Zina Semenova: How I came up with an idea for my documentary “The Land of Spirits” (part two).

An umbrella lady with a big hug

I could never imagine such luck for a novice like me, in my first attempt, to find an ideal person for a character-driven plot. Everything happened in such random circumstances. Here you can read how exactly it happened.

So, I met a SHOR WOMAN OF three things:

A big heart

In that gray rainy morning I woke up early in order to catch the only bus that runs to the Shor village of Chuvashka (30 minutes from Myski) several times a day. When I arrived a Shor lady with a big umbrella waived me with an inviting smile. She was the only person on the bus stop who waited under the rain. I got off the bus, she hugged me like I was a buddy for centuries and put me under her umbrella because I happened to forget my umbrella this day. While we were approaching her summerhouse on the Altyn Shoria Street (means Golden Shoria) she started to tell me her story in fluent Russian.

A viable character

Nadezhda Kydymaeva is 65 and recently was the only one person in her group to pass the driver’s license test, despite being the oldest. Before retirement she used to work as a foreman for a construction company. When her husband passed away she took all of his responsibilities including fixing and building things around the house. This 60+ lady built herself a kitchen with a spacious terrace, did the exteriors for her house and two saunas, all outside in the summer. One of the two saunas is for Russian guests with hot air and another one is for Shors, with deep tilted walls, the mixture between bath and swimming pool.

Of a kitchen soul

Before the interview, Nadezhda invited me to have herbal tea and a meal with her. Homemade_pirozhkiEarlier this morning she fried two kinds of pirozhki only for me! (pirozhki is Russian fried buns stuffed with different fillings).  – “Next time you come, I’ll treat you and your crew in Shor style. My dream is to put a big cauldron in a summer terrace and feed all my friends. I’ll cook meaty Shor dishes for you!”

I only can imagine how delicious it might be in these pine tree’s surroundings.

    Remember Turkish director Fatih Akin’s chef Zinos Kazantsakis with his Soul Kitchen restaurant? soul-kitchen_zinosAfter talking with Nadezhda I got the impression that her cooking passion comes from an ancient source, from the times when Turkish and Mongolian tribes were wandering and interbreeding in these vast lands of Eurasia.

Castaneda-like Stories

Nadezhda’s interview is not included in my future documentary but it is interesting to know her stories. You can read her stories here. She told me two stories with a Castaneda-like mystical tone about

Spirit of the Taiga and Old Shaman. Officially the Shors are Christians but they still believe in certain forms of animism. All natural forces have priority under people according their beliefs and the laws of the Shor universe cannot be violated, otherwise one can risk harm to himself or even to death. They have spirits in the Mountains, Rivers, Lakes with whom a simple man constantly needs to seek an agreement with by doing rituals such as, for instance, worship of mountains. Only then Shor man can keep a balance of all the parts of the world.

Taiga’s attraction

In one of her stories she talks about her son. Fascinated by taiga since his early age, Nadezhda’s son could not imagine his life without it: “I am going to be a hunting specialist”, he said to his mom in his teenage years. According to Nadezhda, he went to Moscow to get higher education and became a hunting specialist. From this institute the Russian army took him to Chyrnobyl where he was one of many soldiers who received a high dosage of radiation.

Now he lives deep in taiga in a small village without electricity and never considers himself a sick person. When his mom asks why he still lives there and doesn’t gets a higher position in the city he answers: “Mom, I do not need anything else”.

What is coming next? English.

Before I said goodbye to her she shared with me her goal for the next coming year. Her new hobby is to learn English, that is, after she finishes building everything around her house and independently masters a computer and Skype. When I ask how exactly is she going to learn English, she said: “I have my dictionary. It’ll be long winter nights to memorize the words”.

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About zinasemenova

Russian filmmaker and blogger at filmcareer.wordpress.com

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