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Scarecrow movie by Yakutia’s author may be released in 2021

A Yakut movie has won the main prize of the Sochi Open Russian Film Festival, known as Kinotavr
Kinotavr Film Festival opening in Sochi Dmitry Feoktistov/TASS
Kinotavr Film Festival opening in Sochi
© Dmitry Feoktistov/TASS

YAKUTSK, September 29. /TASS/. Yakutia’s mystical drama dubbed Scarecrow, which the Sochi Open Russian Film Festival, known as Kinotavr, named the best movie, may be released in 2021, the movie’s director and scriptwriter Dmitry Davydov told TASS.

A Yakut movie has won the festival’s main prize for the first time. In another nomination - the best female role - the winner was Valentina Romanov-Chyskyyrai. It was her first role in movies. Earlier, the drama took the second line in the audience rating.

"It will come out in Russia. We continue negotiations," Davydov said. "There will be a big festival promotion. Most likely, [the movie will be released] next year."

The movie is a story of a village fool, who cures people at the expense of her own life energy. The locals avoid the wizard, but at night would come to her asking to cure them from illnesses. The woman knows the skill will kill her one day, but she continues the mission of kindness.

Movie from a village

Davydov is a teacher in a village in Yakutia. "Filmmaking is rather a hobby for me," he said. "Scarecrow is a story of a wizard who has a wonderful gift. This gift at the same time is her doom."

Due to reporters, Scarecrow is often called a horror movie. "Some reporters saw the trailer and called it a horror," Davydov said. "But it’s not correct."

The movie is Davydov’s third work after Fire in the Wind and No God but Me. He has been making films for six years. The first movie Fire in the Wind was among 33 best movies in 2017, according to the Russian version of the US Esquire. The magazine included this movie by the Yakut teacher in its rating, calling it "another miracle from the Russian backwoods."

Fire in the Wind participated in more than 20 international film festivals both in Russia and in the Republic of Korea, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Germany, Latvia, Finland, and Kazakhstan. Including the Busan Film Festival and the Munich International Film Festival. The film is on the agenda of the international film festival in Tromso. The movie No God but Me has won the Vyborg film festival - Window to Europe.

Davydov makes films in his native village, and most actors are the locals. "Only for Scarecrow we have invited an ethnic singer Valentina Romanova-Chyskyyrai. She’s not a movie actress, she works at Yakutia’s variety theater," the director said.

Davydov makes "films seemingly about everyday life in Yakutia, but the movie language, the original director is using, expands the borders of local space into the space of global human emotions," Doctor of History Yekaterina Romanova said. "Scarecrow is a certain result of Dmitry Davydov’s beginning work. And the choice of the actor for the main role - Valentina Romanova, a wonderfully talented and impressive ethnic singer, proves the director’s insight."

The phenomenon of Yakut movies

In the 2000s, the Yakut filmmaking became a notable phenomenon in Russia. The region tops the rating of cinemas in numbers of sold-out seats - 33% against 15% across the country. The region has 40 cinemas and 50 movie halls in 34 settlements. Yakut movies are often more popular than foreign movies. The region’s 49 movies have come out during recent five and a half years.

Most movies are made in the Yakut language, which is a demand from the local audience. "Yakut movies are the original visual art, unlike Asian or Scandinavian movies. They are very different. Authenticity in the movies comes from the Yakut language. The language is a code that sets the tone for movies, and it is a way to preserve the culture. Nowadays, neither literature nor theater in Yakutia have become a revelation like cinema movies <...> They have proved the relevance and professionalism, and should be funded adequately. This once again proves necessary priorities in financing the industry. After all, nowadays many films are made at the expense of their directors," the scientist said.

Davydov told us he has a few "projects," which he offers to Russian producers. However, he does not plan major changes: his movies again will be about the life in Yakut villages, about the problems people there are facing. "I am grateful to the crew, to the audience and to everyone who’s supported me," the director added.

The movie is made with the support from the Sinet Sakhavud NGO, aimed at supporting Yakut movies. The fund was established in 2019. Every year, it supports at least five film projects, where grants are between 500,000 and 2 million rubles ($ 6,400 - 25,600). The projects also receive advertising options on the region’s biggest media platform - Ykt. Thus, the fund wants to support filmmakers in Yakutia, where an average production budget is about 2-3 million rubles, the fund says on its website.