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Daughter of Viktor Merezhko: “After a stroke, my father had no friends and faithful comrades. No one came to the wake”

Photo from the family archive of Maria Merezhko

Photo from the family archive of Maria Merezhko

Viktor Merezhko did not live up to the round date only six months. He died on January 30 from the effects of the coronavirus.

With his daughter Maria Merezhko we remembered her father on the eve of his birthday. The conversation was not very funny. And it’s not just the pain of loss, which is still very strong.

“Immediately after my father left, my brother and I were in a state of shock,” recalls Maria. – Father, Vanya and I were very close, such true friends, we called up several times a day. They supported each other very much, especially after my mother left. Now there was no father … When the shock passed, the realization of the loss came. Vanya and I still can’t watch daddy’s films. We do not find the moral strength to turn on his work laptop. His archives are there, but so far his hands have not reached them. More precisely – hands drop as soon as I approach my father’s computer. It’s still very painful and hard.

– Perhaps there are some unfinished scripts in the computer?

– My father really has unfinished scripts, there are applications. There have already been precedents when unscrupulous producers began to “pull” dad’s scripts, appropriating them. We will definitely deal with all this as soon as we enter into the inheritance with my brother. Of course, we will be happy if films, remakes, and performances are made according to father’s scripts. The main thing is that dad is not forgotten.

– Viktor Merezhko was a very active person, always in sight. Festivals, film awards – he is in the forefront. But in recent years, it seems to have faded into the shadows. Perhaps that is why almost no one from his fellow filmmakers came to say goodbye to him. Didn’t that strike you as odd?

– Not just weird. I was unpleasantly struck that my father had no friends and faithful comrades left. He felt their absence in recent years. He did not complain, but sometimes the conversation broke through. He was lonely. And it’s not that many have gone to another world.

oblivion has begun after my father’s stroke (in September 2017 – Ed.). It is difficult to describe in words the efforts that dad made to recover from his illness. He did exercises daily, as recommended by the doctors, on willpower. He tried very hard, sometimes he was offended by my brother and me for showing excessive care: “Stop humiliating me, I am not disabled,” he said. Neglect on the part of colleagues appeared, it seems to me, just then. In our country, age, illness is a sentence.

photo from the family archive of Maria Merezhko

photo from the family archive of Maria Merezhko

– Alas, you are right. On January 30, the artist Leonid Kuravlev left on the same day as your father. It is hard to imagine a more popular favorite. He, too, had been ill in recent years, and did not appear anywhere. And also none of the colleagues came to say goodbye to him …

– And at parting with his father, which took place in the Cinema House, there was almost no one, except for the faithful friend of the actress Lyudmila Zaitseva. Nikas Safronov carried his father’s portrait in front of the cameras. Was on duty deputy Yevgeny Gerasimov. There was a father’s friend producer Dmitry Antonov and that’s it. I will say more: no one came to the wake, which is not at all in tradition. People always gather at such events. We arranged a commemoration at the Cinema House, which dad loved very much. Everyone is comfortable there. But we were sitting at the table together with my brother. And for a long time they could not understand what was the matter, where were the colleagues who had been coming to our house for many years? .. We would have been sitting at the laid table if random people who usually go to public farewells had not started to sit down to us.

– Many of Viktor Merezhko’s peers are no longer alive. Maybe that’s why it happened…

– You know, this is a very convenient explanation, they say, all the old people are dead. Just as conveniently, everything is attributed to the fear of contracting covid. But the next day we saw on TV many of my father’s acquaintances: they all came to some social event.

In the 80s and 90s, dad was in favor. He was the secretary of the Union of Cinematographers of Russia, one of the founders of the Kinoshock festival in Anapa and the first president of the Nika film award. In the 2000s, he was chairman of the board of the House of Cinema. He stood at the origins of the TV-6 channel. It was his idea, which he implemented together with Eduard Sagalaev. That’s when everyone needed a father.

– And how many films were shot according to Viktor Merezhko’s scripts. Many of them were included in the domestic golden film fund: “Kin”, “Flights in a dream and in reality”, “Hello and goodbye”, “Leaving – go away” … And how many actors starred in them, most of them, thank God, are alive …

“I don’t even know how to explain such neglect of my father. Is it human laziness, a short memory or envy, a desire to kick a dead lion? Don’t know..

For ten years, dad, overcoming obstacles and difficulties, sought to have a memorial plaque hung on the house where Georgy Yumatov lived (Chernyakhovsky Street, 5). Yes, my father was friends with Uncle Zhora. But not only in this matter. Georgy Alexandrovich deserved this memory, he is a great Russian artist, a front-line soldier. My father wrote letters, went to the authorities. Then Vasily Semyonovich Lanovoy joined. Together they began to write and travel. And finally achieved. But Vasily Semenovich died a year and a half ago (Lanovoy died of covid in January 2021 – Ed.). And dad did not live to see the opening a few months. The memorial plaque was made from a photograph that hangs in my apartment. In the photo, Uncle Zhora is standing on the balcony, young and happy…

The board was opened in May. Nobody invited me or my brother to the grand opening. I found out about this by accident. And, having learned, she ran to put up announcements on the house so that people who knew and remembered Georgy Alexandrovich would come. Of course, not a word about dad at the opening. Only actress Larisa Luzhina thanked her father, and Alina Pokrovskaya mentioned him in passing. The rest of the “organizers” appropriated the laurels. You will now say: this is my heightened sense of resentment against the background of the loss. Perhaps, but I was really offended to tears.

– July 30 marks six months since Viktor Ivanovich passed away. Was the issue with the inheritance between you and brother Ivan resolved peacefully?

– According to today’s criteria, dad was not a rich man. There was a period when we lived very modestly, one might say, we were poor in the 90s. But then things got better. In Moscow, my father had a studio, which he bought from Sergei Mikhalkov back in the 80s. This studio is located under the roof of the house where our family lived in the “treshka”. There is also a small two-room apartment in St. Petersburg, where dad moved about ten years ago.

We decided not to touch anything for now. Everything remained as it was with him. We can’t even bring ourselves to turn on his computer. For us, dad is alive. We did not expect how hard his departure would be for us. We try to support each other with Vanya.

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