Deep down in Siberia, there is a region called Yakutia(Republic of Sakha). It is mainly known as a place on the earth to record one of the minimum temperatures ever. Despite extreme cold and harsh conditions with very little vegetation, this country still stands tall and has the potential to give the world its best content. Yes, we are talking about the very own local industry of Yakutia, the Sakhawood.
The people who started the process of filmmaking didn’t consider it as a mainstream job for earning. But over the years, it got to strengthen and gained a status in the world. Most of the directors were experimenting with the career by making tiny tales and casting all the locals. Some of the actors had worked in the theatres, but generally, they had no experience.
Slowly the industry started getting attention from around the globe. Today Sakhawood produces about 7 to 10 feature films, including romance and fairy tales, primarily based on local beliefs. But it’s changing, and they have also started producing world-class thriller and action movies. Till now, they have received more than 80 international awards. The average cost for making a movie is around 1-2 million rubles, about 14 thousand USD.
The latest production the industry is hosting is THE ILLEGAL, directed by none other than Dmitry Davydov. This native rising star has once contributed to the foundation of the industry. He was once a school principal who had an interest in filmmaking, so he left the teaching profession and became a director.
The plot of the story revolves around a young migrant from Central Asia and his struggle to assimilate. The crew consists of 15 people that have arrived in the interiors of Yakutia. The actors also picked up the boxes of equipment’s for shipping them to the location. After a very challenging journey through the terrain of Yakutia, they finally arrived at the site for the shoot.
Dmitry Davydov has recently won the main prize at Russia’s Kinotavr film festival for his 2020 film Scarecrow, which cost him only about 1.5 million rubles.
But The Illegal has a six-time large budget than it, all thanks to the Moscow-based producer for funding.
The local directors do not work for the money itself. According to them, there are two main reasons to work in the industry. Most of them have a passion for filmmaking, and they want to bring the imagination and fantasies of Yakuts’ fairy tales and stories on the screen. Second, they want to get the world’s attention towards SAKHAWOOD and prove to them that creativity has enough power to get the most out of the bland white snow land of Siberia. They want people to understand that films can be made even in the harshest and vague conditions, like in Siberia.
According to the local directors, most of the Russian films are imitations of Hollywood film tactics. Still, the Yakutian films are just pure in their genres, having fully-fledged comedy dramas and thrillers, and they don’t hesitate in experimenting and blending the genres.
Parasite which won Oscar for best pictures in 2020 hugely inspired directors like Burnashev and Davydov . They became the first-ever foreign film to win the Oscars for best picture. Moreover they mentioned in their interview that they too wanted to take the Sakhawood to that level to get a foreign acclamation. They consider movies as a transport system that can only spread the values of their traditional cultures. Due to the extreme efforts of some significant local directors, they receive a good amount of funding from the producers, both Russians as well as native countries.