Conducted by Monika Bernotas (interviewer) and Alex McGrath (camera and sound) in July 2011.
Transcribed by Micah Butler, Bailey Orr, Julia Seeley-Hall, Spencer Small, and Maggie Swift in Spring 2015.
Analysis written by Julia Seeley-Hall.
While studying with the 2011 William and Mary summer program in St. Petersburg, Russia, Monika Bernotas (’12) interviewed Marina Grigorievna Agureeva for the The Russian Movie Theater Project. Camera and sound: Alex McGrath (’13). Marina is a professor of Russian at Saint Petersburg State University. The interview was transcribed and translated by Micah Butler, Bailey Orr, Julia Seeley-Hall, Spencer Small, and Maggie Swift in spring 2016 as part of the Russian Movie Theater Project.
Marina Agureeva was born in St. Petersburg, then called Leningrad, and lived there until the age of eight. Then, her family moved to Murmansk for five years before returning to Leningrad, where Agureeva lived until she was twenty four. She then spent three years in Moscow for graduate school before returning to her home city (1:54). Both Agureeva’s parents hold college degrees; her mother a specialist in law and her father the captain of an oil tanker (2:29). Agureeva herself has an advanced degree in second language acquisition (2:48).
This interview clearly presented a challenge for the interviewer, as Agureeva was generally disinclined to volunteer information without direct prompting, and answered most questions very succinctly. For example, when asked about her level of education, Agureeva responded with the single word “higher” (2.48). Throughout the interview, the interviewer left the script to ask follow-up questions. Despite her reticence, Agureeva does make an effort to ensure her responses are understood by, speaking slowly and clearly for the most part, and sometimes explaining terms that she thinks the interviewer may be unfamiliar with.
Agureeva describes several different phases in her moviegoing experience. As a child and teenager, she went to the movies with her parents in order to learn more about the world, gradually developing an interest in foreign films – particularly British historical films. Unfortunately, she cannot recall any specific titles. She became interested in Russian cinema as a student, when she would occasionally go to the movies with her friends. Later, her interest in moviegoing largely vanished, until recent years when she started going to the movies with her grandchildren (21:34). When asked about her favorite movies, Agureeva responds with several classics such as Irony of Fate and Moscow Doesn’t Believe in Tears, saying that these are films loved by all Russians (8:44). Her interest in Russian cinema is also evident in her favorite director, Tarkovskii, and how readily she names his film Mirror as her favorite film by him (11:53).
Agureeva views film as a form of art, and going to the movies as a way to experience art – for this reason, she says that she thinks it rude that people so commonly and noisily eat and drink in movie theaters today. Not only is it disrespectful to the art of the film, but also to others at the theater attempting to experience the film (14:07). Interestingly, although she does view cinema as an art form worthy of serious consideration, Agureeva later describes moviegoing as a childish pursuit. When describing her own experience of losing interest in going to the movies, she says that it’s “natural” for people to lose interest in film as they grow older, in favor of other hobbies (22:28).