Director Alexey Fedorchenko began his film career in a most peculiar way: by not. Initially earning a degree in economics in his hometown of Yekaterinburg, Russia, it was years later that he started working in the documentary facility of Sverdlovsk Studios and then in the screenwriting department of the Russian Institute of Cinematography. So it only makes sense that Fedorchenko began his career making short documentaries.
For his first feature film, First on the Moon (2005), Fedorchenko combined his experience with documentary with the fantastical to end up with a "mockumentary" about the the "first" landing on the Moon in the 1930s by the Soviets. Shot in gorgeous black and white, Fedorchenko described the story as "something of an homage to the generation of our fathers and grandfathers, including their honesty, their genuine belief in an ideal". The film was celebrated by critics both in Russia and around the world and went on to win a handful of awards, including one from the Venice Film Festival. Two short clips from First on the Moon can be viewed here.
Fedorchenko has been quoted as saying that "all fictional films are fairytales, fairytale for adults, done in different genres." Silent Souls (2010), Fedorchenko's second feature film, holds true to this. Silent Souls was a road movie based on short story and rich in the folklore and traditions of the Meyra people. Silent Souls impressed countless critics, including Roger Ebert, who commented that the "profound and immensely touching film in only 75 perfect minutes achieves the profundity of an epic." It was considered a frontrunner for the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival and went on to win the Golden Osella for Cinematography. You can watch the trailer below:
Not quite ready to leave Russian folklore behind, Fedorchenko further explores this theme in Celestial Wives of the Meadow Mari, screening at this year's Toronto International Film Festival. Working again with the same screenwriter from Silent Souls, Fedorchenko wove together 23 vignettes about love, beauty, and female sexuality. Words really don't even begin to describe this magical film, so we urge you to watch the trailer. Even if you've watched it already, watch it again. You know you want to:
CELESTIAL WIVES OF MEADOW MARI Screening Times:
- Wednesday, Sept 11th, 7:00 PM TIFF BELL LIGHTBOX 4
- Thursday, Sept 12th, 9:15 PM TIFF BELL LIGHTBOX 2
- Saturday, Sept 14th, 9:30 AM SCOTIABANK 8