Filmmaker: At the start of Cargo 200, it says the movie is based on real events. How did you find out about these events, and how closely do you stick to the truth?
Balabanov: In 1983 I served in the army in transport aviation and we were attached to the landing force division who went to Afghanistan and came from there. I flew to Afghanistan myself. We took soldiers there and also brought dead bodies back. I lived in the barracks with a man who had a lot of war experience and he told me a lot of stories. For example that dead bodies very often disappeared and there was no real control about their transportation back home. That is how the image of the stolen dead soldier's body came to my mind.
In 1984 when I came back from the army I started working at Sverdlovsk Film Studios as a
director's assistant and I was assigned to the film crew of the film The Way to the Sunrise about Russia conquering Alaska. I traveled through a big part of Russia looking for locations. I met a lot of Yakut people. Germans. I lived with them, listened to their stories. There is a lot of my imagination in the film but real stories are the base of the film.
Filmmaker: How personal is this film to you? What are your recollections of that period of the 1980s influenced the film? How much did they creep into the film?
Balabanov: In 1984 it was the end of Soviet Union: Chernenko, the old sick leader died, Gorbachev came to power, new era started. The film is very personal. I wanted to tell the story which I was the witness of.