MacGuffin

In March 2020, the film’s auteur, Anar Azimov, found himself trapped in a foreign city under COVID-19 lockdown, and his film project was cancelled due to the quarantine. Using his smartphone, he decided to make a docufiction about his situation. Documentary videos the film consists of are spontaneous. They mostly depict things rather than people, which stresses the quarantine realities with social life almost non-existent. The voice-over narration is mostly documentary as well. The narrator-protagonist is fictional, but his circumstances are mostly the same as the auteur’s, and his voice belongs to the auteur himself.
“MacGuffin” is a famous cinema term invented by Alfred Hitchcock to define something irrelevant or non-existent in the story for the characters to search for to lure the audience’s attention. The protagonist himself recognises he’s searching for his wife in a city she’s far away from. Yet the true MacGuffin is the very protagonist. He’s searching for himself, for his creative and romantic identity - and eventually finds he no more exists.

  • Anar Azimov
    Director
  • Anar Azimov
    Writer
  • Vlad Donchenko
    Sound designer
  • Anar Azimov
    Sound designer
  • Anar Azimov
    Cinematographer
  • Vuano Films
    Producer
  • Anar Azimov
    Editor
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Experimental, Feature
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 10 minutes 10 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    May 15, 2020
  • Production Budget:
    400 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    Ukraine
  • Country of Filming:
    Azerbaijan, France, Ukraine
  • Language:
    English
  • Shooting Format:
    Digital
  • Aspect Ratio:
    2.39:1
  • Film Color:
    Black & White and Color
  • First-time Filmmaker:
    No
  • Student Project:
    No
  • Filmfest Bremen
    Bremen
    Germany
    April 14, 2021
    World premiere
    Innovation nomination/official selection
Distribution Information
  • Philippe Louis Galliano
    Sales Agent
  • My Spotlight Independent
    Distributor
Director Biography - Anar Azimov

Born in 1969 in Baku, Azerbaijan. PhD in Philosophy (1995). British Council Playwright Course graduate (1999). Alexander Sokurov’s Film Directing online course graduate (2021).
Né en 1969 à Bakou, Azerbaïdjan. Doctorat en philosophie (1995). Diplômée du British Council Playwright Course (1999). Diplômé du cours en ligne de réalisation de films d'Alexander Sokurov (2021).

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Director Statement

The story is told by the protagonist as the voice-over. It’s visualised as a sequence of smartphone videos. The sequence is rather associative or emotional than purely logical.
For example, when the narrator mentions “Hitchcock-suspense”, the camera shows a staircase, its shadow on the wall, leading into darkness; repeated meaningless statements are visualised as playing the street-organ etc.
The smartphone is the best option as a camera for this story: as the protagonist tells his story as a voice-over, we trace his mind, or his memory, through spontaneous videos he made. Spontaneity has demanded refusal from any external accessories such as stabilisers or lenses. This is for the “documentary” part of the film’s genre. However, there’s also a “fiction” part, which has demanded the following solutions .
The only sound in the film is the narrator’s voice. I did consider using some other sounds to illustrate the shots, but have finally decided to avoid it to provide for the feeling of the narrator-protagonist’s disconnection from the world. However, environment sounds do emerge in the film during the final credits to illustrate it’s no more the protagonist’s world, and the film is over.
I’ve used slo-mo, reverse effect etc. to demonstrate whatever we see on the screen is rather a transformation of the reality in the narrator’s mind than the reality itself.