Evenkia, Siberia, filming the teaser
The sun has gone down, slowly, as it should on the North. Last glance at the thermometer: -37C. Clear sky, it is going to drop to -40C by the morning. Not the weather for camping, I think, when I enter our run-down Russian-style military tent. For a couple of weeks this is my home that I share with a lovely Evenki family, the nomadic people of the Siberian taiga. They have traditional reindeer skin tent too, but prefer to use this leaky ugly tarp, because this gets dirty slower. This is a practical decision, like everything else here…
Inside, Vladimir is keeping the fire alive in the rusty iron stove. He is 65 years old and having spent all his life in the forest hasn’t yet mastered this indoor fire. Well, at least on the first night when he is feeding the fire half asleep trying to keep the tent and the guests warm. Despite the fire the nights are freezing, I realize this when a strange noise wakes me up, it is the sound of the loudly chattering teeth of my interpreter Igor.
Some days earlier we had a surreal flight here on the board of a MI8 Russian helicopter: Having to squeeze ourselves in the plane next to the other cargo – a large coffin. As we flew over the white frozen landscape it was hard to imagine that there are people living in this cold endless sea of trees.
But for four years old Masha, the granddaughter and the central character our would-be film, this is home and a large playground as well. Now, in March it was never warmer than -15C and this tiny girl is out all day long wearing only some pullovers. Many times the feeling comes upon me that I should put my polar jacket on her, but it seems she is fine in this natural deep freezer.
On the last night, as I lie in my warm sleeping bag I think about this family and the place where they live. But my thoughts are interrupted: I need to go outside an answer the call of nature. I am too lazy to put on all the warm clothes I need and I leave the safety of the tent. Immediately feel that I made a mistake. The cold grips my chest and I almost hear as it bites my lung.
But there’s another thing: panic.
Which direction did I came from…?! It’s a labyrinth of reindeer trails in the deep snow swallowed by the darkness. Hey, I don’t want to become the hero of the next Evenki legend about a crazy Hungarian who never found his way back to the tent!!
Suddenly a dog barks up. Ugh! The tents are only a few meters away.
Before we say goodbye to Vladimir he assures me that he will help us to make a beautiful film because the world has to see how the Evenkis’ life as they see “the life of African bushmen”. I am very surprised: “Bushmen?! “It turns out that he is watching “Dyeeskavery Channel” via satellite on the rare occasions when he visits the village. I have to remind myself that the world is getting smaller and smaller. But also that I am talking to a grandfather probably from the last nomadic family of this vast area. I want the whole world to see this fantastic man – just the same way as he is watching the Bushmen of Namibia on television in the middle of Siberia!
Ekonda, Siberia, 2006