Ohio Interviews: Dima Dubson

Photo by OE Intern Grace Halio
Photo by OE Intern Grace Halio

Interview by Mariam Nasrullah

Dima Dubson is best known as the director of the 2012 film, How to Act Bad, a documentary of singer-songwriter Adam Green, who co-founded the indie rock band, The Moldy Peaches. Dubson is currently in the process of editing a new film with Green called Adam Green’s Aladdin.

I understand that you have a new project called Aladdin coming out, starring Adam Green, who was also in your film How to Act Bad. Can you tell me more about the film? What can audiences expect? Who else will be starring in the movie?

The film is called Adam Green’s Aladdin and it’s a retelling of the famous folk tale using mostly cardboard, papier-mâché and a lot of paint. In addition to playing the role of Aladdin, Adam wrote and directed the film and I helped him make it. It’s an ultra-low-budget instant cult classic foreign art-house blockbuster. The cast includes Jack Dishel, Macaulay Culkin, Natasha Lyonne, Alia Shawkat, Francesco Clemente and many other luminaries.

How did directing How to Act Bad affect you when working on Aladdin?

They are two very different collaborations but I think the trust in each other that we’ve developed over the years of working together is helpful in navigating unchartered waters.

What type of relationship do you have with Adam Green after working with him so intensely?

Strictly platonic.

What was the most exciting aspect about working on Aladdin?

We filmed part of the movie on top of a Swiss Alp and I got to drive one of our production cars up and down treacherous mountain roads. At one point we were eating barley soup next to an Italian-speaking man with a rifle who was sporting a Hitler mustache. Alpine radio was playing Stan Ridgway’s European hit “Camouflage” and, like the song’s protagonist, we were protected by a friendly spirit and survived.

I understand that you emigrated to the US from Belarus when you were young. Has your move from Belarus affected your work somehow?

Surely. I’m as much a product of my environment as anyone else. And, not unlike any good Soviet citizen, I believe that Capitalism should be dismantled. At the same time, having grown up on the other side of the curtain, I appreciate the wider field of possibilities present in such a city as New York and feel lucky to be living and working here.

In general, where do you draw inspiration from?

It used to be girls I was in love with. Now I’m not sure.

What are some short films/filmmakers that you are currently enjoying?

I rarely watch short films. But I enjoyed making this one.

Mariam Nasrullah is an intern at Ohio Edit.