Flahertiana is my life
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I am the person who sees documentaries at its best and worst
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It was a week-long immersion into the world of documentary films
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It was clear as day that our Pechenkin is, indeed, that leopard of today and tomorrow
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Flahertiana became a turning point in my life
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The festival has become a catalyst for cinematic life of a completely different level
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Everyone talked in their own language and we all understood each other
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It was Pavel's will and everyone else was just not envious
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Documentary films never age
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Work at Flahertiana felt like a fortune of incredible people for me
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Documentary films for me were some kind of chaos
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Such was my state after my first Flahertiana: perfectly happy and absolutely exhausted
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Now I can clearly say that I am both – a musician and a translator
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Herz Frank was our living flag
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I have to admit, you can't call me a patriot of Flahertiana
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Flahertiana is karma to me
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Bring you, put you to sleep, feed you. Who does this all? The mother of the festival!
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They are cockroach-like, sure, but they are cockroach-like adults
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At that time sponsors were two companies, one for vodka, the other – for beer
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I'm extremely happy when I see a full screening room
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Cinema always equals a state of force majeure
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Our festival is no entertainment
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At some point, I started to feel like I am inside a film
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Flahertiana simply dragged me in
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Flahertiana is for a 100% about a person
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Flahertiana is very much like a marathon
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My favorite film is the light on people
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Lemekhov and Flahertiana are about a creative conflict in a good sense
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President of the Festival

President of the Festival, Film Director
– 25 years ago I was not even forty years old. The decision to create a festival was the main decision in my life. Flahertiana exists thanks to the participation of other people: Vladimir Sokolov, with whom we have been working together for many years now, and a large team that has formed during this time. Flahertiana is my life. Good or bad, crooked or straight, beautiful or ugly – this is the path that I have passed.

In the early years, we paid a lot of attention to theory. What is the documentary cinema? Why do we need it? What place does it take in general – in art and in real life. Later, the practice began to grow on this theory. The seminar for filmmakers gave birth to a full-fledged festival with three competitions – international, national, student, a rich information program, pitching, and satellite projects: "VUZ-Flahertiana", "Social Cinema".

In fact, the festival is like a child: first, it crawled, then got up, and somehow got stronger and gradually grew up. Now I see it as an adult, independent but a very dear person. Flahertiana develops, finds understanding and support from people. So we are doing the right thing. This means that this business is necessary.

Flahertiana Executive Director

Flahertiana Executive Director (since 1995)
producer, Director of Novy Kurs Film Studio
– The first festival took place in 1995 and it was not a spontaneous decision. At first, Pavel Pechenkin had serious negotiations with Sverdlovsk. The country was undergoing radical changes at the time. It was then that Russian documentary filmmaking sort of separated into journalism and art, with its hero observation and minimum interference traditions.

For me previously, the documentary was chaos. I remember how at the festival I started to feel something. I saw something behind those "Flahertian" films: different film language, concept.

Flahertiana was always full of interesting intellectual discussions. The most memorable for me was the one about time in films. I am a physicist, time loops, current of time, relativity theory; this is what I always loved and understood. It was through the concept of time that I comprehended the film structure.

The first Flahertiana had no budget: we asked for money from people, administration, sponsors. We needed to organise reception catering for guests. In Perm at the time, there was a big deli-store "Kommersant", owned by a woman, so-called "New Russian elite", but very nice and welcoming. We asked whether she could help us with catering at the opening of the festival, give us discounts. She was so impressed that we have a film festival in Perm, she even did not ask what films we show fiction or documentary, it was not important. She did a full royal buffet for the opening night with hall decorations, table setting, wine and roasted piglets stuffed with apples! That was a true delicacy at the time.

You can say that I channel Pavel Pechenkin's whirlwind energy into the right direction or transform it into constructive actions. I initially came to Flahertiana to do administration. Pavel has a very strong festival vision and creative approach; the second opinion would inevitably provoke a clash. Therefore, such division of responsibilities worked very well. Pavel, mostly, was responsible for content and creativity. While all administrative issues like accommodation of guests, screenings, arrivals and departures were on me. This is still the case today. Sometimes I really want to be at the festival as a guest, watch films with the audience. But there is so much to do that I'm responsible of, I can't for now.

Festival Chief Coordinator

Festival Chief Coordinator (since 2014)
Assistant Chief Coordinator (2013)
– Flaheriana came to my life by chance. Though now I think that it happened for a reason. I've always loved cinema and in Perm cinema means Flahertiana. In 2013 the festival was looking for a management assistant. I remember meeting with Pavel and he said: "An autopsy will show what you can do." Well, the autopsy showed that the next year I became festival chief coordinator.

Festival chief coordinator is a slightly strange position. On one hand, I need to make a schedule for all departments and connect people with each other, see the process as a big picture and monitor the details. I think the task of the coordinator is to find a compromise between order and creative chaos. Some sweet spot in the middle: to make sure that accurate well-run system is in harmony with the atmosphere of the festival, passion of the team, mood of the participants and the audience. There should be no order for the sake of order, it is important to keep the festival essence and vibes.

On the other hand, I am engaged directly in films' review. Every year I watch almost all competition entries, that is more than 700-800 films. I am the person who sees documentary films at its best and worst. Together with selectors, we choose films for festival international and Russian competitions. Also, I organise special screenings and partner programmes.

Me in 2013 and 2020 are two different people. Seven years ago at Flahertiana I met Luciano Barisone, now the ex-director of the Visions du Réel festival in Nyon. We drank wine and talked about his path from a young film critic to the head of a major European festival. For me then it was one of many random pleasant acquaintances. Now, I already have "documentary" friends and colleagues all over the world. We stay in touch after festivals, communicate, ask for advice, help each other, this is very inspiring. Now I see the documentary world as one big network and I think I have a place in it, it is mine and I feel it.

Curator of Students' Films Competition

Flahertiana Workshop Curator (since 2014)
Curator of Students' Films Competition (since 2015), Film Director
– I studied at Perm State Institute of Culture, workshop of Pavel Pechenkin. Before I knew nothing about Flahertiana and documentary films. You can say that I joined the course by chance. I remember that before we even started the studies we were sent to the festival. Flahertiana takes place during the school year, so for all Perm film students it is a great platform for practice and observation. The same happened to us: it was a week-long immersion into the world of documentary films.

At my first festivals, I could fall asleep during the screening or would miss some evens just like everyone else. It all changed in 2009 when I clearly realised that I want to make documentary. That year I visited a workshop on directing lead by Alexander Gutman where we discussed his film "August 17". He was an excellent speaker, passionate about what he does, and probably thanks to him and Flahertiana I decided to get into filming documentary.

For us, students, guests, directors and participants of the festival were out of reach. There were very few young directors; the festival in my opinion was inviting more established experts and masters. And we film students from Perm really wanted to meet young students from Moscow and Saint-Petersburg.

In 2014, I had an idea to create a student competition of documentary films. I collected the best graduate films of that year and organised screenings as part of Flahertiana Workshop Program. This was the first step towards a permanent student competition at the festival. Already then, the outlook of the youth turned out to be interesting to Permians and Flahertiana participants.

I wanted to have a young blood community and it happened. Now Flahertiana student competition is widely known in capital and regional universities. We get around 100 student entries annually. For some people getting into this student competition is a big dream.

Member of Flahertiana's Selection Committee

Member of Flahertiana's Selection Committee
Programming director of Artdocfest
– I met Pavel Pechenkin in the 90's at some film screening or young filmmakers meeting: his film About Olya in Captivity was a success at festivals and on TV. And later Pasha, as a big passionary (among non-fiction filmmakers there are hardly two more people like him in the whole country), came up with the idea of his workshop Flahertiana. Back then it was held in Ust-Kachka and he invited me to come over, sent me a plane ticket. It was in 1995. I was working in Kommersant newspaper by then, which was at the top of its form. I was almost ready to go to Perm, when a new task arrived - I needed to do an emergency interview with, I remember it clearly, Nikita Mikhalkov. It turned out, though, the news was fake and the ticket was gone - I let Pasha down. And it became the last straw – "school began to be in the way of studies", so I left Kommersant. And just like that Flahertiana became a turning point in my life.

After that, a completely different life began. We were in touch with Pasha, I recommended him things and he invited me and my colleague Marina Drozdova to the selection committee. Currently we have five people on board, including Pavel himself, Boris Karadzhev and Alina Stabrovskaya. At the beginning it also included Grigoriy Libergal and Sergey Miroshnichenko, but they later began their own enterprise within the International Moscow Film Festival's team. And we stayed a current team, which seems to work fine.

Member of Flahertiana's Selection Committee

Film Director, Flahertiana Selection Committee Member (since 1995)
– Flahertiana in its early years could not strictly be called a festival. It was more small get-togethers of documentary directors and enthusiasts from different cities. They took place in winter at the resort of Ust-Kachka. The future of the documentary was very unclear then but I remember those times with great warmth. We spent the week in isolation, watching each other's films and having open conversations. Pavel Pechenkin organised and funded these meetings despite the difficult economic situation.

