2021 Photo Contest, Contemporary Issues, 1st Prize



Alexey Vasilyev

05 July, 2019

Residents of the village of Magaras, who participated as extras in the mystical drama The Cursed Land, pose for a group photo, in Sakha, Russian Federation.

The people of Sakha, a republic in the far northeast of the Russian Federation, live in a remote area with extreme weather conditions: temperatures can drop as low as -50°C in winter. Although Sakha, which is also known as Yakutia, extends over more than three million square kilometers, its population numbers barely 950,000 people, around 50 percent of whom are ethnic Sakha (or Yakuts). Art has become a way of showcasing and preserving Sakha culture, traditions, and stories. Cinema has flourished there since the 1990s. Around seven to ten feature films are shot a year, by a local movie industry lightheartedly dubbed ‘Sakhawood’. Genres range from romantic comedies and crime movies to fairy tales and local legends. Most movies are made in the Yakut language, and subtitled in Russian. Production budgets range from US$12,000 to US$120,000. Many actors have no professional training, although some have worked in theater, and directors and camera crew frequently attend film school in Moscow or elsewhere. The films are enormously popular locally but have also met wider success. In recent years, Sakha cinema has been represented in film festivals in Finland and South Korea, among others, and the films have picked up numerous awards. 

About the photographer

Alexey Vasilyev

Alexey Vasilyev (1985) is a documentary photographer based in Yakutia, Russia. His work focuses on the daily life research of people in the far North and their national identi...

Technical information

Shutter Speed
Canon EOS 5D Mark III

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