New Film From Yamal on Themes of Loss and Identity

April 21, 2010 • Philip BurgessBlog

A film based on the Yamal Peninsula (with a strong connection to reindeer husbandry) PUDANA – LAST OF LINE was recently released to acclaim at the directed by the husband-and-wife pairing of Markku Lehmuskallio and Anastasia Lapsui, has been awarded the Grand Jury Award for the best fiction feature film at the 32nd Festival International de Films de Femmes in Créteil in France. This is the second time that Lapsui and Lehmuskallio have carried off this award from Créteil – in 2000 their film Seitsemän laulua tundralta (“Seven Songs from the Tundra”) won the same prize. The film has just returned from a release tour of several villages on the Yamal Peninsula.

PUDANA – LAST OF THE LINE is a story of change, upbringing and deprivation of identity. The film takes place in the Yamal Peninsula during Soviet times and is based on a true story set in Director Anastasia Lapsui’s childhood surroundings. A little Nenets girl Neko is taken against her will from her home chum (teepee) to a boarding school in a remote Russian village. Forced to adapt to a foreign culture and new customs, Neko rebels against Sovietisation and gets bullied by her schoolmates and picked on by her teachers. After several conflicts Neko decides to flee together with her Nenets school mate hoping to get back to her reindeer herding family on the tundra. However, the children’s flight in  is short-lived and the return to the boarding school and their new Russian life is inevitable.

The story is told as old Neko’s, or now Nadja’s, memory. Now, after long and full life, she recalls the moment that ended her childhood and started her life as a part of the other society. But something important has changed for good; Neko, the last of her family, has grown away from her original roots and lost her skill to sustain the ancient traditions of her family.

Source: Helsingin Sanomat

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