Q&A with Alena Lodkina on March 30 and April 1

In the mesmeric follow-up to her debut, Strange Colours, Russian-born, Melbourne-raised filmmaker Alena Lodkina casts an enigmatic spell of a movie centered around a film student named Eva (Nathalie Morris) and her fragmenting interior world. While working on a deeply personal school project connected to her Russian heritage, Eva meets the mercurial Mia (Hannah Lynch), a performance artist who runs hot and cold, and with whom she develops a close bond bordering on obsession. As Eva is drawn into Mia’s orbit, she comes increasingly to question her sense of reality, while at the same time making decisions about her own romantic, creative, and professional lives. Alternately whimsical and unsettling, Petrol is an entirely original vision, a film of moods as fluctuating as the weather, and a magical coming-of-age story that is also perhaps the tale of a haunting.

What made you first want to be a director?
Alena LodkinaMy first dream as a kid was to be a sculptor, and shortly after I wanted to be a theatre director, so perhaps it has something to do with a desire to give things shape.

Was there a film or director you were inspired by or continue to be inspired by?
My mum’s favourite film Mirror by Andrei Tarkovsky inspired me as a teenager with its free and mysterious beauty and remains a source of enchantment

In your own words, tell us about your film. What should audiences know?
My film tells a story of a friendship between two young women and is about the nature of fascination. My aim was to create a collage of youthful vulnerability in present-day Australia. The title is lateral and to me brings to mind that ubiquitous feature of cities, a pool of petrol spilled on asphalt.  

What does it mean to you to show your film at New Directors/New Films?
It is really a dream.

What was the biggest lesson you learned during the making of your film?
To trust instinct and fate.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Though not given to me personally, my favorite advice is from Jean Renoir when he says that people who focus on the end result will never be happy, and that he is only concerned with the process. I love how cheerful he is!

What else do you enjoy doing outside of filmmaking?
Reading, cooking, eavesdropping and ordinary little pleasures of days.

What’s a film you saw recently that you enjoyed?
Last night I rewatched Mitchell Leisen’s Midnight which always puts me in a good mood.