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ARCHIVE - Passport Control 1-41 - MEDIAWAVE Art Workshops :: PASSPORT CONTROL 3 - Altai & Novosibirsk (Russia), 2007 :: 2 September, NOVOSIBIRSK - ALTAI



Péter Pusker:


I woke up dazedly the following morning, but what I realized at once was that the bed next to mine was empty. By the time I got back from having a bath, Kisjakab had arrived and was eating a giant piece of cheese. He was still staggering, I could hardly got him to tell me what had happened last night. Finally he talked about a disco, where he proved to be the king of the dance floor, a car, which took him home in the morning, an other place, where as he could remember probaly the Dutch guys were there too, and Serega, a young, Russian, cheerful maffia member, with whom he made friends, and who secured an ecstatic, peaceful entertainment for him.

I tried to search for Jenő and the others, being quite sure, they were somewhere nearby. In a few minutes my mobile rang. Go upstairs, along the corridor and the two Hungarian teams meet.

Jenő Hartyándi:

We arrived at 5.30 am in Novosibirsk, with the usual numb legs. We got into an other time zone, altogether we got back 5 hours in time. It took us 2.5 hours to get from Budapest to Moscow and another 4 hours from Moscow to Novosibirsk, which signs how far we were from home, and another 500-1000 km was still waiting for us to get into the Altai region. We had some rest at the Hotel Central, then we left it to the Altai at 13.00

Let me jump back in time and speak about my expectations and former experiences of this territory. My first goal, besides getting back to the Altai (this was the 3rd time I could visit this region), was to show the young generation this area full of wonders, which can be discovered not only in the environment, but in the people as well. Ella Davletshina, director of „Meeting in Siberia” International Documentray Filmfestival, which had its 10th anniversary this year, is an old partner of us. As a documentary filmmaker, she won an award at our festival for her film „Retro”, in addition, she visited us several times, as a member of the jury, as a teacher of the PASSPORT CONTROL International Film and Photo Workshop. Thus it wasn’t by accident at all, that the 3rd PASSPORT CONTROL took place in Novosibirsk.

First, when I was in the Altai region in 2003, Gorgo (Ildikó Gorgosilits) accompanied me. Our driver, Sergei, about 30 or 35 years old looked like a Russian muzhik with his long-long beard (which reached his waist), and the same time he looked like a rocker with his bald head and leather clothes. We were racing at a speed of 140-180 km/h in his Mazda , listening to the so hated acid music along on the Siberian roads below the evening sky. The universe seemed unbelievably close to us, as if the stars could have fallen on us in any second. The road was so straight, as if we had travelled on the Great Plain in Hungary. Waking up at 6.00, we found ourselves in a picturesque site with high mountains, birch-woods, river valley. Sergei stopped for having a rest, he put off his clothes and washed himself in the 5°C cold stream. We were just shivering with cold in the car and took pleasure in the gorgeous landscape of the dawn.

Before our journey we asked Sergei where we were to go, but he only told us: „Don’t worry. You’ll like it.” I was seeking for seeing and listening to a musician singing in their special way, using their throat. Finally we stopped at a 100 year old house, from which men came out looking alike Sergei with long beards. There we met the very special soicety of the Siberian hippies. It was strange to get to know people, whose American sisters and brothers were a history even for me, and there, in Siberia they appeared 30 years later. It was like an ethnographical research tour. When the movement of hippies started in the USA, the Soviet Union bottled up the initations for a same movement there. We spent a whole day with them, Gorgo with speaking to them, while I was shooting a film about them. When we finally invited them to our festival, because of the really specific music they played on their hand-made instruments, they refused us. It turned out, they had not moved even to the neighbouring towns for ages, besides it, they didn’t have any official papers. „Why should I?”, they asked, „I’m happy here”, they added. Briefly these were my first impressions and experiences about this region.

Jumping back to the present: 2, September, 2007: we travelled by two microbuses. Our team consisted of 9 Hungarian, 2 Dutch, 1 German and 1 Russian workshop participants. Ella Davletshina also accompanied us, just 5 days before their festival, which we appreciated a lot. Our journey went along the Siberian Plain, with wheat and buckwheat fields, forests and meadows everywhere for about 400 km.

It was dark when we entered the Altai region and arrived in Nyizsnaja Kajancsa our camp site, from where we started our expeditions in the following three days. The youth hostel’s small wooden houses were situated under an imposing crag. We had suprisingly nice weather even after getting dark. We spent a pleasant night with the companionship of a pioneer camp-fire, the starry sky and some vodka. We only missed the wolf of Maugli from the rock above us.

After visiting the local pub/shop, where our young participants tried to get to know the local people, we made sweat the cumulated toxins from us in the „bánya” (Russian steam bath) and fell asleep without knowing what the following days would hold for us. In this sense, the situation now was the same as four years ago. Ella, like Sergei, didn’t let us know what our programs were going to be.

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