Yakutia (Sakha) is the coldest region in Russia, one of its most remote and sparsely populated territories. It is well known first and foremost for its natural resources and extreme temperatures going as low as -50 to -60°C. More recently, however, Yakutia has been surprising the world with something other than diamonds, gold, and severe climate, namely a burgeoning authentic cinema industry.
Sakhafilm, the studio that gave an impulse to cinematic development in the region, was founded in 1992, right after the dissolution of the USSR. Over a dozen feature films, both professional and amateur – from full-scale epics to low-budget horror movies based on local legends and beliefs – are in production now. Over the last decade, between 7 and 15 films have been released annually. Some of them gross more at the box office than Hollywood blockbusters, while some are displayed at international festivals, all in spite of the budgets being modest even by Russian standards with an average of around two million rubles per film.
Alexey Vasiliev is a Russian documentary photographer.
© Alexey Vasiliev