Tag Archives: Siberia

This Russian-English app by Igor Kalinin will uncover a seasoned, as well as inspiring, international traveller in You

To download this free Android app you are invited to пожалуйста click here.

Download our essential Words Do Wonders app
WordsDoWonders – Android App by Igor Kalinin in partnership with Steppes in Sync

The Words Do Wonders app created by Ukraine’s India-based IT master Igor Kalinin in partnership with Steppes in Sync targets a seasoned, as well as inspiring, international traveller.

We have scoured the papers and flipped international news channels for you. We bet you know lots of words in our collection. The philological pearls that we worked hard to put at your fingertips 365 days a year are those inspired, consumed and deployed daily by the readers and writers, movers and shakers of this world. We are talking Bloomberg TV, FT and Monocle. We are talking WORDS THAT DO WONDERS TODAY!

The value the Words Do Wonders app brings to you is building on the thesaurus that your brain has collected over the years. We enrich it, streamline it for that cocktail chat on the roof of a posh NYC hotel to generate new opportunities; for that negotiation in a breezy Dubai bar to result in the deal you just wanted.

You can pick your words from three levels:

Words Do Wonders Basic – words that you know but we will help you go deeper and wider. You’ll be equipped to frequently impress your interlocutor

Words Do Wonders Intermediate – words that you think you know but we challenge that certainty of yours, one word at a time

Words Do Wonders Advanced – words that you need to know to become a successful and inspiring jet-setter

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Movie parlors to come and go: dress as on-screen characters in Chuvashia, don-t text in Ukraine-s only spherical cinema and enjoy the wind in Kabul-s Smell-o-Vision

What is it about movie parlors that makes us turn nostalgic?

Would you cry over a movie house that kicks out patrons for texting during a show? And if I told you that this is a parlor where viewers eat only when the on-screen characters do and everyone is to dress as a particular character, and.. “cold beers are brought to your seat by black-clad waitstaff?”

Should the world’s oldest operating outdoor picture garden in Australia be preserved almost unchanged — with loos marked “Humphrey’s” and “Vivien’s” “as a nod to early Hollywood stars” — or should it be fitted with repurposed car seats à la gastropub theater in Brooklyn’s waterfront DUMBO district? For all our non-NYC cinemagoers: DUMBO stands for ‘Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass.’

In this Calvert Journal pieceSergey Novikov — Cheboksary, Chuvash Republic-born photographer who self-published FC Volga United, a photobook about football fans who live along Europe’s longest and largest river in terms of discharge and watershed, the Volga — sings on ode to Russia’s dying movie houses:

With more and more cinemas in Russia losing out to multiplexes — sometimes abandoned, sometimes used for discos and fairs or taken over by Jehovah’s Witnesses

Here is where Al Jazeera’s Jane Ferguson laments that Afghanistan’s once thriving cinema industry has not returned after 2011 ousting of the Taliban:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ECWJxmNwDEM]

While in this 2012 article for Asahi Shimbun, one of the five national newspapers in Japan, Kazuhisa Kurokawa announces the coming down of the curtain on a part of the cinema landscape of Tokyo “that first enraptured Japanese audiences just over a century ago.”

On Oct. 21, the lights went down in the last remaining three movie houses in Asakusa, a historic district just off the Sumida River where the nation’s first movie theater opened in 1903. The structures escaped the devastation of the Great Tokyo Air Raid of 1945 by U.S. bombers but were too old to be retrofitted to withstand a major earthquake. The theaters were operated by Chuei Co., a subsidiary of Shochiku Co.

Shochiku Co. produced films by Yasujirō Ozu, Takeshi Kitano, Akira Kurosawa and Taiwanese New Wave director Hou Hsiao-Hsien.

SHOCHIKU Co., Ltd logo
SHOCHIKU Co., Ltd logo

While the final screenings in Asakusa included Amazing Spiderman and Men in Black III, Ukraine’s budding film-maker Masksym Madonov deemed it right to bring an abandoned 1990-built cinema in his hometown of Radekhiv, Lviv Oblast back to life and make a documentary about the rare four screenings.

