I’m usually too lazy to submit my work to festivals, I hate all the paper work, but I have a Russian colleague living in the same city who has pushed me to submit to the same festivals that she’s going to attend. This time it was the “To Save and Preserve” ecological film festival in Khanty-Mansiysk in Russia. It is basically a festival for short, or 20-30 min films, so the films that I submitted were a bit too long. Fly Fishing in Swedish Lapland was 43 minutes and The Last Generation? 1,5 hours. The second film was obviously way too long, but as long as the organizers asked me to submit it anyway, I did.
Khanty-Mansiysk is the capital of Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug in Siberia, a city with 95000 people. It is situated on a confluence where the rivers Irtysh and Ob meet. The surrounding area is very wet with rivers, lakes, deltas and marsh lands. Click here for a map of the area.
According to Wikipedia, a 280-meter skyscraper was planned to be built in the city, but today, nine years after the English architect Norman Foster got the job to build it, I couldn’t see any signs of it. Biathlon World Cup competitions are held there every year and there seems to be many biathlon stars coming from Khanty-Mansi judging from the posters outside the skiing stadium.
The Hotel was right by the skiing stadium and a short walking distance from the city. Khanty-Mansiysk is divided into two parts with a hill/park between. The hotel was in the middle, on the hill.
All the film festivals that I have visited so far have had several films playing at the same time in different locations and sometimes it has meant some tough decisions. In Khanty-Mansiysk you didn’t have that problem. There was only one thing happening at a time. One schedule to follow. A couple of films to see every day, some workshops and discussions, and two ours of activities/performances.
I tried some local specialities, like frozen raw fish and cranberry vodka.
One of the films was dropped from the schedule and I got a chance to show our film instead in that slot. The film was in Swedish with English subtitles, and live translated into Russian. Three languages at the same time was a bit hard.
On the final day, at the prize ceremony, I was surprised to see our film as one of the three nominated to win the category “ecological traveling”. And even more so when the winner was announced and I found myself on the stage with the first prize giving a speech to the audience and all the TV-channels. You can watch it here. Fast forward to 29:00.
I returned by train and it took 4 days to reach Helsinki. Khanty-Mansiysk doesn’t have a railway station so the trip started with a 3 hour buss drive to Putyak. The road wasn’t great. I was happy I didn’t party too hard, and too late the night before. I had bought tickets in the 3rd class, and it was okay, but the space on the top berth was a little too tight. It was impossible to sit and it was too short. I spent a lot of time sitting in the restaurant coach instead. It didn’t seem to be a very popular thing to do. Most of the time I was the only person sitting there.
All in all, it was a great experience. I was taken well care of by the organizers, got a chance to visit a place that I would probably never go to otherwise, and met some people that I might get in contact with later. And I won a first prize!
In Moscow I visited GUM. A huge department store right by the Red Square. Three arcades in three stories, mostly selling brand name clothes and shoes.