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Yuri Kupriyanov: Yakut cinema is still ahead!

Today, cinema for Yakutia is the same brand as diamonds. Why has interest in Yakut cinema outside the republic so much increased in recent years, how does it "catch" the viewer? And what else will Yakut cinema delight fans with? EastRussia asked about this the Minister of Culture and Spiritual Development of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) - Yuri Kupriyanov

In February, the “Festival of Yakut Cinema” was held in Moscow with great success; in the middle of winter, Stepan Burnashev’s film “Black Snow” was released in limited Russian distribution, then “Scarecrow” by Dmitry Davydov, the triumphant film “Kinotavr-2020”, started in March international distribution of the thriller "Icchi" by Kostas Marsan. Yakut tapes are on the short list of the Nika award, on streaming services, critics are enthusiastic about them, and the audience is surprised ...

Yuri Kupriyanov: Yakut cinema is still ahead!
Special project Yakutsk Initiative

- How did such a flower “bloom” on the permafrost, how did this unique cultural phenomenon appear?

- Nothing happens for no reason. Yakut cinema did not appear today, it was just that earlier they knew about it only in Yakutia, but now it has gone beyond the borders of the republic.

The first Yakut ribbons appeared thanks to the guys who studied at VGIK in the late 80s - early 90s. Alexey Romanov, a 1987 graduate of VGIK, shot the first short film in the Yakut language, it was his thesis. Of course, our cinema also had Soviet roots and actors who played in Russian films, for example, Spartak Fedotov, you know him from the movie "Sniper Sakha". There were films of the Soviet period that were filmed on the territory of our republic - pictures of the adventure genre: stories about human survival in harsh conditions, about the search for gold, adventures in the taiga, and so on.

shooting of the film "Scarecrow" by D. Davydov

From my point of view, the birth of Yakut cinema happened when the viewer appeared. The phenomenon of Yakut cinema is that it speaks to the audience in the Yakut language. And it turned out that the films that our Yakut guys created suddenly became successful in terms of business. We invested 1,5 million rubles, received 3 million rubles. These are normal business indicators! Films began to be made quickly, in large numbers, and they began to pay off. Various authors, trends, genres appeared, and the first successes at the box office. Stepan Poryadin made the film "Agent Mambo", which still holds the highest collection level - 16 million rubles. Dmitry Davydov appeared with us, who worked as a teacher at the Amga secondary school. In 2016, he shot Bonfire in the Wind in 14 days - and this work has won many awards at international film festivals. And the last film by Dmitry Davydov - "Scarecrow" became the winner of the Russian Kinotavr in 2020.

In 2018, I worked in Moscow, in the Permanent Mission of Yakutia, and was once invited by a group of our guys with the participation of director Eduard Novikov and Dmitry Shadrin, the head of Sakhafilm: “In the evening, let's go, there will be an important event, today you will have the opportunity to say hello to Nikita Mikhalkov ". 

So, for the first time in my life, I walked the red carpet of the Moscow Film Festival. And he greeted Mikhalkov, of course. That evening we received our first George the Victorious, this is how the festival history of Yakutia began. Nobody expected ...

- You didn't expect it either?

- I did not know! And it so happened that I had to leave for another event even before the awards were presented ... And suddenly, around midnight at 12 pm, when I was already walking home, I was informed that the main prize of the festival had been won by Eduard Novikov's film Tsar Bird. It was a phenomenon! The next day we organized a meeting of the star brigade with the head of our republic, everyone considered the prize, took a photo - we must save our first George for the history! Hopefully the first, but not the last.

The wind blows into the sails of history, they say. Here the wind blew into the sails of the history of the development of Yakut cinema. Lyubov Borisova with her film "The sun does not set over me" the next year returned from the Moscow International Film Festival with the Audience Award. But it is very important and responsible to continue. After all, you can light up, and that's it: the star lit up and left. This did not happen. And then we already began to treat our cinema as a historical phenomenon that jumped out of the Sakha Republic.

shooting of the film "Scarecrow" by D. Davydov

A lot of people have appeared who are involved in the film industry. We don't have our own Hollywood yet, of course. But today the head of the republic, his entire team, we are all working to ensure that the cinema develops further. Every year, on behalf of the head of the republic, the Ministry of Finance allocates up to 80 million rubles to support the Yakut cinema.

- Is 80 million for 2021?

- This is the order of the head of the republic. In general, the industry is supported on an annual basis. At the end of 2020, we were able to conduct a pitching for 20 million rubles, despite the limited resources in the fight against the pandemic. The decisions are made by the commission, which includes representatives of the ministry, and real participants in the film industry, distributors. We identified several priority areas: animated films, debut films, documentaries, screen versions of works of Yakut literature. We have 7 winners in these groups, including directors whose names are already known to the general public, and those who are taking their first steps. This year we are also planning to hold a pitching, the guys are waiting.

Last year, part of the money was used to host our VI Yakutsk International Film Festival. Because of the pandemic, it went online, unfortunately ... But I am sure that it will develop, there are enthusiasts - Andrei Borisov, Irina Engelis - people who have already entered their names in golden letters in the history of the formation of the Yakut cinema and the Yakut festival.

Today we are thinking with colleagues about the format of the upcoming festivals.

- Will there be a Yakut festival this year? And when?

Yes, it will take place this fall. I hope that by this period the epidemiological situation will return to normal. We still have restrictions on the occupancy of halls in cinemas.

- Now a strategy for the development of the film industry is being developed in the republic. What will be the main accents in it?

In short, the next stage is the development of rental. Both Russian and international. We will support joint film production with Russian and foreign film companies, promotion of films at Russian and international film festivals and film markets.

We also want to build and properly equip our Yakut pavilion so that people come to the Sakhafilm pavilion on an excursion, like to other studios, like to Hollywood, why not?

- Have you heard the joke about the fact that there is Hollywood in America, Bollywood in India, and Sakhawood in Yakutia?

- I am for moving to the stars, dreaming more. And the fact that the Yakut cinema took place today makes it possible to dream! I happened to visit the huge China Film hangar facility. When I was there, an action movie with Jackie Chan and Arnold Schwarzenegger was being filmed, an unforgettable experience!

In Soviet times, the phrase was often repeated about the fact that the most important of all arts for us is cinema ... But cinema, indeed, educates and shapes both us and our worldview. There are films that we love, that touch, that we watch if we are in a bad mood or are preparing for an important meeting ...

- Under the concept of "Yakut film boom" today they mean fictional author's cinema. But there is also another industry that is rapidly developing all over the world - animation. It is no secret that in Yakutia, in general, they pay great attention to the development of creative industries, in particular, to the development of the IT industry. Will the republic take any steps in this direction, or will it focus exclusively on what is already good at it?

- There are already guys who are working on this. And we have already financed the first 2 animated films through our pitching. At the end of 2021, two animated films will be ready. There is a new generation growing up, our directors and cameramen - Misha Lukachevsky, Semyon Amanatov - came to me with such a bunch of proposals. New animated films are capable of a lot! This is a different world, a different perception, a different reality, it can give us the opportunity to look not at an actor who is similar to Vysotsky, but at Vysotsky himself, for example, who will "come to life" on the basis of old films or documentaries.

I am sure that our cinema still has everything ahead. The pandemic, of course, dealt a blow to attendance, we usually have tickets for Friday or Saturday always had to be bought in advance. But now the situation is returning to normal. I think that gradually everything will return, and we have to go to film trips with family, friends, people with whom we want to discuss some thoughts.

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