BASEES Annual Conference 2022

Cinematic Landscapes and Indigenous Identity in the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), Russia

Fri8  Apr04:00pm(20 mins)


Adelaide McGinity-Peebles


The film industry of the Sakha Republic in Russia, which was first established in 1992, has received significant acclaim in recent years. Since 2016, Sakha filmmaking has garnered numerous international and national plaudits on the film festival circuit, including, most recently, the Grand Prize at Russia’s Kinotavr Film Festival in 2020 for Dmitrii Davydov’s Pugalo (Scarecrow). This paper explores the phenomenon of Sakha cinema, focusing on three lauded examples of recent Sakha filmmaking: 24 Snega (24 Snow, 2016); Koster na vetru (The Bonfire, 2016); and Toyon Kyyl (The Lord Eagle, 2018). It examines how these films (a documentary and two “art house” feature films respectively) articulate the relationship between the Sakha people and the environments which they inhabit. Since Sakha film is also enormously popular and supported in the Republic itself, using these examples, this paper analyses how Sakha film is used to preserve and promote the spiritual beliefs, traditions, and histories of the Sakha people, both at home and abroad. This is against a context in which traditional Sakha practices have been threatened, in part due to historic Russification and colonisation and more recently due to the pressures of urbanisation and out-migration among the younger generation of Sakha.