Followup to the Award-winning short Songs from the Tundra
Our story begins with Aleksandr Adukanov and his son Maxim. The Adukanovs are Eveny people, descended of Mongolians and indigenous to the Kamchatka peninsula in far eastern Siberia for centuries. When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 and their subsidies disappeared, the lives and livelihoods of the Eveny were suddenly thrown into question. The Eveny had kept large herds of reindeer at the base of the volcano range that they live beneath, but when the money dried up, this ancestral pastoral practice went with it.
As capitalist fever spread east — Aleksandr, out of necessity, and the fear of obsolescence for the remote Eveny villages, grew a business around sustaining his culture through shipping and tourism. He purchased aging tanks on the cheap from the military to move people and supplies over the taiga where once a network of expensive Soviet helicopters delivered goods and living supplies. Eventually he accrued enough money to purchase 500 reindeer and reinstated the pastime he and his ancestors had grown up with — dreaming that one day it could become an attraction to see atop a tank, and a sustainable livelihood. His son, Maxim, is approaching the land from a scientific perspective — as a student of volcanology. He hopes to gain an intimate and scientific access to the volcanic environment of Kamchatka that is laden with cultural, and spiritual meaning from his upbringing.
As father and son grapple with the past — a cultural legacy, and the questions and threats of the present and future — they come into conflict over how to engage with an environment that neither produced, nor sustains them, but to which they are inextricably linked. The film explores the universal complexity of family ties, the role of indigenous cultures in large nation states, the relation of science and cultural tradition, and the long, complicated aftershocks of the end of the Soviet Union.
You can follow our progress live on the film's blog, Twitter, and Facebook! This is a completely independent effort to make a film in one of the most remote places in the world. Grants have made going to Kamchatka possible, but your support helps get the equipment to share these incredible stories and images with you. If you'd like to donate, all donations are tax-deductible through our fiscal sponsor, Documentary Educational Resources. Visit DER.org and Kickstarter to find out more.
Alexander Berman is a director, cinematographer, and screenwriter who works in film and video. He graduated Harvard University's Visual and Environmental Studies program in 2010, where he made "Songs from the Tundra". It is a short musical documentary about tank-riding reindeer herders in Siberia that premiered at IDFA 2009. He is currently a 2010-11 Fulbright Scholar to Russia.
Elizabeth Rose graduated from Harvard in 2009 in English. She is a photographer, and filmmaker. She came to documentary by way of the Harvard Sensory Ethnography Lab where she made a short documentary about a small town in the Eastern Townships of Quebec, "Quiet Revolutions / Révolutions Tranquille" in 2009. Since graduating she has worked in film development and production in Los Angeles and Cambridge, MA.
Benjamin Berman studies computer science and animation at Harvard University. His work includes directing animation in "The Anomaly", where he collaborated with the Astrophysical Sciences Center at the University of Chicago to incorporate supernova simulations into artwork. Interested in the intersection of technology and aesthetics, he develops web, mobile device, and interactive digital art.
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