Thursday, October 23, 2014

Window on Eurasia: New Russian Film about Northern Peoples’ Rising against Soviet Power in the 1930s Wins Prize in Rome

Paul Goble


            Staunton, October 23 – Aleksey Fedorchenko, a Yekaterinburg director, was awarded the Marcus Aurelius of the Future prize by the Rome Film Festival today for his new move, “Angels of the Revolution,” which tells the story of the rising in the early 1930s  of two numerically small peoples of the North, the Khanty and Nentsy, against Soviet power.


            The director said that the movie, entirely filmed in Khanty-Mansiisk and based on actual events documented at the Institute of Finno-Ugric Studies, has “no negative heroes: they are all positive,” but it is simply the case that they found themselves in a struggle between two civilizations,” that of the traditional peoples of the North and that of Soviet power ( and


            Fedorchenko earlier attracted international attention for his 2011 film, “The Heavenly Wives of the Luga Mari,” about another Finno-Ugric people in the Middle Volga region. Like that movie, his current film attempts to move beyond ideological stereotypes and present the conflict in strictly human terms.


            Peasant resistance to Stalin’s collectivization campaign has been widely documented, but the violent response of the Northern peoples of the Russian Federation has attracted less attention, although there have been a few scholarly studied prepared in Russia and in Estonia over the last two decades.


            The revolt of the Khanty and Nentsy, which is usually called the Kazym rebelleion, began in the early 1930s when Soviet officials attempted to bring these peoples out of their traditional forest homes into urban places where they could be more easily controlled and to stamp out many of their national traditions, including their cult of the bear.


            That sparked violence in 1932-33 which was suppressed by units of the Red Army in 1933-34. These events are still part of the national memories of the peoples of that region and this film undoubtedly will attract still more attention there and elsewhere to one of the lesser known acts of genocide by the Soviet authorities.


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