“There is no need to wait until better times to show a film”

Sinet Sakhawood
The interview with the film director Nikandr Fedorov before the premiere of the film “Ogo saas” (“Childhood”).

Nikandr Fedorov is well-known in Sakha Republic for his first film “Dance with me”, which came out in March 2021.

The film is about first true friends, problems of growing up and trying to cope with the difficulties. The “Ogo saas” was released in Russia, Sakha Republic on Thursday 7th March 2022. This film will make a viewer go back to a carefree time of childhood and remind them about sweet feelings of freedom.

The 26-year-old film director dedicates this film to his beloved family, friends and his fellow countrymen. Some movie scenes are based on his childhood. The director was born and grew up in a small village, where he was spending all the time playing outside. He was running to the forest with friends, built improvised shelters, played lapta (a Russian bat and ball game. It is similar to cricket or baseball), watched the Matrix and played Mortal Combat on the Sega console. He still lives and works in his native village Beidinga in Ust-Aldanskii district (Central part of Sakha Republic; close to Yakutsk city).

“Movies are made for people. It has to raise emotions, help people, inspire them, heal, distract, and in my case, remind them about their better selves, and dive into childhood. And there is no need to wait until better times to come, to show the movie”, says Nikandr.

Plot of the movie: Parents give a long-awaited bicycle to Saryal, and he breaks it on the very first day. The boy is afraid to tell the parents, thinking that he had betrayed them and did not meet their expectations. Facing the first big problem in life, Saryal decides that it is unsolvable, and having left the note for the parents, he runs away to the forest. And that is how the most interesting thing is about to begin…

Memories of a lifetime

—There was almost the same story with the bicycle in my life. When I was 10, I was dreaming of having a bike. You should remember that bitter, annoying feeling when everybody around has a bike, but not you. On one of the summer mornings my parents woke me up and asked to fetch something from the yard to the house. I went out and couldn’t believe my eyes! It was a bicycle! I almost had tears of joy. With my Dad and brothers we quickly put it together. I went to the highest hill straight away, having a risk of falling, which actually happened.

Then I met my friends a couple of days later. There were older guys in our gang. That day they suggested we go to the border of the village, where local drivers would leave coins (tradition of Yakut people for a good and safe trip). We wanted to buy sweets with that money. I don't quite remember how many kilometers away that area was, but that was definitely very far. There was a huge challenge facing us. I took one guy with me. In the middle of our way I lost my breath and my legs were jelly. To tell the truth, I thought that we came up with not a really good deal. We collectively decided that I would wait for them where I was. My passenger took my bike and they continued riding. One hour passed, then another one, they still didn’t return. I played for a while and then I fell asleep. It was already evening. I was worrying about the guys, whether they had been caught or maybe they just forgot about me? If they had been caught, what had they done to them? Maybe they are at the police station? What do I say to my parents about the bike?

It was already night when I decided to walk to the village. A big truck “Kamaz'' stopped near me.''Hey boy, what are you doing there? Let me give you a ride.” What suspicious guys, I thought. I said I was waiting for my friends. “It’s already night, where is your village?” I pointed in the direction of Beiding village. He insisted, “Let me give you a ride”. I sat in that huge “Kamaz” and he kept on asking me about what I was doing on the road, how I appeared there, who my friends are, where my parents work. It seemed like we were driving for ages.
Finally he brought me to the village border and left me there. I couldn’t decide to come into the house for very long. I was walking there and back near my home, looking into my window, then my friends’ windows. In the end, I realized that everybody was sleeping and sneaked into my room. In the morning my bike was already in the yard.
I rode to our spot that we usually call “General headquarters”. They were having a feast there, a rolled cake, “Rosa” drink popular at that time, and chewing gums. It turned out that when they were taking the coins, there were cars all the time. That’s why they were sitting in the bushes and came home only in the very early morning. I remember how we would sit and share our impressions for a very long time. I clearly remember that exact moment.
I wrote the script and changed that reminiscence. First I made a short film based on that story which is also called “Ogo saas”. Later on when I was shooting “Dance with me”, I wrote a full-length screenplay. I really wanted to picture my village and its citizens with good grace, but more importantly, my childhood memories, so that we don’t forget about it and remember the kids we were. Time flies so fast, and the world is changing.