In Ust-Kachka we had serious film research and scientific program. The format of the discussion of the films just seen worked very well at the time. However, quite quickly these small private gatherings exhausted themselves. Over time, we realised that we need spectators, colleagues from other countries, it was time to turn the seminar into an event. We wanted to make the festival more all-encompassing so that it covers the interests of all people associated with documentary films: from recognised film theorists and doers to people who come to Flahertiana for the first time.

Strictly speaking, Perm has not been considered a particularly cinematic city. Of course, there were enthusiasts, talented and original people, there was a cinema complex on Perm Television which from time to time produced rather good films. Still, the opportunities for filmmaking in the city were quite limited. It was clear (at least for me and some of my friends), that if you want to work professionally in the film industry you need to go to Moscow, get an education and fight your way through.

In the 1970s during the period of deep stagnation, we could not imagine that in 15-20 years everything would change so dramatically and Perm will have an active cinematic life. But it happened. An independent film studio Novy Kurs was founded, local film production revived and the need for professional communication has aroused. Flahertiana festival became a natural continuation of these processes, a catalyst of cinematic life of a completely different level. When Flahertiana matured, it started more and more noticeably influence the cultural environment of the city and the region as a whole. The festival became an important element that shaped the intellectual landscape of Perm. The city has always had strong literary, theatrical and ballet traditions, but now, thanks to Flahertiana, Perm has also become a cinematic city.

Having left for Moscow, I did not lose family and friends ties with Perm, but I was not familiar with the new film industry names. It consisted of people of another generation, much younger than me. I first met Pavel Pechenkin not in Perm but at a festival in Amsterdam. He came up and said that he knew me and told me about the work of the Perm Film Studio, about his festival ideas. I really liked the course Perm was turning towards. By then, I already had quite a good professional network both in Moscow and abroad. I had worked on a number of international projects and understood that my help would be valuable for my hometown.

So, I had a quite pleasant second acquaintance with the city of my youth: my personal home feelings were topped up by professional interest. I began to work at Novy Kurs Film Studio as a writer and director. Soon in Moscow, we created an intellectual hub that helped to build the festival: the main administration and programme compilation was done in Perm while we from Moscow helped with expert evaluation, networking and contacts.

Now, when Flaertiana became an open festival with a vast educational programme and ever-growing audience, I feel that we really miss those Ust-Kachka small group debates to discuss trends and experiments in the documentary. This is, in my opinion, the dialectic of the festival development. Its ideology needs a much wider interpretation. The festival must not only be a pleasant place for meetings, but also a working platform for the film industry. We need to move towards the format of "projects' fairs", towards the film market which would improve the documentary distribution and expanded themes and genres in films we present for the viewers. We are working on all these issues at the moment and some ideas are already being implemented.

Member of Flahertiana's Selection Committee

Member of Flahertiana's Selection Committee (since 2007), film critic
– I first saw Pavel Pechenkin's films – it was 15 years prior to my membership in the festival's team. I completely adored them – About Olya in Captivity, Man Who Put Idea In, all the others. I was a rebellious young film critic, it seemed to me I was hung up somewhere between the frames, that I was already inside documentary cinema.

By then I worked in a French distribution company that introduced Russian documentaries to the European public. I remember running across the halls of festival centres and telling editors of ARTE and other TV channels about Perm films, "Look how amazing they are!" – and amazing they were, works of Novy Kurs film studio were among the best in Russia. Then in 1993, About Olya in Captivity was shown at the festival in Locarno (forum that opens roads for new cinema generations), and Pasha was awarded with The Leopard of Tomorrow. It was clear as day that our Pechenkin is, indeed, that leopard of today and tomorrow.

It wasn't until later that I became part of the festival's team, in which tenderness and responsibility, discipline and happening – qualities that do not usually work well together – are combined in inexplicable fashion. I think it is important that the festival and its leading team of masterminds never agreed to any sort of artistic compromise and right from the beginning focused on filling the program with the most expressive, intensive and artistically relevant ideas of the world's doc. It came through in the first programs, and we are still proud of it now.

Head of media education
department at Perm Cinema

Head of media education department at Perm Cinema (since 2010)
VUZ-Flahertiana project coordinator (from 2009 to 2019)
volunteer service curator (2006)
– The greatest adventure, which left a life-long impression, happened in my first year at Flahertiana. I was supposed to check that after the closing party all participants from the other countries would wake up in time for their morning flights. So I stayed to celebrate with them at Kama hotel. There I saw an unusual thing: filmmakers from Serbia, the USA, Denmark and France started passionately arguing about love in English and at some point each of them started talking their own language. But the most amazing thing for me was that I started to understand them, even though I didn't speak English at all. So, everybody talked in their own language and we all understood each other! One of the participants saw me and cried, "She gets us!", and I told him in Russian that I would be happy to argue more about love with him.

I first came to Permkino in 2006. I wanted to do an exhibition on fashion, and since I knew Pavel Pechenkin, I thought of organizing it in Premier. In a few months, together with designers and artists we opened the exhibition of Perm fashion in Premier's hall and all the time communicated with the visitors. Pavel Anatolievich then saw my teaching and organizing abilities and offered me to try and work with school students at Perm Cinema.

Perm Cinema by then had only started as a project and some work of communication with spectators through cinema clubs was already done by Anna Sidyakina and Yulia Balabanova. So I started watching films. As a teacher I, for sure, saw their resourcefulness. It's interesting that I hadn't been much of a cinema fan before, but then I kind of liked it.

I began to watch a lot, create classes, organized a cinema club and it grew into our discussion lessons - a thing we call media education. For instance, Germany did the same: at some point they realized that you can form personal values of a generation through watching and discussing films. And it is not just a lesson with some cinema in it, you need a completely different teaching style and approach. In order for a child, or indeed, anyone, to enter conversation, you need trust. While children usually tell teachers what they want to hear, I wasn't happy enough with that: I find it much more interesting when children grow because they can discuss without being judged, talk, comment on each other.

We then decided we also want students to be able to watch and discuss films. That's how VUZ-Flahertiana appeared, a project where students themselves choose documentaries and discuss them. Following that, we reflected, thought about it, summarised. And time came when we were ready to share our experience. Hence, trips and educational meetings in Omsk, Krasnoyarsk, Gelendzhik, Moscow, Minsk, Kiev, and other cities.

Film director

Director of documentary films, head of the Ostrov Studio
participant and international jury member of Flahertiana
– There was such an artistic association "Nadezhda" in Yekaterinburg, where the conversation about creating Flahertiana began. At that time, together with a few other talented filmmakers we were thinking about expanding documentary filmmaking. We wanted new centres to appear, including one in Perm.

Pavel always had in mind to direct the festival into the mainstream of "direct cinema". Documentary filmmaking was not yet narrowed down to different genres, that happened gradually, when the festival was already in operation. This came from the manner of work that Pavel Pechenkin himself professed. He made several films that were made just like that: Man Who Put Idea In, for example. And we supported him, we thought that such a festival should exist.

In my opinion, this is absolutely correct when the festival is not omnivorous, when it limits itself, has its own specifics and view. Pavel began to narrow that vector. Unlike the Rossiya festival in Yekaterinburg, which hosts various films, Flahertiana decided to stand out, and that was good. It was Pavel's will and everyone else was just not envious. There were no envious people then. All of us – Negashev, Schiller, Solomin – tried to help each other. We thought that the festival would help, first of all, to expand consciousness.

And now, thanks to Flahertiana, Perm has become the centre of documentary filmmaking. The festival is known throughout the world for its course. It is alive, it is very strong. I think this festival of yours is a gem of Perm. Jewel in the crown! The city and the region must understand that it is necessary to develop what already exists, what already has international recognition.

Flahertiana Forum Pitching
and Training Coordinator

Flahertiana Forum Pitching and Training Coordinator (since 2017)
Foreign Relations and Translations Coordinator (from 2006 to 2012)
– I found myself working at Flahertiana during my last year of university - I dreamt of translating films. I was given the position of Foreign Relations and Translations Coordinator. It was back in 2006. That was the year when the festival was granted the status of an international event for the first time, so at first, everything was done based on a hunch.

I have a picture that is a perfect representation of the finale of the festival. I am sitting in the middle of the room dressed in a red T-shirt with a pot of something edible, my knees are badly bruised, all black and blue. We worked in Kinomax that year, the administration's office was one floor higher than the screening rooms. I would often get calls from [Pavel] Pechenkin with a question: "Where's the interpreter?". So I would run down the stairs but by the time I came down, the interpreter would appear in the room, so I had to run back up. In the end, all my feet were covered in bruise because of that flight of stairs. Such was my state after my first Flahertiana: perfectly happy and absolutely exhausted. I've spent seven festivals as Translations Coordinator, until 2013, then I took a break that lasted 5 years. I returned to work on Flahertiana Forum Training and Pitching.

I was full of enthusiasm, in the beginning, many thoughts revolved around the fact that I'm doing something incredibly important for the world. The illusion somewhat dispelled in those seven years. Now I don't have this idealistic feeling "I'm helping the world", but instead a concrete notion that my work is valuable, I see those who benefit from it.

In 2017 Pavel Anatolievich [Pechenkin] persuaded me to come back, now in a different status. The first pitching was a test in many ways, it pushed me out of my comfort zone. But it also got me hooked? It's a job that challenges me, hence it helps me develop.

