New East Photo Prize 2020 – Winner 

The Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) is one of the most remote regions from the center of Russia. The region is known for mineral deposits and extremely low temperatures -60 Celsius degrees below zero. However, Yakutia is famous not only for the severe climate and gold which is mined here, but also for the cinema. Yakut films participate in international festivals in Europe and Asia, receive awards, which are already more than 80. Yakut Hollywood is called «Sakhawood». People with different experiences are engaged in filmmaking. Most directors have no special education, for some of them directing is not the main way to earn money. Actors are people who work in the theater, or people who have never acted in a movie before. About 7-10 feature length films are shot here per year, from romantic comedies to fairy tales, based on local legends and beliefs. Sometimes Yakut movies have better box office than world blockbusters. Meanwhile, the movie in Yakutia is shot for little money even by the most modest Russian standards, on average, the production of the film costs 1-2 million rubles. Despite this, the Yakut filmmakers have ambitious plans — to win the audience in Russia, and then in the world.

Playground in Yakutsk. Winters in Yakutia are long, the snow here does not melt for 5-6 months. For majority residents of the capital, Yakutsk, one of the favorite leisure activities is a visiting of the cinema in such a harsh period of a year.

Actor in the film Vasily Sleptsov is vaping during breaks between takes. Vasily says: “I am often invited to play a particular role in a film, but I would like to play a full-fledged role of some negative character. I think my appearance could harmoniously fit into a gloomy image.” horror film “The Cursed Land” directed by Stepan Burnashev,

The crew is resting after a shift at the base, in the building of the club Magaras village, Gornyi ulus, where the summer shooting of the cult Yakut horror “The Cursed Land” (1996 release) were continued.

Paws from the costume of the mythical creature living in the swamps, – dulgancha. Costumes were sewn specially for the film “The Old Beyberikeen” by local designers, there were sewn about 30 pieces in total.

A young couple Ivan and Inna are watching TV at home. There are several Yakut TV channels with 24/7 broadcasting in Yakutia: “The National Broadcasting Company-Sakha”, “Yakutia-24”, “Mammoth”. They broadcast news, entertainment, sports, music, etc.

The second part shooting of the first in the history of Yakut fairy tale film based on the Yakut folk tale “The Old Beyberikeen With Five Cows.” The film’s director Konstantin Timofeev says: “I want to present this film to all Yakut children. Our generation grew up on Russian fairy tales. I hope this picture will become an impulse and motivation for local directors to start shooting tapes about our Yakut fairy tales!”

Shooting melee of the main positive characters in fairy tale “The Old Beyberikeen” with the abaahy evil spirit.

An actress of the Sakha theater Isabella Nikolaeva in the dormitory is preparing to be shot in the historical comedy “Hasty” based on the classic drama of the same name Yakut writer Nikolai Neustroev. Isabella-honored artist of Russia and Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), on stage since 1974.

Stepan Petrov, 74 years old, became celebrity not only in Yakutia, but also in Russia after starring in two yakut films ‘The Lord Eagle’ (2018) and ‘The Sun Does Not Set Over Me’ (2019). He’s been featured in newspapers, documentaries and commercials. Stepan is not professional actor, plays in the folk theater of the small village Kerdem, where he lives with his wife.

Stepan (on the left) drinks cognac at home with screenwriter Semyon Ermolaev (on the middle) and Eduard Novikov (on the right), the creators of the feature film “The Lord Eagle”, which won the Grand Prix of the Moscow International Film festival in 2018. This is a story about an old man and his wife, who sheltered an eagle, a sacred bird in the Yakut culture.

Group photo of residents of the Magarasy village, who participated in the crowd in the mystical drama “The Cursed Land”. As a rule, the villagers are willing to participate in the filming of the film, because it brightens up their rural everyday life and has a positive effect on the cohesion of the inhabitants of a small village.

The shooting of mystical drama “The Cursed Land”. In the photo-Afanasy Karamzin. Afanasy received his professional education at the prestigious University of the country, the Higher theater school M. S. Shchepkin, but did not build a career as an actor. He works as the head of the theatrical children’s club in his native village Borogontsy, Ust-Aldansky ulus.

The director of the drama “Khara Khaar” (“Black Snow”) Stepan Burnashev (on the right) rehearses the upcoming scene with the performer of the main role in the film Fedot Lvov. Stepan says: “This picture is not only about the ordeals that lot of ordinary residents of the North have to overcome, but also about the problems of modern society, in which people’s relationships deteriorate due to the desire to earn more money, constant competition with each other, one can not survive in the North with this approach towards life.”

Shooting drama of Stepan Burnashev “Khara Khaar” (“Black Snow”) about a trucker whose hand got stuck under the KAMAZ, when he tried to change the wheel. Shooting took place in the winter in March, at nights, when the temperature dropped to-40 degrees Celsius.

Alexey Vasilyev was born in 1985 in the coldest region of Russia — Yakutia, where the temperature can reach the grade mark -60 C°. In 2008 graduated from the philological faculty of the Yakut state University. From 2010 to 2019 worked in the children’s republican newspaper «The Youth of the North». Since 2017 a member of the Russian Union of photographers. In 2018 entered the school of modern photography in St. Petersburg «Dokdokdok». Features of his work have been published in the The Guardian, National Geographic, National Geographic (Russia), Wired, Calvert Journal, Meduza, It’s Nice That, Takie Dela (Russia), (Russia), LensCulture, MoscowTimes, MyModernMet and etc. In his documentary works he focuses on the daily life research of people in the far North and their national identity in the global world.

Copyright © Alexey Vasilyev, all rights reserved

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