov and his company STV is the biggest cinema production in Russia, they produce independent movies along with big-budget movies.

Are you of Russian descent? The reason I ask is that the film is a ” Russian language action adventure”?

[Rustam is of Russian descent, and he speaks a bit about breaking into the Russian film industry here]

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I was studying dramatics as my first education and was working as an actor in the theater for quite a long time.  But the cinema captured all my imagination. So after having finished my studies in dramatics, I enrolled in the film department. It was a long way, I was shooting a lot of short films until the moment when one famous producer offered me a proposal to work on my first motion picture. It was also a western. After this, I was working on some tv shows and was searching for budget funding for “The Scythian”.

Did you have any involvement with choosing your actors? If so, what was it about the cast that made them land the role?

From the beginning of our project, I wanted to take actors who were little –known to the average public.  I felt that new, unknown faces were needed. As it was announced in the narrative to “The Scythian”: the time of new heroes have begun, they are going to be legendary», we were searching for these heroes, made auditions during a long period of time. And we found them. It is more important to match the character than being a media personality.  I was looking for actors by their texture, their heart, and personal characteristics. Because it’s important that the personality go along with dramatic nature.

You can’t make a movie without heroes. At the auditions, I co-play with actors, because it’s really important for me to reach a connection between me and the actor. I don’t recognize auditions where you simply read a text on camera. The other important thing is a chemistry between the characters because there are just two of them in the movie. I would even say that it is the only character who have two faces. This chemistry was needed, and a match with the partner. And, I think, we managed to do it.

How long did it take you to complete shooting the film?

We made the movie in 45 days. It was a short shoot for an action movie. It was complicated, but we managed to do it.

What made you want to be behind the camera instead of the front?

The profession of an actor is very dependent; it means that there are not many things that are beyond you. An actor is a kind of soldier. A director is a general. In spite of the fact that there a lot of pitfalls and difficulties and other kinds of dependencies from producers and budget, there is still a vast range of possibilities of artistic expression. But I’m also still working as an actor. In “the Skythian” I played a role the warrior Kumai.

As a writer of films, have you ever written a book?

Not yet… I prefer to make visual art now. Maybe later I’ll think about it. But for now, I want to tell stories in a visual and cinematic way.

What are some of your other projects and talents we can look forward too?

I shot another “western” movie Witch Key, it was my debut and also some police crimes TV shows “The Search” and one comedy Tv Show “The Faculty”, so enjoy!

What will the audience enjoy most about this film? 

Its passion and emotional belonging and furious energy.

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Christina Jeter

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