At the pitching, it was valuable for me to see the amount of work behind every film. I found out that the story isn't born after the shooting is completed. I learned that one and the same plot could be told using very different means. I was surprised when projects would sometimes change even their titles after they went through the pitching process. Sometimes the focus would shift so much that the film ended up telling a completely different story.

For me personally, the most important part is training. There're so many awesome and creative people living in Russia but, unfortunately, we pay little attention to how to find a person who would also get enthused by the idea. Essentially, it's not even about the financial issues – simple consultations sometimes help more than money. The ability to tell the story when it isn't there yet. Do it so that it attracts like-minded people who will add the brainpower to finish the process and present it in the best way possible - this is what's most important. Flahertiana Forum is the first pitching for many, so they need support that will help them move to the next level, go to pitchings and festivals abroad. Directors and producers accumulate experience here, which helps them go forward.

Apart from working at Flahertiana, I teach kundalini yoga. I believe that these activities complete one another. A job of coordinator is full of chaos. But you can't simply say that yoga is harmony, and the festival is chaos. Harmony and balance exist inside the chaos, and you walk on the edge inside this chaos - between madness and rationality.

Yoga helps me find my own flexible path in this chaos. Yoga gives me the ability to listen – it helps when I interact with the festival's guests and participants. Working with people isn't easy, everyone is different. It's really important not to try to cater to everyone but help them orientate themselves.

Right now the festival seems to me as a platform for creative communication between people who look for each other. I get inspired watching connections, friendships and partner relations are formed. It's incredible to see how Flahertiana Forum Training tutors that have finished their work continue helping participants: some with archive work, some watch 6 hours long rough cuts and give their opinion. They didn't ask for any money in return, they were simply helping, friendly cooperation.

Our team are charged with special affection and soulfulness – we are always ready to help one another and support each other. Partnerships and friendships continue even without our involvement but they are born here, on our platform. I think that's very important.

Foreign Relations
and Translations Coordinator

Foreign Relations and Translations Coordinator (2013, since 2015 to present)
Flahertiana Forum Pitching and Training Coordinator (2016)
International Jury Curator (2014), venue coordinator (2012)
– I didn't feel like a translator when I graduated from the Foreign Languages Faculty at the university. I saw myself more as a musician – I've been playing the violin since I was a child, I received a professional education. It was at Flahertiana that I started working as an editor, corrector, I also translated some things myself. I was always rushing between these two activities. Only recently I've accepted this other part of myself. Now I can clearly say that I am both - a musician and a translator.

Both, language and music are ways of communicating, ways to pass on information. Music is a universal language for me since it accesses you on an emotional level. That's one of the most common mistakes made by translators (by people who underestimate the process of translation as well) is connected to that. The way I see it, language is a means to transfer something more than just a set of words and letters: situations, emotions, ситуаций, эмоций, huge semantic layers.

I believe that music helps me understand deeper what stands behind the text. I don't know how to call it correctly? Sensitivity, a level of perception that developed thanks to me playing the instrument since childhood. Whatever it is, it helps me perceive the text much wider.

Maintaining this approach is important when working with subtitles. We translate the film as a piece of art – we work not just with the text but with the whole piece. Directors often send only dialogue sheets up for translations, and translators don't see the film itself. As a result, they simply substitute letters of one language with the letters of another, the meaning disappears. I'm certain that it's important to take a holistic approach.

Second crucial moment - subtitles' timing. Music is a sequence of sounds in time. Films work by the same principle: a sequence of shots in a timeframe. Subtitles become a part of this shot right when they are presented on the screen. This, even their appearance on screen is a part of the films' dramaturgy. By the way, British director Simon Brook was saying the same – he presented his film Peter Brook: The Tightrope last year and joined my workshop on films' translation as an expert. Simon confirmed that the subtitles are important not just for translation of the story inside the film, it's also important when the text appears on the screen - this influences the perception of the audience. So, film text translation is not just about knowing the language but also the insight into art, understanding of the film dramaturgy, film's depth.

I always had some other job connected with theatre and music apart from Flahertiana, the festival took up only 4 months of the year. Recently I realized that I've been working at the festival for eight years. Looking back, I see how much I've grown internally thanks to working here. I was a venue curator, "the mother of the jury", Foreign Relations and Translations Coordinator, Flahertiana Forum Pitching Curator. Thanks to being able to try myself in different roles, I grew professionally and opened Flaherty Translators agency. Right now we get orders for subtitles translation and arrangement from festivals, film promotion agencies, film studios.

Film director

Jury President (2009), director
Herz Frank is Soviet-Israeli director, classic of the world documentary filmmaking, teacher. One of the founders of the Riga school of documentary. He has made more than 30 films awarded in many international film festivals. Herz Frank is an iconic figure for Flahertiana. His textbook film Ten Minutes Older became the subject of discussion on the topic of time in cinema. He passed away in 2013.

Vladimir Sokolov, Executive Director of the Festival:

– The arrival of Herz Frank was very important for us. Ten Minutes Older is a one-shot film, shot without the director's intervention, a certain limit of perfection in documentary filmmaking. This picture became the anthem of Flahertiana, and Herz Frank was our living flag.

Pavel Pechenkin, President of the Festival:

– In 2006, we established a prize at Flahertiana Festival for contribution to the development of documentary cinema. We presented Herz Frank with it. Ten Minutes Older, with its unity of screen time and viewing time, is the standard of documentary filmmaking. In 2009, Herz Frank agreed to be the Jury President in our festival. He, like all members of the jury, was presented with a scarf with the Flahertiana logo. Our communication in Perm was a communication between a teacher and a student, without any familiarity, because I studied through his films and I am sincerely grateful to him for everything he did in the filmmaking. But in cinema, as in life, it is impossible to live without laughter. We joked a lot, he suggested taking a comic photo with a classic plot - the master is leaning on the shoulder of a younger colleague. Now I understand that this gesture is very dear to me. A year later, I happened to meet Herz Frank in Moscow. It was August. Frank was wearing our scarf.

From New Companion newspaper in 2009:

"This year's Jury President, 83-year-old Herz Frank, said at the closing press conference that if there were a competition of film festivals, he would award Flahertiana with the Grand Prix, because this festival not only collects good films but also clearly maintains the "flaherty" ideology: heroes of all films must live some part of their real lives on the screen"

Press attache of the festival

press attache of the festival (since 2018), journalist
– I really liked Blind Gulliver by Martin Rysavy. There is a shot there when the main character is at the eye physician and is trying different lenses, kind of trying to find his focus. Press secretary's job is about the same thing, focusing your optics. Creating an image, you set an angle, direct reality, just as you would do in filmmaking. They say about some documentaries, "It is an untouched reality", but you have to understand that it was the director who chose the story, the hero, the point of view.

The festival started for me with the VUZ-Flahertiana project – those were screenings and discussions of documentary films at the university. I then thought that documentary cinema was only about social topics, maybe, because of the choice of pictures the students made. "Flahertiana" films then discovered horrors of life for me but I enjoyed discussing them.

After student VUZ-Flahertiana finished, I felt strange not to go to the big "grown-up" festival. It had an unusual atmosphere. Unfamiliar bunch of people and such a strange film about a man who went speed-dating with Mexican women. Then Flahertiana announced a review contest. They enjoyed my and my friend's texts, so I started writing for film newspaper Subtitles, at the same time working for other Perm media.

In Subtitles I had a column about unnoticed films. Most of the time, people find them boring or too slow. I found them interesting: it seems to me, people often call something "boring" out of fear of facing the reality, which, indeed, might be quite slow, yet not boring at all. And "Flahertiana" films prove that.

Working at the festival seemed to me a fortune of incredible people. But when the previous press secretary left, I was offered his job. The logic was the following: I was around filmmaking and was able to write about it. Now I understand, this is not the most important thing about my job. What's more important, is to be able to watch carefully – life and people.

Technical director of the festival

Technical director of the festival (2010-2012, 2015 – present)
film director, DoP
– I have to admit, you can't call me a patriot of Flahertiana. When Petchenkin invited us to Flahertiana for the first time in 1995, we left to make a film together with Perm director Konstantin Shitov and Sverdlovsk documentary filmmaker Andrei Anchugov. I thought that the festival is a trifle, a hangout, but we had to work. Pavel still reminds me of that even today.

Naturally, years later I started to appreciate it and realized that thanks to the festival documentary films become more popular. Perm was now spoken of both in Russian and abroad. Thanks to the festival we now have more work – there were times we were literally starving. I had to go to work on TV for my daily bread a couple of times. Why am I saying it like that? Because I hate TV but had to work there. Right now, thanks to Petchenkin promoting the festival, we always have work.

I was invited to work as a technical director at Flahertiana, that was obvious since I work with equipment. When I first started working at Flahertiana, it was quite difficult: we had to work in unfamiliar venues with unfamiliar equipment. It happens that when you try to bring coal to Newcastle, you meet obstacles, and human factor would let you down sometimes.

I don't remember how many years I worked as a "technician". The title technical director sounds grand but in reality, you only serve to "give, bring, connect". I found myself a replacement in Roman Demianov. Then he got fed up with it too, so he called: "Listen, take your place back, I don't want to work anymore".

