"Notes from the New World" to screen at 13th International Film Festival of Detective Films in Moscow

Top Quote The new film "Notes from the new World" will screen at the 13th International Film Festival In Moscow. End Quote
  • (1888PressRelease) April 23, 2011 - The provocative film "Notes from the New World" to screen at the 13th International Film Festival of Detective Films in Moscow, Russia - April 20-24, 2011


    By Vitaly Sumin (writer/director/producer)

    Los Angeles 2011 ... Where dreams and harsh realities collide. A place where Steven is torn between the loves of two women. A place fraught with danger where he comes face to face with the Russian mafia. It is a place where he discovers who he really is.

    Steven Dumphy (24), an aspiring LA actor, gets a part in a modern adaptation, based on Dostoevsky's masterpiece "Notes from the Underground." While preparing for his role, Steven decides to read Dostoevsky's texts in the streets of the poor immigrant areas of L.A. That's how he meets the beautiful Sonia (18), an illegal Mexican immigrant, who envisions him as an angel. Then Irina (23), a Russian call girl with theatre ambitions, enters his life. Irina successfully passes the audition and is given the part of a Russian prostitute in the play. Soon, Steven finds himself torn between the two women. The plot thickens when the Mafia enters the picture, looking for a box with a secret content that used to be in Irina's possession. Both murder and accidental death occur along the way, before the box turns up, and even then, no one can be sure what surprises life will bring.

    On another level the story suggests an amazing reading of the state of the post modern world. Are we witnessing certain realization of Dostoevsky's prophecies?..

    A group of filmmakers have taken a novel, which has made an influence on modern day, and are turning it into a cinematic masterpiece. Robert Hurley, screenwriter of the first draft of "Notes from the New World," inspired by Dostoevsky's "Notes from the Underground," has vanished shortly after reporting that he was being harassed by unidentified individuals.

    According to Hurley, he saw a figure of a tall man prowling around his car in the parking lot. Hurley stepped outside to shout and frighten the man, but the intruder made it out in time. Other reports show Hurley was experiencing frequent nuisances. Shortly after Robert Hurley informed VM Productions about his encounter with the prowler, he disappeared. A precious, original copy of the shooting script made in pencil with the director's notes and breakdowns was stolen from Hurley's home and a threatening letter was left on his desk. The investigation conducted by the company won't go into detail about what was written in the note. All that is known is the threats had to do with his current script.

    Clues have raised suspicions that the members of the Russian mafia may be to blame. "Notes from the New World," tells the story of a young Hollywood actor who becomes tangled with a Russian prostitute and a Mexican immigrant. The Russian mafia plays a role in this film and isn't shown in a positive light.

    Neighbors say Hurley was a good man and can't imagine he'd have any enemies. Rebecca Studel, his neighbor, would chat with him while he fetched his morning paper. "We would talk about how his script was coming along. I used to joke that I wanted to be in one of his movies!"

    According to Vitaly Sumin, producer and director, the film is still underway. "He would have wanted us to go on with the show!" If you have seen or heard anything, please contact VM Productions at vmpfilms ( @ ) hotmail dot com dot


    Vitaly Sumin had completed the film Shades of Day based on the Dostoevsky's novella White Nights. It was time for the second film in his projected Dostoevsky/LA project. He had two Dostoevsky-inspired scripts completed: One was The Idiot, written in Paris several years before Shades of Day. The other was a re-visioning of Crime and Punishment set at the time of the riots that followed the Rodney King verdict in 1992.

    But the creative process has a way of establishing its own schedule, and out of inspiration and perhaps a need for the proverbial change of pace, Sumin's writing took a different direction in the form of a new script titled Love Game. It was a post-Orwellian tale that combined multiple strands of modern life: Hi-tech voyeurism, virtual reality, greed, and the diminution of personal meaning. Its characters were caught in a web, not of their own making, but one to which they willing submitted when they entered an electronically monitored maze in order to win a life-changing prize.

    But with the ongoing tectonic political and social shifts occurring in the world post 9-11, it soon became apparent that the Dostoevsky/LA project could no longer be kept on hold; and the story that resonated most strongly with the new reality was Notes from the Underground, with its simultaneously sobering and inspiring themes of personal freedom and willful alienation. Working at a feverish pace, Sumin created a script that took Dostoevsky's nineteenth century novella as the starting point for a strikingly original contemporary tale.

    Only later did Sumin realize that a key aspect of the plot-an ever-shifting love triangle between the main characters-had been subliminally derived from another work by Dostoevsky, his epic novel The Idiot.

    The script, soon to be titled Notes from the New World, had additional roots in two books outside of the Dostoevsky canon: The Magus by John Fowles and The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. The prototype for the plot-driving character of Bob in "Notes," for instance, is none other than Fowles' wealthy Greek master manipulator, Maurice Conchis. Some of Bob's traits are also drawn from the character of Bill in the Love Game script, which Sumin wrote well before he'd read The Magus. To complete the creative circle, it should be noted that neither The Magus nor The Alchemist would likely exist without the influence of Dostoevsky.

    It was in Notes from the New World that the inventions of Love Game would find a new and richer context. The concept of a bored, rich master manipulator observing human behavior in his private electronic matrix resurfaced with a heightened degree of humanity in the character of Bob Criden. But his surveillance activities were now motivated, not by idle curiosity, but by a passion to understand and create. While ethically dubious, this pursuit was in the service of larger, tangible purpose-to provide him with material for play based on-you guessed it-Dostoevsky's immortal Notes from the Underground. The architecture of the story achieved a new intricacy as it presented a play within a play within a play; it became the dramatic and visual embodiment of Shakespeare's immortal formulation, "All the world's a stage and all the men and women merely players."

    As further evidence of this truth, the story's themes of renewal and betrayal were recapitulated in the very process of making the film. During pre-production, almost the entire cast was replaced during the extended rehearsal process (see "About the Casting.") In effect they became placeholders, allowing the production to gel until the final cast could appear, fresh horses bringing with them a new springiness and spontaneity. And an additional benefit was incurred: as newcomers, strangers in a strange land, they were able to viscerally capture the lost, searching qualities of their characters.

    Meanwhile, video clips began appearing on YouTube (www.youtube.com/VMproductionsUS) and the Notes from the New World website (www.notesthemovie) concerning the mysterious disappearance of Robert Hurley, Sumin's co-writer on the film. Questions were raised about whether Hurley had engineered his own disappearance or fallen victim to foul play.

    This is partially a reflection of Sumin's irony laced humor, though the larger intent of this cyber-charade was the marketing of Notes from the New World, a la the Blair Witch Project. In this instance, however, the Robert Hurley disappearance exists in its own universe, maintaining no direct connection to the narrative of Notes from the New World. Taken together, the Hurley clips constitute a verite-style film of its own, this one eerily featuring the original, mostly departed cast members of "Notes."

    But that only underscores one of the underlying themes of "Notes"-that reality holds the possibility of endless creative interpretation. And now, with regard to the film itself, the possibility of interpretation lies with those who view it. Notes from the New World is ready for its close-up.

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