Voices from the Tundra # 113

Voices from the Tundra - The Last of the Yukagirs

11:15, Sunday 16th June, CMB 3

rai 113 voices-from-the-tundra

  • Director/Anthropologist: Edwin Trommelen, Paul Enkelaar
  • Year of Release: 2013
  • Duration: 66 mins
  • Country of Production: The Netherlands
  • Location: Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), Russia, Yukagir
  • Language: Russian, Yukagir, Dutch, Even, Yakut (English)

In the north east of Siberia, above the Arctic Circle live the Tundra Yukagirs, nomadic reindeer herders. Sixty-three of them still speak Yukagir, an unique language in which the speakers gradually start singing when telling historical tales. Only two elderly Yukagirs still master this skill. The Amsterdam linguist Cecilia OdĂ© travels to the Yukagirs in order to capture their language and preserve it for posterity. A nasty trick of fate is that Cecilia has recently heard that she is seriously ill, she has metastatic cancer. Cecilia's project contains all the basic ingredients needed for a fascinating and inspiring documentary: a devoted person who considers the recording of the vanishing language as a life task; for westerners the totally unknown way of life of the Yukagirs in the extreme Siberian cold; touching moments like the dedicated singing of old-timers and children in school learning the language with very limited materials; the romance of lassos and reindeer herds and nomads’ tents on the ice.   But the strongest asset of this film is the heart-warming friendship, which developed between Cecilia and the Yukagirs. This friendship allows us to enter the Yukagir community in an unforced manner and to gain access to the hearts of the people. Trust and confidence is such a necessary tool for a genuine portrait and for showing how these extraordinary people live their lives in distant Siberia, and it makes it possible to speak frankly with them about their disappearing language, their traditional way of life and their efforts to keep their culture alive.

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Organised by the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain & Ireland (RAI) since 1985, it is an itinerant festival that moves biennially from one university host to another, in association with local community and cultural organisations.

The festival will be held from Thursday 13 June to Sunday 16 June 2013 in Edinburgh, hosted by National Museums Scotland and the STAR consortium. Scottish Training in Anthropological Research (STAR) is a collaboration between the Universities of Aberdeen, Glasgow, Edinburgh and St. Andrews. Over 60 new films will be screened alongside a conference 'New Observations' and a selection of special events and workshop about art & anthropology and the use of archival film.

The RAI Film Festival is held in collaboration with the Center for Visual Anthropology, University of Southern California.

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The Festival gratefully acknowledges sponsorship from:

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