When I had my second turn, the festival took place in "Premier". There was no need to flail between venues. We erected pavilions right in the cinema hall's yard – two mobile halls that can screen films and hold workshops. It's much easier to live now. Our skills got better with years, there're almost no technical defects any more. You could say that now we are at a high level, even our guests make a note of that, particularly foreign guests.

vice director of Perm Cinema

Guest manager, logistics manager,
consumer communications manager (from 2002 to 2017)
vice director of Perm Cinema
– Flahertiana is karma to me. My grandfather was head of cinemafication of the Perm Region before the war. He was the head of management in Kristall Cinema, signed act of pile driving for the first film archives based in the building of Premier Cinema Centre. For some reason, my parents didn't tell me who my grandfather was. And now I work exactly at the same place where he did.

From time to time there were some hiccups at the festival. Once, when everyone was already running around, we needed to meet a participant at the airport. By then I had just got my driving license and could only drive my own Moskvich-412. The only free person to pick the participant from the airport was me and the only free car was Pechenkin's Niva.

Terrified, I drove to the airport and came back with the director. Some time after, confused Pechenkin asks me:

– Where is the guy? Haven't we picked him up?
– We did.
– Great! And who drove him?
– I did.
– Wait, in which car?
– Your car, Pasha!

He was properly shocked, a state, though, for which he didn't have time.

There was another interesting story. In 2008, the festival was won by the French director Georgi Lazarevski. After the end of the festival, me and Georgi went to Khutorok cafe to eat borsch in bread. When we finished our borsch, it was night already. We were walking under the rain. Georgi was about to leave at 5 am. I asked him, "The weather is non-flying. How will you go?" "Nowadays planes fly in any weather," he said. We said our goodbyes and I went home.

That night was sleepless for me, as out of pure greed I had bought eight cases of peaches and needed to process them immediately. I was making compotes and listening to the radio. At around 5 am I heard that the plane, which was supposed to take passengers from Perm, had crashed.

Shocked, I went to the airport. Georgi was there, eyes wide open, "I was waiting for the plane, but it wasn't coming. Lady at the reception told me it was delayed but for some reason she was crying. Then a man entered the hall, and everyone went "what?!" Frenchman, he didn't know a word of Russian, and, it seems, the only thing he remembered was the word "what?"

Hospitality Service Coordinator

Hospitality Service Coordinator (since 2012)
Information and Accreditation Service Coordinator (from 2004 to 2012)
– My task at the festival is to make sure that everyone's well. I travel myself, go on business trips and I like it when everything is clear. You need to have a straightforward instruction when you go to a different city or country. I often repeat the same information a hundred times over - it's difficult to memorise many details. But this also helps to tune in with guests: so many boffs can happen, you get to know the person's character. Naturally, they never recognize me when they come to the festival (because it was me who studied their passport photos!) but after first introductions, it's easy to find the common language, since you know each other well after spending the last month emailing each other.

I deal with tickets' and hotel rooms' booking, prepare a tailored instruction on how to reach us. During my first years working I would coordinate arrivals and departures at night and at 9 am would already wait for guests at the accreditation desk. In the beginning, we also gave out meal coupons to the participants. And so it happens: "Bring you, put you to sleep, feed you. Who does this all? The mother of the festival!"

Over this whole time, many stories accumulated, naturally. Some still make me shiver.

It happened back in 2012, we were hosting Portuguese directors Verónica Castro and Helena Inverno. Their film Jesus for a day – about prison inmates participating in a theatre production – was in the international competition. It was their first trip to Russia, so they definitely wanted to take the train. On their way to Perm, we could only get tickets in economy class, but we got tickets in a compartment on their way back to Moscow. Despite all inconvenience, they arrived in Perm safely. They turned out to be very sociable and fun girls - everyone at the festival loved them!

When it was time for them to leave, it took me some effort to pull Verónica and Helena out from the closing party. Someone from the festival's guests also went with us to see them off at the train station. We got to Perm-2, found the train. We loudly barge into the compartment, and the girls freeze: there is a man sleeping on the top bunk. They turn around, moon-eyed, and say: "We aren't going!" It turned out that it was better in the economy class – men and women altogether, they felt safe. But it wasn't in their culture to spend a night in a compartment with an unknown man.

I'm already coming up with possible options are realize that we can't simply cancel this part of the trip: there is a plane leaving from Moscow that will take them home, everything is connected timewise. I'm trying to agree with the porter: "There is an international festival, the guests are foreigners, they are from a different culture. Please help us! The seats are great, lower bunks in a compartment. Might someone from the economy class switch seats with them?" The train was about to leave, the porter caved, said not to worry, she will come up with something.

The whole sending off party went back to the hotel relieved. Then I suddenly get a call. The porter tells me that one of the passengers doesn't have either her passport or the ticket and according to the rules. She should get off at the next stop. I don't remember what station that was but it already far away from the city! I realize that they risk ending up in the middle of nowhere, without know the language, basically without means to call. I was begging: "Please, just don't make them get off! We'll find the tickets, write to the head office of Russian Railroads, write all the guarantee letters you need". The Portuguese girls call Klava Chupina (Foreign Relations Coordinator) at the same time and assure her that the porter stole the passport and the ticket and wouldn't return them. They are in full panic mode!

Then I remember that I saw the girls show the passports and tickets to the porter and they certainly took them back. I ask them to calm down and dig up the bag while they haven't reached the next stop. The train left the station, there's no connection between the stations. The call gets interrupted. Klava and I realize fully that the next station is only in 40 minutes. While everyone else is sleeping after the festival's finish, we're waiting...

It's the middle of the night. I call the porter, and she gives me the good news: the ticket and the passport were located, the ladies fell asleep. It turned out that because of the emotions running high, the festival fuss, the man in the compartment, the passport ended up in the farthest bag pocket. That's when Klava and I really started breathing freely again!

International Jury Curator

International Jury Curator (2013, since 2017 to present)
Foreign Relations and Translations Coordinator (2014)
– I found my way to Flahertiana through Politech [Perm National Research Polytechnic University] – I studied to be a translator and we all were invited to practice our skills. I already was in my third year, so I wanted some action – it seemed cool to be hanging out with foreigners at a festival. I went to work at the accreditation desk in Ural: we were flagging down guests, went to meet them in the airport, giving out merchandise. I didn't get much of language practice but it was still a lot of fun, something was always happening, so I got hooked by this volunteer hangout.

It lasted for two or three years, and then I was invited to curate the international jury: deal with day to day matters, help interpret. That came at a great time! I wanted to carry more responsibilities. When I was volunteering, I helped Olga, jury's curator at that time. It was the year when the International Jury President – Finnish producer Iikka Vehkalahti got admitted to a hospital with appendicitis. I went to the hospital, brought food – Olga was there without a break. I thought to myself then: "Incredible! So this is what means to be "the mother of the jury" – you actually are sitting by their bedside and nursing them".

The most difficult part is when a thought attacks you: "Where is everybody?".So you start trying to get everyone together, organise everyone. Jury members are the highest-ranking people at the festival, so it's quite scary to lose them. But then I think to myself: "Wait a second! How can I lose them? They are cockroach-like [in a way they spread about], sure, but they are cockroach-like adults».

Despite their status and international recognition, the people on the jury are always incredibly open, never snobbish. Documentary filmmakers capture daily life, so they never play any part, present themselves as they are. It differs a little from what I see at the Diaghilev Festival: art people get into a character and stick to it easier, even when interacting with the people who surround them. Everyone in the documentary filmmaking is extremely self-sufficient. No wonder! How can you not be, when you have to film everything on your own. Your camera's weighing you down, and you have to cater as director, operator and sound engineer.

I spend the whole week with the jury: meet them in the hotel, accompany to the screenings, interpret the Q&A sessions and workshops. But I guess the most exciting is to be present at the final discussion when the winners are decided upon. What I've seen, the jury never likes to make this decision. The first ten minutes usually drag. And then… everything is different every time. It depends greatly on the jury's president. Some start bossing around and suggest an approach for conducting the discussion and making decisions. Some let go and simply observe the direction where it all goes. Discussions are tough but there's always a place for a compromise. I never came to a fistfight but heated discussions do happen.

In 2014 I took a shot at being a Foreign Relations and Translations Coordinator. I realized, though, that I'd like to be closer to people, to be translating 'in the field'. It's the mix of organisational work, communication and translation that attracts me. You don't get stuck performing one role, you get to multitask. A change in activities is best for me – it's more interesting than to be stuck in one place. That's why I found my place with Flahertiana, my main job with the Diaghilev Festival keeps the same rhythm.

Film director

Director, laureate of Venice Film Festival
participant and jury member of Flahertiana
– I heard that Pavel Pechenkin would be making his own festival and that it would be different from others because it would be scientific. It really worked out – the festival still proves to be useful. I still come here to learn something new and to study something: there are always lectures by philosophers and scientists.

I hardly remember the first festivals: firstly, it was a long time ago. Secondly, at that time two companies were sponsors in Ust-Kachka, one for vodka, the other – for beer, which affected the atmosphere. It was a free, fresh event.

