We had the good fortune of connecting with Alice Biletska and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Alice, why did you pursue a creative career?
Ukraine in the 1990’s was one of the last places you would ever want to go. Anarchy in it’s purest form led to the state where there were no money, no values and no future. But if you got there, you would not want to leave. The romance of the era was there, on each step. It was surreal, deeply dramatic and hard to resist. There was no cinema on the screens, but it was happening every day on the streets. The air was breathing with stories and it became the only air I ever want to breathe. So since I was 5 I knew that I want to be a filmmaker. Nevertheless, when it finally came time to go to university, my dad said that I will be a prostitute if I go to film industry. I did not feel like it, plus I started doubting everything in my life, so I took a couple of safe turns left. Firstly, it was the faculty of Economics, then Art History department, alongside with dozens of different jobs. But when the war started in Ukraine and I realized that if I die tomorrow and have not done one single film, then what’s the point of all of this. So I opened my drawer with the scripts that I was writing all this time and started directing. In couple of years I realized that I need to learn the craft of directing and I need to learn it from the best. So I applied to AFI Conservatory and surprisingly got in. So answering your question, I pursued this career, because I could not not to. This is my place in this world.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I tell stories about people who find themselves in toxic, wicked, destructive relationship with their partners or society, but who successfully get out of it, unraveling their true raw, unapologetic, strong nature full of love and compassion. I’m interested in exploring both light and dark parts of human nature, it’s mysticism and romanticism. I believe that we are all one, I believe in the power of human spirit and miraculous power of love. And I believe that art has a power to change the narrative and awaken people. As any other creative person, I met and continue meeting a lot of challenges along my way. But the biggest one is fear. Fear of the instability and financial uncertainty. Especially when you are an international student graduating from a film school into a world of pandemic. What is helping me? Meditating and the book “The power of now”. There are a lot of life-changing ideas in that book, but if I had to narrow it down to the most essential ideas, I would choose these ones: “Life is a mirror of your inner world. If you want to change it, start it by changing the way you think”; “Anxiety and stress comes out of your mind always being in the past or in the future, never in the present. Embrace the power of now”, “Like attracts like”.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
LA is such an interesting place, I’m still trying to figure it out. But I know for sure why I love it: for the nature, incredible people, fantastic opportunities and it’s energy. If I had my friend coming and was asked to show him around, at first I would apologize. Because most of my time in LA I spent at AFI, on film sets, in bars (crying how tired and happy I am). So I would be able to be a good guide only for one day in a non-Covid world. 7.30 – 9: yoga class and meditation guided by me on the rooftop of my house. 9 – 10: face yoga and then changing for the day. Soundtrack – humming jazz. 10 – 11: breakfast at Home, on Hillhirst. 11 – 12: ride to Topanga beach, listening to the Apparat. 12 – 16: reading, hiking, swimming, sleeping, drinking champagne, eating mango on the beach 17 – 18: martini and changing to evening outfits. 19 – 21: dinner with friends at their place 21 – 23: dancing in some downtown bar.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My parents and my cousin are definitely the people who are responsible not only for my art obsession, but also for my aspirations for an outstanding life. Every summer we would spend in our tiny funny cottage house outside the city and there my mom used to give us her own version of education: we had exams on art history; we had to write plays and direct them for the public; we had to read ton of books and write essays about them etc. In a way, my parents were like a Ukrainian version of Captain Fantastic before he even existed. When we grew up, me and my cousin had an incredible group of artists friends in Kharkiv: poets, writers, painters, musicians, actors etc. It was such an inspiring group of people, we pushed each other in our art explorations, questioned reality, life and tried to find a meaning of it all. Later on in my life I was blessed to find amazing people in different places, but I believe it’s those people who you meet when you are a kid or when you are very, who influence and help to shape your world view the most. In terms of books, there are couple memoirs that I come back to every time when I think that it’s too hard: Isadora Dunkan “My life”, Patti Smith “Just kids” and Leni Riefenstahl “Memoirs”. Those ladies are so raw, fearless, unapologetic. They lived absolutely incredible lives, proven with their own example that everything is possible.