The premier of The Book of the Sea by Aleksei Vakhrushev was shown in Germany. The film was shown at the 61.DOK Leipzig international festival for documentary and animation films. The film about sea hunters of the Far North-East of Russia was created with the financial support of the Russian Geographical society and the Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
Filmed in the genre of documentary animation or animadoc, it combines the conditional animated reality with the vital reality inherent in documentary cinema. According to Alexei Vakhrushev, film directors rarely dare to work in this genre, but the interest and desire to create an unusual and at the same time informative picture prevailed over doubts.
"The animadoc is a serious challenge. But our film was well prepared from the ethnographic point of view. I wanted to make a project in which the myth would be intertwined with reality. The result is an amazing symbiosis of academic science, traditional knowledge of the indigenous people of Chukotka and art", said Alexey Vakhrushev.
Work on the film began in 2013. During five years, the creative team was able to visit several expeditions in Chukotka and shoot unique documentary materials.
"It is extremely difficult to shoot in the Arctic. Here everything is against you: the weather conditions are extremely unpredictable, transport may fail at any moment and the human factor still exists. At the same time, you have a goal and you have to make a film, this is the main and most powerful incentive", the film director said.
Alexey Vakhrushev also noted that the potential of the film was already visible in the middle of the working process, and this gave him confidence that it was only the beginning. The result was a live, informative and exciting 85-minute tape.
In the frigid waters off of Russia’s Bering Strait, Chukchi hunters still seek out the giant sea mammals that sustained their people since time immemorial. Life meets myth as a new generation of hunters sets out to sea to hunt the whales, walruses, and seals that have tied them to these remote shores since the beginning of time. The contemporary story of elders Alexander and Alexei blends seamlessly with that of “the woman who gave birth to a whale” and other ancient myths.
The European audience was fascinated. According to Alexei Vakhrushev, the audience, both adults and children, watched the picture in one breath, and at the end they were able to ask him questions. They talked about the Bering Strait, extreme expedition filming and work on the animated part of the film, as well as the history and culture of the "Book of the Sea" characters – Asian Eskimos and coastal Chukchi.
During the work you do not have time to evaluate the picture properly, but when you watch it on the big screen, there is a completely different view. You see the incredible camera work, how colorful and lively animation looks in the film, how seamlessly reality and fiction are intertwined. I am sure that our film will have a long and interesting life”, shared Alexey Vakhrushev.
The premiere of The Book of the sea at 61.DOK Leipzig was the beginning of its festival tour. The film will travel the whole world for a year. It will be at festivals in Japan, Macedonia and other countries. In early December, it will be shown in the UK within the Russian Film Week in London and the Golden Unicorn Awards. The film will also be shown at the international film festival "Artdokfest" and the Golden Laurel National Award for non-fiction films and television in mid-December in Moscow. And the film will be released to the general public in February 2019.