I think this festival has the best program in our country. The selection committee manages to collect the cream from all over the world, a result that other festivals can't achieve.

In my life, fiction and documentary films meet halfway. I film fiction as documentary, and documentary as fiction. And I do it simultaneously. Currently I am finishing two feature films and – it's scary to say – eight documentaries. Quarantine gave me an opportunity to tie loose ends on projects of many years.

This year Flahertiana will also see my work as a producer in Standup is Pain – Sabrina Karabaeva and I have been working for a couple of years already, she was the scriptwriter of the project What Am I Doing Here? by Masha Sedyaeva (animated documentary series), and now it will be her directorial debut. Sabrina is a smart and thoughtful observer, she made a sad comedy, which is everything I love.

Audience manager

Audience manager (since 2015)
– The most important thing in my work is to be able to find an approach to a person, explain to them why it could be interesting and helpful to watch a film. I work together with Katya Zemlianukhina and we are, essentially, a link between the film and the audience. We don't make anyone watch anything, we suggest, explain why our films are noteworthy.

When I started working at "Premier", I didn't know how to talk to people. It became a sort of a challenge for me. During my student years, I watch many films, I wanted to discuss my impressions with someone. As I was a terminal introvert, it was incredibly difficult to share my impressions even with friends, start a dialogue, a discussion. It was the job in "Premier", at Flahertiana that helped me learn to find an approach to a person.

It's most pleasant when I receive messages after they've watched the film: "Thank you for suggesting this film. Everyone's really happy, though we even considered whether to go or not". These are the moments when I really enjoy doing my job.

Before the festival, when you just begin to inform the audience about it, you send tons of emails, spend your whole day calling people. It's sort of a grim cocktail: you seem to be promoting art but you do it with the means of cold calls - a way some vegetable slicer would be offered on the phone. Only two or three out of a hundred would respond to the call. You ask yourself while making these calls: "What am I doing this for? No one needs this". This repeats every year. When the festival draws closer, when the active dialogues are held, that's when the drive kicks in!

The most memorable screening happened during my first year – Ballet Boys and Beltracchi - The Art of Forgery. Tickets were sold out right when the ticket sales launched, people were prepared to buy tickets resold at a crazy high price, tried to get into the screening room by hook or by crook, tried to bust through volunteers. The festival gives the sense of exclusiveness: you are among very few that will see the film first. I'm extremely happy when I see a full screening room. When the room is half empty, I nag at myself – what have I done wrong?

In a sense, I collect audience's complaints. They are so absurd sometimes that it's impossible to make up. Last year, for example, a woman came to the festival and made a terrible scene right in front of the ticket office. When we tried to figure out what her problem was, how we can help her, she replied: "I will complain to the Ministry of Culture! Why are you so far away from my house?!" I think there could be no better complaint!

There was another story with a criminal undertone as if taken from a Guy Ritchie's book. Just when I started working, I was negotiating with a group who wanted to see Men's choice. We agreed with a young lady, I made a reservation and reminded her to pick up the tickets when it was time. She texted me: "Didn't Pavel come to you?". It turned out that they all pooled the money and gave it all to their groupmate who was supposed to go to "Premier" and buy out the tickets but who vanished and stopped answering their calls. They couldn't get to the festival, in the end, unfortunately - they fell out and started looking for the missing guy. After five years I'm still intrigued, what happened to Pavel.

I lead a sort of iconic cinema club "Retro" in "Premier". A cliched phrase would describe the audience best - pro-active retirees. These are the people who want to continue to grow even in their respectable age. All the film clubs make a break for the time of the festival but you can always spot representatives of the active "Retro" members, some 25-30 people, on every day of Flahertiana. They rush from the student films competition to a retrospective screening, then to see an international competition film, Russian Flahertiana, to special screenings. I leak them, so to speak, insider information - to which screening they should be buying tickets in advance. In a sense, you could already call them a professional audience.

I studied to be a geologist and ended up surrounded by films almost by chance. When I was a student, I found a part-time job in "Premier"and with time I realized that it's more interesting for me here. My love for "Premier" turned into a steady job. Someone from "Retro" club put it best about the connection between my profession and the path I chose to walk, they said: "Dima, even though you don't work as a geologist, you're still a geologist deep in your heart. You dig up such films for us that we would've never found and watched ourselves!"

Volunteer Coordinator

Volunteer Coordinator (from 2013 to 2019)
Head of Print and Decor (from 2007 to 2018)
Venue Manager (from 2013 to 2017), Head of Transport Service (2000)
– My first Flahertiana that I was working on happened in 2000 until then I only visited as a guest – to watch films and chat. I was overseeing transport that year: meeting participants, bringing them from one location to another. My functions grew after that: I coordinated advertising and all that related to printed production and decor.

Some festivals had me solving issues from morning till evening, applying finishing touches to something – no time to watch films. Only find time to watch short films. Now it's different: it's a well-coordinated team of people who've been working for some time now, and a lot of experience – in 2019 everything ran like clockwork. Some ten years ago we had a curious occasion. We were screening two films by Herz Frank, the author himself presented the films. I was present when the screening started but had to leave to solve some work issues, then I come back into the room, the audience is applauding, and there's a very long pause, all's dark. So I turn up the lights – I thought that both films finished. That's when Herz Frank tells me: "You aren't just late, you also turn the lights up". I turned the lights down quickly and we started the second film After. After that we managed to have a wonderful conversation, he signed our books and told us many interesting and helpful things.

I've been also overseeing volunteers' work for the past ten years. In some ways, it's similar to organizing extras in films. One year we realized that we have almost 100 helpers, everyone's craving to help the festival. We were a bit scared if we could find or for everyone, but in the end, we found something to do for everyone. Now we have some 60 volunteers every year. And that's quite enough! Thanks to the fact that volunteer movement develops rapidly, every year we get to welcome experienced and responsible people. There're always many people who want to be a Flahertiana volunteer.

I work in Moscow now: organize feature films production, deal with various administrative issues on set. Cinema always equals a state of force majeure. The festival is the same: you need to make decisions swiftly, react to any unforeseen circumstances. During my first Flahertiana, I sent a driver to meet guests at the airport. The driver came back without a Polish director. We didn't have mobile phones then, so I couldn't reach him. While we were coming up with a plan, we got a call from the police – "Come and pick up your Pole". I went to pick him up and asked: "How did you manage to get lost?". He replies: "I came out, saw a beautiful girl and went after her. So I missed the greeting party with the sign. Only then I realized that I got carried away and turned to the police station for help, asked them to call the festival administration". Now, how can you plan for that?

Managing director of Premier Cinema Centre

Audience manager (since 2015)
managing director of Premier Cinema Centre
– I am the managing director of Premier Cinema Centre, which means that during the festival I am responsible for the main event area of the Flahertiana. Besides, I am also actively engaged in working with people - since 2015, I and Dima Bronnikov invite spectators to the screenings. We have the same responsibilities with Dima, so almost every year we run a competition, who forms more groups. Such competitions create adrenalin at the beginning of work. One of us is running to the ticket office with a notebook in hand, "I have the first group!" You are happy, the game is on.

Two first years at Flahertiana I always had this feeling of a party. Lately, festival has become more of a habit for me. Every autumn you are looking forward to it. This year I was walking through the streets thinking, "How so? There are no ads…" And you immediately feel it must be impossible because you are used to starting forming the audience every end of August, and then at the beginning of September you contact people, and mid-September - that's it, it's the festival time.

It would have been interesting to spend at least one Flahertiana doing something other than organizing audience groups. But our festival is no entertainment. Not everybody is able to easily watch "Flahertiana" films, that's why it is difficult for us to compete with festivals where people come for a good mood only.

There is no question to me, whether to work at the festival, or not. I can't imagine anyone else to come and take my place. How would he cope? How will I know whether his results are good? I doubt anyone would have competitions here after Dima and me.


festival designer (2015, since 2017)
– The first festival's logo was done by my teacher Leonid Ivanovich Lemekhov, and I started working at Flahertiana after 20 years – a kind of continuity.

Lemekhov created the festival's main image – a diamond-shaped face of Nanook in a hood – in 1995. Then the logo was slightly simplified by Erken Kagarov's studio – it became linear in a circle. Now I simplified it even more: a white diamond with four openings that could be placed on any surface, and the surface will turn into a Nanook. The hood expanded to the size of the Universe, so to speak, but Nanook stayed in its shape.

I'm certain that when simple solutions are emerging, a space for realization and clarity emerges as well. When I was working on the festival's logo, I strived for this simplicity.

I often attend the festival as a regular member of the audience. I met my friend at Flahertiana once. I think I watched some three films in a row by that time. We decided to go get a bite. So we are sitting in the pizzeria, having lunch in silence. At some point, I started to feel like I am inside a film. Isaw storylines unfolding around me, it was so vivid and colourful. Life was happening around me and I was feeling that acutely. When we stepped outside, I told about that to my friend. It turned out that he felt the same at that moment. It could be the most vivid moment of experiencing Flahertiana: how it stepped out from the cinema hall, from the film into the real-life that surrounds me.

