Russian-born Maxim Bessmertny spent the ages of 4 to 14 in Macau, and it was those formative years there that has shaped his love affair with the city.
In his graduation short film ‘Tricycle Thief’, Macau comes alive in a drama about a heist gone wrong. A desperate tricycle driver succumbs to his greed when he meets a mysterious customer with a suitcase filled with money. The film was screened at the prestigious Toronto International Film Festival and won a 2015 Kodak Gold Award.
We spoke to Maxim about his labour of love that was inspired by Martin Scorsese’s ‘Taxi Driver’, and ‘The Third Man’, and why he says “it was thrilling to relearn the soul of the city I call home.”
“Macau has a very old 16th century feel, with both Portuguese and Chinese influences. It has the same atmosphere that a street in Rome would have. It’s very rare. The city has kept its charm apart from the city ruins that have been preserved.”
Capturing a slice of history
The tricycle drivers station is right in front of Casino Lisboa at Avenida de Lisboa. This is where the actual station is nowadays and has been for over 40 years!
Who are these tricycle drivers?
“Some (drivers) do it because they it’s a form of physical activity, some Chinese nationals do it as a part time job because it pays well. Others do (as an upgrade) from when they started pulling rickshaws in their youth. The youngest tricycle driver I met was 47 years old.”
On the unexpected comedy in the tense face-off
“In real life, whenever you have a serious situation, there’s always some idiocy or levity attached to it. I wanted dramatic irony, hence the use of chopsticks instead of a knife in the climactic scene.”
What comes next for him
“I just finished my thesis film which is a short film about a fisherman who runs into a businessman and his concubine on a speedboat. I’m trying to do a feature independent film as well in Macau about 4 guys who grew up together in Macau and have completely lost themselves.”
For more information, visit Maxim’s website here.