And as we decry the vanishing cinemas with history, we embrace all kinds of technology-packed movie houses. Here Bloomberg’s Jon Erlichman takes us on a tour of a South Korea-stemming 4DX test cinema.. with Smell-o-Vision in Hollywood, California. Full package there: moving chairs, scent, smoke, and wind.

Purpotedly the only spherical cinema in Ukraine operates under the name Atmasfera. The action takes place inside the Soviet-built Kyiv planetarium, on its dome screen.

Throughout its 90-year history, the largest cinema in northern Europe, Oslo’s Kino, “has kept up with technological advances, from pioneering Cinemascope in the 1950s to the late-1990s THX-aimed overhaul.”

Chicago’s Uptown Theater is not that up-to-date.  Once one of the largest in America, the Uptown “still stands at Broadway and Lawrence, its decaying interior like a mausoleum,” as late film criticism celebrity Roger Ebert put it.

This view of the Uptown Theatre’s auditorium mezzanine or loge seating area comes from Eric Holubow, photographer behind a cofee table book called Abandoned – America’s Vanishing Landscape.

chi

Note the three colors of cove lighting and careful decoration of the plaster underneath the balcony and surrounding ventilation grilles. These atmospheric effects make one forget one’s troubles and that one is sitting under an immense balcony. The Uptown’s cove lighting system is controlled from a master lighting control panel on the stage. The lights were intended to help encapsulate the audience through the subtle use of changing colors. They could be preset and adjusted to fit the mood of what was being seen on the screen, watched in a live stageshow or heard from the organ and orchestra.

An abandoned movie palace hidden in the back of a Brooklyn furniture showroom... Source: AbandonedNYC
An abandoned movie palace hidden in the back of a Brooklyn furniture showroom… Source: AbandonedNYC

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by Andy Kozlov

As the Baltic Pitching Forum deadline is nearing, I go through the notes, photos and business cards that I brought from last week’s trip to Estonia, my first visit to the Baltics. Will it be long till I next walk the cobblestones of Tallinn’s Old Town, each step done carefully while trying to preserve the soles of my once brand new Portuguese shoes.

Did you know that much of classic Tarkovsky film Stalker was filmed in Tallinn? Kyiv-Tartu-Tallinn. Circa 20 hours by bus. Apart from being my first time in Estonia, this trip was a chance for me to see the landscapes of Russia and Belarus for the first time in life.
Did you know that much of classic Tarkovsky film Stalker was filmed in Tallinn? Kyiv-Tartu-Tallinn. Circa 20 hours by bus. Apart from being my first time in Estonia, this trip was a chance for me to see the landscapes of Russia and Belarus for the first time in life.

It was Erika Laansalu of the Estonian Filmmakers Union who shared with me and my Ukrainian colleague Phillip Rojen a selection of film publications that prompted this post.

After the meeting with Ms Laansalu at the Estonian Cinema House, it didn't take me long to delve into their most recent documentaries catalog that she gave us. Before the meeting, I spotted a Chicago-themed lounge in the neighborhood and this is where I went to reflect on the meeting and future prospects of coproduction between Ukraine and Estonia.
After the meeting with Ms Laansalu at the Estonian Cinema House, it didn’t take me long to delve into their most recent documentaries catalog that she gave us. Before the meeting, I spotted a Chicago-themed lounge in the neighborhood and this is where I went to reflect on the meeting and future prospects of coproduction between Ukraine and Estonia.

What I found most appealing in the overview of past documentary film projects produced by Estonians is the inquisitiveness of the nation that gave us Skype and Monocle’s editor-in-chief Tyler Brûlé about the world and the place of slightly over a million of Estonians in it.