Cultural Programme Curator

Cultural Programme Curator (since 2016)
– For most of the year, I work in IT and join Flahertiana team only during the festival week. Culture and IT have always been opposite spheres for me: my job is about technology, business and profit increase, whereas Flahertiana is for 100% about a person. We select films for people, bring directors, so they could talk about their films, and then the audience themselves start filming and get involved in discussions. I like such a combination of different spheres, the festival fills me and brings me joy every year.

Cultural Programme Curator is a person who presents the city to the participants. Firstly, I try to compile everything noteworthy happening in Perm at the time: performances, popular spots and restaurants – many are interested in local cuisine. Some guests come with a specific plan: they want, for example, to venture out to a remote village, get to know the local culture because it's somehow connected to their remote ancestors. Or you help organise a trip or take people to well-known places like Perm-36 or Perm Opera and Ballet Theatre.

I get a lot of help from volunteers. They are really cool – medics, students from the UK, DJs, art lovers, school pupils who translate tour guides in museums for the participants. Sometimes a volunteer would get so engrossed in accompanying the director, that they'd fall into a river by accident!

One of the exotic events in our programme – a trip to the authentic Russian banya. I learned of it when I came to the first team meeting. Vladimir Sokolov, the festival's director, was joking – how do you tell your new curator, basically, a girl you've just met, that she'll have to go to a bathhouse with a bunch of strangers. I had to get up the nerve and do it!

Before working at Flahertiana I didn't fully understand what are documentary films and that Flahertiana is actually so big and wonderful. I learned everything on the go. At first, I would get surprised that documentary films can be so different in form and content. I started watching more documentaries every year. Now I watch them regularly even after the festival finishes.

Video technician

video technician (since 2013)
– Flahertiana is very much like a marathon. I do cycle racing: on track you go day after day without stops. It is the same at the festival: you come, you work, you repeat it the next day. It's nonstop but at the same time you are at a true party. All films are different, there are many auditoriums – you always switch between them and are always in the extreme mode. Of course, there is no chance to watch at least one film from start to finish.

There are true masterpieces among films, ones you want to watch from the first minute till the last. My experience helps me – I immediately understand whether it is a good film for me or not. Tick a mental box – ok, I'll need to see it. One of my favourites is 24 Snow by Mikhail Barynin. I saw the scene where the temperature falls below -50 degrees. And such amazing camera work!

I would be happy to say that documentary films strike me most but I am an admirer of any quality cinema. Music might get me. Or I feel everything is done with the soul. I don't separate fiction and non-fiction films. Every talented creative work is totally beautiful.

SMM manager of the festival

SMM manager of the festival (since 2019)
press attache of Perm Film Committee and Novy Kurs Film Studio
– When I dated a guy in my first years of university, he once cancelled our date because of Flahertiana. I then had no idea what it was. In some time I heard something about student screenings of VUZ-Flahertiana but had no wish to watch them because of that silly grudge.

Later, when I started working at New Companion newspaper, I was given a task to do several interviews. I still knew nothing about the festival but everything changed while I was preparing for the interview with Polish documentary filmmaker Maciej Drygas. I remember watching his film Abu Haraz. I had my knees wet from tears. I was crying because I understood how little I knew of life. I couldn't imagine such films existed, even though I adored cinema and dreamt of being an actress.

When we met with Maciej Drygas, he suggested having a smoke before the interview. Though I didn't smoke, I realized for some reason I needed to be there with him. It was a cold autumn but I had no time to put something on. We spent an hour and a half talking outside and I didn't get cold – it was some kind of inner break. I wish I could avoid saying "one talk changed my life" but there is no other way to put it.

Before Flahertiana, I had a teen feeling that I knew everything and was a future star. After that film and talk, I felt free: despair of such a "star" not being accepted to theatre school was left behind.

Yet, I still ended up in cinema – just on the other side of the screen. I studied the documentary filmmaking industry from inside, learned there were no film stars but just people and their professional traits. As a big substance, Flahertiana simply dragged me in. I suddenly ended up in the festival's team and film studio. Twinkle of an eye – and there I am.

creator of the "University Flahertiana" newspaper
festival catalog editor


creator of the "University Flahertiana" newspaper
festival catalog editor, program curator
– "Flahertiana" sprouted in me a long time ago from warm, cheerful and bright meetings in the studio of the artist Slava Smirnov. At that time, I was involved in my work at the Yuryatin Foundation, among other things, we published books by poets from the Russian emigration, and Slava Smirnov made visual series for them, magnificent poetic graphics. I used to come to his studio to discuss that work, and often found there a creative company – friends-artists came to visit, photographers, musicians, amazing people but then strange and unfamiliar to me. In the near future they all would have become heroes of the book "Marginals. The Ural Underground" endlessly loved and close. And then I sat squeezing myself into a chair, with my eyes sparkling from all this miracle, I tried to remember every meeting. There I met Pavel Pechenkin, and fatefully at the moment when he had just returned from Ust-Kachka where the first "Flahertiana" took place. The way Pechenkin told about the festival was inimitable – a story, exciting, deeply and paradoxically formulating the meanings of the newly born festival. Besides, he was an abyss of charm, you know. At that moment, I knew nothing about documentary films. But Pechenkin's inspiration was so infectious that I immediately fell in love with this festival – having never seen a single documentary in my life – as I could fall in love through words only.

It happened so that for many years I lived next to the festival, side by side, following it. Before my eyes its organizational hulk was growing and turning. In the corridors of the Perm Cinematheque, I was amazed at the presence of Hertz Frank, I could ran into Thomas Balmes, invariably for some reason lost my speech at the sight of the adored A.F., drank tea with the kind, red-haired, absolutely unforgettable "Uncle Tolya" Baluyev. But I remained only a spectator. For a long time. Until the "University Flahertiana" project appeared in the department of media education. Student's "Flahertiana" became for me a stream of light, and a camera "from the shoulder", and a editing table, at which I was finally able to come up with and create my own movie - more precisely, a newspaper about cinema.

A newspaper about documentary films, which was originally called "Vuz-Flahertiana", we made together with our students – journalists of Perm State National Research University. With my curatorial participation, the print edition (along with the website) was published for five years, from 2009 to 2015. It was a great newspaper. And the point, of course, is not in recognition and awards (although, they took place – trips to festivals, all kinds of diplomas for publications, a laptop as a prize and – oh god! – a voice breaking on the phone, through the festive noise and interference: "We won the Grand Prix!").

It was a very smart, talented, free and growing newspaper – because its authors were such. I am immensely grateful to all of them. They called to France, Spain and the United States to talk to the documentary filmmakers living there, they looked for the heroes of Flahertiana films to find out how their life was "after the movie", they sent reports from the "Kinoproba" festival and the Oscars, they wrote reviews on the premieres of Novy Kurs film studio, essays on the history of Perm film distribution... Documentary films opened for many of them a world without borders – beyond barriers.

"Vuz-Flahertiana" newspaper changed its student editors-in-chief and authors almost every year but these five years were filled for me with absolute shining happiness of a teacher. And then my children were born, my life changed, and the newspaper – having changed its name to "Subtitles" – continued to grow online (here it is, by the way:, independently and almost without me.

However, I can hardly imagine myself without "Flahertiana". Every year, like inhaling and exhaling – it's a holiday of real big cinema saturated with joy, communication and intense reflection. And light on the faces. Yes, exactly, that's right! Often you can't find the time to watch what you want. But the least I can do is to go into the hall during the screening of the film, at least for a minute, to see my favorite film – the light on people's faces.

Festival design director

Festival design director (from 1995 to 2007)
Leonid Lemekhov – a graphic artist, designer, fashion designer. Graduated from the V. Mukhina Leningrad Higher School of Art and Industry. Member of the Union of Artists of Russia. His works are kept in museums in Perm, Perm region, St. Petersburg, Bulgaria, in private collections in Russia and abroad. Lemekhov created the first Flahertiana design, he was a friend and a part of the festival team. He passed in May 2020.

Pavel Pechenkin, Festival President

– Lemekhov and I became friends back when he was studying in Mukha (Saint Petersburg Stieglitz State Academy of Art and Design). We were in a group – did exhibitions together, celebrated birthdays, New Years. I know his brothers really well, it was a family friendship. I found it very logical to turn to Lenya when Flahertiana's time came. Besides, there wasn't a designed of such a level in Perm. I fully trusted him when the logo was being developed. We came up with the idea that it will be a Nanook from the beginning because the most important film for us was Nanook of the North. I really like the end result.

Vladimir Sokolov, executive director of the festival

– I met Leonid Melekhov at the first festival. He developed the first design together with his brother Sergei and was always travelling back and forth between Saint-Petersburg and Perm. Lemekhov and Flahertiana are not just about a friendly partnership but about a creative conflict in a good sense. Lemekhov offered his own point of view on the festival, films, the epoch in general. The design reflected that. It's important to understand that during its first years, the festival was put together without having a clear vision, we were probing for its image in the changing world.

