Film Train Crossed the Sakhalin Island

Film Train Crossed the Sakhalin Island August 4, 2016

Upon the initiative of the Sakhalin region Ministry of Culture and Archiving, in the lead-up to the VI Sakhalin International Film Festival "On the Edge", from July 17 till July 27 "Film Train. Sakhalin" crossed the island from Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk to Nogliki with stops in Poronaysk and Tymovskoye and calling at Aleksandrovsk-Sakhalinsky, Okha, and Uglegorsk.

The project organizers are the Board of the Sakhalin International Film Festival "On the Edge" in association with the Youth Center of the Russian Filmmakers’ Union, "Island Studio" and the Passenger Railway Carrier "Sakhalin".

While traveling, a united production crew has been making a documentary video about modern life of Sakhalin islanders, which is going to become an anthology film dedicated to the 70th anniversary of the Sakhalin Region foundation. The anthology film will include six short films about oil extraction, coal, miners, seals and aboriginal Nivkhs, made by different production teams in several various places of the island.

Ilya Shamazov, the Head of “European-Asian” workshop affiliated with State Autonomous Culture Organization "Sakhalin Cinema Union" and the Curator of this project, says:

'The mass media is always keen to know the figures. How many people participated in shooting? How many of them are from Moscow, were there many local filmmakers? I lost count a while ago and admitted for myself that I couldn't count them so easily. Almost in every settlement where our filmmakers shot, local people engaged themselves in the process, helped us a lot, gave us rides, when it was necessary, and left their own things undone to shoot with us.

I really hope that everybody who was touched by our shooting process will be able to see the anthology film, when it is ready. We will make every possible effort to show it to the whole island."

The students of and graduates from the All-Russian State Institute of Cinematography, as well as young filmmakers of Sakhalin Island participated in the project.

Maksim Lukyanets, the Director, student of All-Russian State Institute of Cinematography (S. S. Miroshnichenko workshop) and S. L. Muzychenko, representing a film team in Okha, Lebedinskoye Oil Field:

"The trip is over! I say this rather joyfully, as I usually fathom the experience I've got after an adventure or an ordeal is over. Concerning the adventures, we had: the unkind northern nature, new people, true and strong, and, of course shooting itself! Concerning the ordeal: the unkind northern nature, new people, true and strong, and, of course shooting itself!

This experience of working in an expedition trip is absolutely new to me. Furthermore, we were shooting all the time. Non-stop. This is very interesting, as you not only observe, but you also experience everything you see on the screen. Will it be a success or a total failure: it is going to be judged by the audience, when the film is ready. And I would like to thank Yulia Sergina (Director) and Vlad Bakhanovich (Cameraman) for sticking together and supporting me.

Film train is a perfect practical experience! It would be nice if many regions and cities organize such projects. In fact, this form of film-making has a great potential, not limited by the examination of one particular region."

Olga Komarevtseva, the Director (working with Sound Designer Anastasia Zhdanova and Cameraman Vasily Lyaporov):

"This whole project was like cape Terpeniya (Russian for Endurance cape), named after a place, where a character of one of our short stories lives. We spent many hours in a boat and traveling off-road. I am afraid of heights. But when you need to shoot a good sequence, your body forgets all the fears and finds the unknown reserves of endurance. We climbed a BelAZ (giant haul truck), I looked down—as if I were on a third floor—and pull myself up. I even left the cabin and walked around this monstrous truck with a camera in my hands, giving up on my fear. The most important then was just a good shot. Only when it was time to get off, I felt dizziness. What else? I was amazed by seals: how they dived and somersaulted. And when we started the engine to leave, one of them hissed. We shot 18 hours non-stop in an open-cast coal mine. In the end on that day our bodies were all gray, and two days later I was all spotted: it turned out, that I'm allergic. That is the cost of out production... And there is one thing I learned during this project: it is far from easy to work with a team you met just couple of minutes ago.

The island itself impressed like nothing before. And left a light taste of despair. In general, my impressions are very controversial."

Albert Khabibrakhmanov, the Producer of the project and of the Filmmakers Union Youth Center:

"One can call Sakhalin a cinematic place. One can, and even should, develop this island from the cinematographic point of view, because both its nature and its people, straight and sincere, allow doing that."

The first showing of the anthology film, which will become the result of this project and on the editing of which the participants are already working, with Sergey Moroshnichenko, a famous Director and Professor of All-Russia State Institute of Cinematography, being its artistic administrator, will take place within the "On the Edge" Film Festival in September of 2016. Also, the anthology film will be shown on one of the Russian TV channels. Besides, it is expected that the film will participate in leading Russian and international film festivals.

Angelina Golikova, the Director, the Executive Producer of "Island Studio", the Instructor in All-Russian State Institute of Cinematography (department of Documentary Directing), and the Art Director of the project: "The unique character of this project is that it involved not only visiting filmmakers who saw Sakhalin for the first time and looked at it with a fresh eye, by also local cameraman and film directors. They were shooting together and exchanged not only their impressions, but, and it is more important, also with their professional experience. There is no professional cinematographic education in the region, and our students and graduates were able to share their documentary shooting skills.

The distance, covered by the participants by train, was only a small part of their travel: the shooting points were in the opposite sides of the island, and shooting crew members got there by different means of transport, including off-road."

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