Actors are kids from the neighborhood”

All the main roles were given to the local kids. They’re 11-12 year old children from the neighborhood. I work as a film director in a village culture center and I run a movie and theater club. I was preparing them for the shooting for a year. The kids did such a great job, they tried so hard. Without their commitment, there would not be a film.

We were searching for Saryal, the main character, for a very long time. I was looking for a really genuine kid, a radiant one, who would live and perceive all these moments as a child. It was a hard task for me. Once my friend told me that in the neighboring village his brother Vadim Savvinov lived. We went there. He was very shy and denied our proposal. But when I gave him the extracts from the script to read, he amazed everyone around with his speech. His hero is more of a generalized character. I did not have a task to picture one exact neighbor or a classmate. That was a combination of all my friends, neighbors and people I knew. When they see the movie, they would not even realize that it’s about them.

Working with kids is hard, but interesting at the same time. The greatest secret here is to talk to them as equals, without any favors and “baby talk”.

We had Fedot Lvov, a professional actor (“Cranes over Ilmen”, “Horde”, “My killer”) who is also from Beiding village. He played the main character’s father.

To tell the truth, the whole camera crew and I liked the film very much. I know for sure that this is not the edge, and new projects that are about to start, are much more epic. So these small films will be a sketch of a bigger work.

Biographical film about Vyacheslav Karpov

In the end of May we will start to make “Khapsyhyy” movie (Khapsyhyy is a mixture of freestyle wrestling and sambo without shock technique using suffocating and pain techniques). It will come out a year later, on the 6th of April, Vyacheslav Karpov’s birthday, who was the first champion of the Soviet Union in freestyle wrestling from Yakutia among young men. He was at the height of his fame at one time, it was a great honor for everyone to be friends with him, to be close to him. Unfortunately, a series of tragedies, such as the death of his best friend, also the legendary wrestler Nikolai Zakharov “Sakhaachcha” at the age of 20, then three months later the death of his mother leads to the fact that he begins to drink a lot.

Only because of his wife Tatiana and his athletic character that he returns to life, sports, and new victories. At the age of 32, he is fond of draughts and becomes the coach of the first grandmaster from the Sakha people, Alexander Azarov.

Vyacheslav Pavlovich's wife, his relatives and friends all know that I am making a film about him. The story in this movie will not be the same as his real life. This is a biopic as I see his life story. This is a film about how we spend our lives to get back into it, fall and get up, and that everything in our life depends only on ourselves. I will reveal my dark side, the "Khapsyhyy" movie will be a turning point in my career, it will be much darker and tougher than my previous films.

I've wanted to make such a film for a long time. I just didn't know who could be my hero. Suddenly, three years ago, in a bookstore, I came across a book "Ochurga ogustaryy, kyayyyga kyattanyy". On the cover, a guy and some dark entity are sitting opposite each other and holding hands like in arm wrestling. Without hesitation, I bought this book and read it in the evening. It was an amazing story of Vyacheslav Karpov.

Then one day I went to the house of my grandfather, who had a large library. I often take books from there to read. That day I got my hands on the book "Khapsyhyy" by Egor Neimokhov. I remembered that during my student years, my friend, shaman and healer Orkon Buurgal always advised me this book, and I kept forgetting about it.The book turned out to be very interesting and identical to Karpov's story, right one-on-one, only the details and the names were slightly changed. I ran to my father and asked: "Is this book not about Karpov?" It turned out that the writer had completely written the life story of Vyacheslav Karpov, bu only changed his name. They say that after the book was published, Karpov called the writer and asked how he found out everything. He replied: "I've always been watching you." Then there was a performance based on this story by Neimokhov, at the premiere of which Karpov's heart seized, everything was shown so accurately.

I shot “Ogo saas” movie on my vacation money”

The main reason was that we couldn’t find the money for post-production for about half a year and then we came across the grant contest by Sakhawood project of Sinet Spark Foundation. To our great happiness and luck, we won and got the money for two movies, “Ogo saas” and “Khapsyhyy”. We express our gratitude to the fund and Arsen Tomsky personally for the support of Yakut cinema.

I also want to thank my relatives, friends and fellow countrymen, whose support and faith inspire us to make films and do it with such pleasure.