Lemekhov was creating a bridge in a sense between the Soviet past (there were many Soviet films presented at the first festival) and reflection on modern times. Flahertiana-1995 design I perceive, again - in a good way, as sort of a jive on everything Soviet. He created posters in Soviet-style but used Flahertiana material. Such was a period between 1995–1998 when the whole country didn't understand, where are we standing and where are we going. One felt the Soviet times very potently! The space was coexisting with people, with significations that were floating around, it sort of revealed what was happening. Without a doubt, our festival formed a holistic space, wonderful atmosphere where you wanted to be alive. You could feel it best in Ust-Kachka, where we held first editions of Flahertiana – it was a unique world.

At the same time, I should add that Lemekhov himself was quite a pro-Soviet person. That was the paradox. I always thought that designers are people who are always ahead of time. As if they are trying to glimpse the future. I saw that with all the designers we've ever worked with - you always get the feeling that they are trying to hurry us along a bit.

After the first couple of years of Flahertiana, we started to perceive the festival space and films differently. An understanding of how the festival should look like formed by the third or fourth festival. To my mind, wonderful Leonid Ivanovich, an incredible designer, saw cinema as a symbol of some part of a human being. He used that in his design as well. We asked, demanded, begged to let the films present themselves as a realisation of self. A film about a film, that's what the first festivals were about in a way. It was important for us to answer the question: "What does film think about itself?" I think that after the first three years the festival started to realise a bit more about itself, so it sort if said: "No, Leonid Ivanovich, I'm slightly different". I think that was the moment when our paths parted with him.

Petya Stabrovskiy, festival designer

– Lemekhov for me is one of the main teachers in life and my profession. Leonid Ivanovich taught at my university. The lectures he gave were sort of… different. He had a special method of conceptual thinking training.

He gave tasks that required you to combine different systems – sometimes he'd give a lyrical statement, sometimes an absurd one. Say, "a cat and a square" – you had to find a connection between these two words, images, objects and be able to present a visual expression. That taught us to go beyond the ordinary. Lemekhov gave me the tool of conceptual thinking that I use in my creative work.

You can see this approach reflected in the first Flahertiana poster. It presents two identical triangles. We perceive one as an eye, and the other as the projector's beam. Leonid Ivanovich finds similarities in a shape, puts them together, so we started reflecting the sense of these images. We realize that cinema is a view on reality, sight is a process of seeing, and a view on something. Lemekhov offers a complex image made in a simple graphic formula, where we find new sense and connections when decoding it.

Naum Kleiman is considered a godfather of Flahertiana. Film theorist and expert on Sergei Eisenstein told us how the festival got its name and why there is no hierarchy in life and cinema.
– Naum, there is a story that you found the name "Flahertiana" for the festival. How did it happen?

Pavel Pechenkin came to the Museum of Film when I was its director and told that he plans to create an international documentary film festival in Perm and is actively looking for the name and themes. I then said that it would be great to honour the memory of American documentary filmmaker Robert Flaherty, who showed new ways of filmmaking: not studio shooting or sensational reports and chronicle.
Nanook Robert Flaherty is called the Father of Documentary, however, this is not fully accurate. His works "Nanook of the North", "Moana", "Man of Aran" can hardly be considered purely documentary. After all, Nanook, for example, played the role of himself, played his daily routine situations. However, at the same time, he remained a "document," an Eskimo, demonstrating the perennial lifestyle of his people. Flaherty is the embodiment of cinematography as such. In 1943 in an interview with the Canadian journalist, director Sergei Eisenstein said that the greatest impact on early Soviet filmmaking was made not by David Wark Griffith with his "Intolerance" as often mentioned, but by Robert Flaherty with his "Nanook." Dziga Vertov, Sergei Eisenstein, Lev Kuleshov – all of them were greatly influenced by this film but each director took something of their own. Lev Kuleshov borrowed the documentary manner of filming for his feature films, Dziga Vertov – chose the documentary approach as the very true essence of filmmaking, and Sergei Eisenstein filmed all together outside the concept of documentary-feature film, in particular, he developed the theory of character type (after all, Nanook is an ideal character type). Therefore, Flaherty played a huge role in our culture and the formation of Soviet and American avant-garde films.

Nanook of the North, Robert Flaherty, 1922
Besides, he was a very honest artist who was never about filling his pockets but invested all the money he earned into new films. He never compromised with his vision and remained faithful to his lifelong passion. He himself defined the main theme of his work as "God's man in God's world". This is not a theological but rather humanistic position – faith in good and creative nature of a man. So, for me, Robert Flaherty is one of the top figures on the cinematographic pedestal.

Pavel also mentioned that he was very interested in showing ethnographic films. So altogether this name "Flahertiana" suited a new festival. I am very glad that he managed not only to keep the festival going for years but also to keep its name.
– Did you come to the festival?

I came once in 2004, we organized a conference of the National Federation of Festivals NAFF. I remember a wonderful audience at all festival shows, people even stood in the aisles when all seats were taken. It seemed to me that people treated films not as exotic artwork but as a true expression of life's diversity.

It is really important that the festival includes films of both established directors and newcomers. I think Robert Flaherty himself would have been very happy to participate in such a festival.
– Talking about Robert Flaherty you said that documentary was his lifelong passion. Is it a special mission to be a documentary director?

I think so. This kind of film brings modest profits and little or delayed fame. In time though, documentary directors could become even more famous than some big movie stars. Trendy Oscar winners, being really talented artists, are not remembered for long. Documentary filmmakers, whether they were famous or not, could be rediscovered later, and their films and ideas get the second lease. The Internet revived many documentary names, like the fathers of documentary filmmaking, magnificent Robert Flaherty, Dziga Vertov, Chris Marker but also many others, less known to the general public. Those directors captured events, people, inventions, tragedies, patterns of life and thoughts of the world within the last 100 years. Their films don't get old. Fiction films get dated, have short shelf life while good documentaries get better with years like good wine becoming true masterpieces. I hold nothing against fiction films in general just as Dziga Vertov but as a historian, I see their different lifespan.
– Why documentaries don't age?

I can endlessly theorise about it. But in short, first of all, they are a document of its time. Each person wants to explore the times before him. For me, time travel via documentary is much more educational than via fiction film.
A fiction film can indeed disclose the human mindset and ambiance of the epoch. But only documentary works as a real time machine.

Secondly, documentary is like DNA, it creates new films as filmmakers often need footage of the past for film editing. Many fiction film directors watch documentaries to understand the looks and behaviours of the people they plan to shoot about. It's like kneeling down to touch the earth under your feet. Do you remember Greek myth hero Antaeus? Antaeus was supposed to defeat Hercules, he got his straight only after touching mother Earth. Documentary is like Earth for Antaeus. One could even say they are more meaningful than fiction films.
– What you say is more relevant to old films. But why in your opinion we should watch films about now?

Firstly, now will become yesterday tomorrow. And secondly, films about current times are a tool of self-reflection. They mirror the epoch via spectators. Each director wants his film to be seen as it only becomes alive in the public eye. From this perspective, festivals are very important. They give films a chance to be released on TV or online (luckily, now we have endless internet platforms for the film to be seen on). Usually, each festival has a retrospective of a classical director or shows at least one film from the past. Why? Is it a sign of respect for those who shaped this art? Of course, but also to connect eras, countries, and cultures. I've seen it has been done at Flahertiana when the Urals met Mexico through Sergei Eisenstein, a true miracle, the connection of time and space. It is equally important to relate ourselves to our fathers at all times, otherwise, our children will not know who they were. The genealogy of film reflects the evolution of the world; therefore, festivals should show works of at least one old master.

– In one of your interviews, you said that there is no hierarchy of festivals. Do you still think so? If yes, why?

I don't accept hierarchy in anything. For me, the president is the most dependent person than any of us. If someone thinks he has all the power, he's crazy. The same refers to festivals. I'm a little scared of big establishments. I have been on jury at almost all major world festivals, in Venice, Berlin, Locarno, Toronto, except for Cannes. There are so many conventions, they are very dependent on companies, advertisers, stars – whether they like it or not, eventually they form a trend, not history. Their selectors think: "How can we not show this film with this super star?" or "If this company is ready to give us a lot of money for advertising, how can we not show this movie?". Giant festivals with giant budgets and giant stars largely depend on the giants of film production. This mega filmmaking network, surprisingly, is becoming obsolete. Very few stars of their era outlive this era. How many stars from the 1920s people remember? Although there were so many celebrities! Who now remembers German actor Harry Piel, who was popular in Russia? We know Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin, but not Douglas Fairbanks. He was an excellent actor but now he is remembered by film experts only.
Now, in terms of geography. I believe that Flahertiana for the Urals and central Russia is one of the main festivals. It does not shoot for the stars, but for discovering new realities. Perm became one of the main hubs on the film map of Russia. Although a small budget does not allow the festival to be as international as it wants to be, thanks to Flahertiana, it became possible to watch documentaries in Perm for the whole year. You can bring, for example, films from Brazil, from It's All True, the main documentary film festival in Latin America, or from Japan, from the first Asian Documentary Film Festival in Yamagata, so that viewers in Perm and in the Urals can see them. Such festivals operate outside of the hierarchy and form a real film development network.
We don't know how talent is born. Bakhtyar Khudoynazarov, one of the best Tadjik directors, as a boy saw films of great Indian director Satyajit Ray in Dushanbe. This not only inspired him to make films but also became a benchmark of poetic interpretation of life. Festival films help a person suddenly see something that guides his life or his interests in a new light (not necessarily connected with filmmaking, it could be ecology, medicine, human rights activities, history, teaching...). It also widens one's outlook, tolerance for difference and civil identity. We do not know how many children from Perm, for example, watched some films at Flahertiana and realised that their heart belongs to film making or some other area, and discovered the talent that was hidden or they were not aware of.

So, what kind of hierarchy can we talk about here? Small regional festivals can be equally important for the fates of people as the Cannes Film Festival for the fate of films. Each country besides its capital has many cities and towns, big and small, and they all need film celebrations of their own.
– So in festival films, talent and inspiration are most valued?

Not only creative talent, but life passion, the discovery of oneself and the world around.

I also think that festival programmes should not have any hierarchy; choices should not be made based on country of origin, styles, genres and names of directors. We have no idea what is happening in Southeast Asia, for example, while they have amazing film tradition. There are very interesting Taiwanese, Cambodian, Vietnamese films. Do we watch many European films? Say, films from Slovenia, Holland, Portugal? Where are all these wonderful films and talents? And even French and Italian films that are shown in cinemas are purely commercial.
Sometimes we find spiritual soulmates not where we think they are. I'll tell you my story. I first visited South Korea to participate in a small independent film festival in Zhengzhou. I was invited to present films of our "thaw" period. They have never seen either Marlen Khutsiev, Gleb Panfilov or Vasily Shukshin. In Korea and around the world they know more or less the classic films of the 1920s but not the 1930s. They know Tarkovsky, two films only though. After the retrospective, An Cha, the program director of the festival, suddenly said: "I knew that we should show Soviet films, but I did not think that they would be so close to us, not exotic as I expected". For us, equally, Korea sounds very exotic, but it turned out that Korean films are also very close to us, even essential, they give "this is about me" feeling. Then we brought a large retrospective of Im Kwon-taek's films to Moscow and everyone was totally blown away by his wonderful films.
– Did you bring retrospectives of documentaries to some festivals?

Once in America, we showed the classic film by Vladimir Erofeev "Roof of the World", 1928. After the screening, a woman from National Geographic magazine ran up to me: "How can we buy rights for this film"? It was a complete sensation for the Americans that in the 1920s there were not only Dziga Vertov and Esfir Shub. This Erofeev's film, very Flahertianian by its nature, was simply forgotten about for many years.
– How important is it for the documentary filmmaker to be on top of current issues?

The depiction of current actual issues is only one of many genres in documentary, it is very wide. Films about urgent acute problems is social and political journalism, it has a lot of genres within; from historical memoirs "Triumph over Violence" by Mikhail Romm to Alexey Navalny's political investigations. But journalism is only one thread. There are a lot of other genres and methods, for example, film observation. In the 1960s and 70s, we had several different schools of documentary cinema different in the methods of observation, living in life: the films of Lenkinochronika Studio by Pavel Kogan and Peter Mostovoy "Look at the Face" and "Marinino Life," the films shot in Riga Studios by Uldis Brown and Herz Frank, "These are horses" by Tolomush Okeev and a lot of other wonderful works of the Kyrgyz school.

Country of Birds, Svetlana Bychenko, 2013
I really like the approach of director Svetlana Bychenko. Among her many works I was particularly impressed by the series of films called "Country of Birds". It is not only about different birds, but also about us, people. It's really worth seeing, especially by children who feel differently towards nature and themselves.

World classical documentary fund also has some phenomenal films which are hardly known in Russia, but which are important both as artworks and based on their method of shooting. For example, Merian Cooper and Ernest Schoedsack are most known as creators of a popular action movie about giant gorilla in New York, "King Kong" (1933). However, before that in 1925 they made a true ethnographic masterpiece "Grass. A Nation's Battle for Life". It was about the Bakhtiari tribe that has been wandering through the desert in southern Iran for centuries in search of pastures for its herds. They lived for a year with this tribe and filmed their life. Two years later they shot a documentary-feature adventure film on the border of Laos and Thailand "Chang: A Drama of the Wilderness". The film is about a peasant living in the jungle and fighting wild animals. It has become a box office hit around the world. These films are not only ethnographic heritage, they also show the history of the human exploration of the world; we see how people lived for thousands of years and what they did to provide for our current comfortable lifestyle.

So, nonfiction films have a lot of objectives and genres, but no hierarchy.

– In an interview for the You-tube channel "Eschonepozner" you said that it is very important for a human to be a citizen. What role does documentary play in this?

This is one of the main objectives of documentary films. "Free man" does not mean that he is free from everything, on the contrary, free people have a number of obligations: family, friends, state, society, their own business. For us to become real citizens, we must foster this engagement in others in ourselves. Belarusians now chant at the protests: "One for all, all for one". Does anybody remember that this is the motto of Alexander Duma's musketeers, and it was also used by the sailors during mutiny on battleship "Potemkin" in 1905 and was captured in Sergei Eisenstein's film? The motto became a civic slogan. Art of all sorts, including films, has a profound effect on fostering civic consciousness. My personal favourite example of raising responsibility in a person is Alexander Pushkin's novel "Captain's Daughter." As you remember, there is an epigraph "Take care of your honour from a young age". A simple saying followed by a brilliant novel – that's the beginning of raising a citizen. Documentary, I think, can and should stick to this motto.

You-tube channel "Eschenepozner", 2020
Education of all sorts is important and there should not be any hierarchies as well. So many individuals and things influence us: parents, school, environment, art, our mistakes, our friends. If a documentary is to become a friend to each of us, then it will not educate forcibly. A sense of friendliness to its viewers is one of the aesthetic principles of documentary films.

Fyodor Savelyevich Khitruk, a famouse animation artist, once suggested me to arrange a retrospective where children would watch cartoons meaningfully, not just as changing pictures. So, at the Museum of Cinema we organised AnimaDoc programme where animated and documentary short films were shown in one screening.

Anima is a soul, and Doc is a doctor. It means animation plus documentary equals soul healing. Artificially created pictures and real-life chronicles, they seem like exact opposites, However, they looked great together; the children were drawn into it. Why am I talking about it? You can consider documentary as many things: journalism, sketch of nature, evidence of life unfairness, demonstration of human strengths and weaknesses. But soul healing is universal for all genres, styles, political, economic and other hierarchies.
Life Code according to Pavel Pechenkin
There is nothing that can satisfy you completely.

The most important thing is to feel whether you are going in the right direction: what if you need to go southeast, and you've rushed to the northwest. I feel that I took the right turn. And the further, the more.

I know how to answer all the questions of people who constantly ask themselves: what do I do, why do I live, what to do next? Watch documentaries. You will understand everything with its help.

Freedom is a category of responsibility that gives you satisfaction.

There is nothing independent in the world. There are simply different focal points, and when you find yours, it entails work, dependence on other people. For example, you are interested to participate in the elections of deputies of the Perm City Duma, so do it, this is your focal point. Will it be interesting to me? It definitely won't. And such an unusual focal point as Flahertiana I really like, I found mine. I've expressed myself in it.

My genes are built in such a way that I love to watch the grass grow, the birds sing. I'm a villager, born in a village.

I don't want to mow the grass near my house. I want to make bridges over the grass so that all the grass remains alive, and there is a strawberry meadow, and the mushrooms grow. This is my half hectare of freedom.

About 10 years I spent in libraries. It was then I got a real education, and it was an amazing time, very rewarding. When I read books I did not perceive information as on TV – just watching and falling asleep – but I was looking for something that would allow me to live and never die. It was a passion for knowledge. At that time, I didn't even understand what was happening to me.

I've been always longing for a teacher, a mentor to guide me, that I never had. Later I realized that this was no accident: my path is too individual.

I immersed myself in psychology, philosophy, ethnology. I came across an old edition of Alexander Afanasyev "The Poetic Outlook on Nature by the Slavs" published in 1861. I'd been living with this book for almost a year. Like a sponge I'd absorbed its meanings.

Until you feel passion for knowledge, there's no fucking chance you succeed.

What could be more natural than a person playing the role of himself? Is it possible to put an equasl sign, for example, between "Man Who Put Idea In" and a feature film? Look at Kuzmich! No actor can be compared to him. We go to the cemetery of his horses, he takes the skull, lifts it up and utters an almost biblical monologue: this mare gave birth to this one, then this one gave birth to that, and so on. And it's all true, I didn't make it up.

Such films as "Parasite" make you feel a part of global noosphere. People who live on the other side of the Earth, with a different culture, think the same way you do. This is real art.

In everything that relates to Perm Cinematheque, I've had a hand: film commission, Flahertiana, cinema center. The dominant feature has always been the idea of combining creative forces. I have organizational skills which never allowed me to live in peace, I've always tried to unite something, probably from an excess of energy.

The capital is where you are. Your homeland is the center of the world. To realize this is the first sign of human freedom, non-provincial thinking. Paris, for example, is a concentration of myths. And they were not always created by the French. Hemingway, Remarque... Humans are able to communicate with their own kind only in the space of Myth – a myth with a capital letter. Flahertiana Festival – "a moveable feast" – is already a part of the image of Perm, the myth of the territory…

Flahertiana is like love, it must be lived.
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