This is reflected in the three trends that I see in the Estonian dox:

1. Estonians abroad. Example: The Samurai of Chernobyl by Ivar Heinmaa that observes the anatomy of two great disasters – Chernobyl 1986 vs. Fukushima 2011, — life of the inhabitants of the danger zone and draws the viewers attention to the 5000 men that Soviet Estonia sent   to Chornobyl in 1986. Between 1986-1993, 28 of them committed suicide.

2. Life of indigenous peoples, especially in the Russian Federation. When I mentioned this trend to an Global Estonian transmedia friend, Kris Haamer, sitting inside Estonia’s oldest cinema, Kino Sõprus (literally Cinema Friendship), he suggested that, in all my future conversations about Estonian documentary trends, I shouldn’t overlook the fact that the second President of Estonia was one of the people that fall into this category.

The Film The Winds of the Milky Way (Linnutee tuuled) by Lennart Meri (yes, the Lennart Meri Tallinn International Airport’s Meri), shot in co-operation with Finland and Hungary, was banned in the Soviet Union, but won a silver medal at the New York Film Festival. In Finnish schools, his films and texts were used as study materials.

In 1941, the Meri family was deported to Siberia. Whilst in exile, Lennart Meri grew interested in Uralic languages that he heard around him, the language family of which Estonian is a part. His interest in the ethnic and cultural kinship amongst the scattered Uralic family had been a lifelong theme within his work.

3. Foreigners in Estonia and the Russian minority, as a sub-category. Example of these is Jüri Sillart’s Volli, Sempre Volli, a film about a charismatic Italian entrepreneur in Estonia, the multimillionaire Ernesto Achille Preatoni, now an Estonian citizen.

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You can contact the author of this piece on a.kozlov@steppesinsync.com

Sri Lankans cover Zimbabwean engineer helping Mongolians in sustainable Ninja-Mining, while Estonians document Eastern Ukrainian kids digging for coal

If you were the Mongolian government how would you keep track of nomadic population that you are to serve? One option would be to come up with something called  baghs. Most of these administrative units are of an entirely virtual nature. Their purpose is to sort the families of nomads in the sum (district) into groups, without a permanent human settlement. The 21 aimags (provinces) of Mongolia are divided into 329 sums.

Map of Mongolia by the United Movement of Mongolian Rivers and Lakes
Map of Mongolia by the United Movement of Mongolian Rivers and Lakes

Mongolia’s capital city of  Ulaanbaatar is located roughly at the center of an aimag called Töv. We are heading towards Zaamar sum, located 180 km northwest of Ulaanbaatar. Zaamar is bordered by the Tuul River on its west side. According to the Wikipedia community, the river is being polluted by Ulaanbaatar’s central sewage treatment facility as well as by gold mining in the Zaamar area.

Pit #8, an Estonian-Ukrainian documentary about youth small-scale miners in Eastern Ukraine
Pit #8, an Estonian-Ukrainian documentary about youth small-scale miners in Eastern Ukraine

As a consequence, the Tuul, Orkhon and Selenge rivers have become more and more polluted because of the use of antiquated technologies by mining companies. As these rivers are the main tributaries of Lake Baikal in the Russian Federation, the world’s largest and oldest lake (at 25 million years) has faced a significant increase in its level of pollution.

His name is Patience Singo. He is a mining engineer from Zimbabwe. Just the right guy to be covered by Steppes in Sync because it is Mongolia where Mr Singo settled down.

Thanks to Deutsche Welle, we now know that the Zimbabwean had worked in various development projects across Africa before joining the Swiss Development Council and the government of Mongolia in a sustainability project for small-scale miners.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles by Stjepan Šejić of Croatia
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles by Stjepan Šejić of Croatia

Thanks to the Colombo-based The Sunday Times of Sri Lanka, we now know that these miners are known locally as “ninja miners”  because of the green tubs strapped to their backs. Remeber the 1980’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?

The idea that foreign aid workers can only come from developed countries is  not exclusive to Mongolia. “How can an African guy possibly help us?” some had asked there confused by Patience Singo’s presence.

“I think the development challenges that Mongolia has, identify with the challenges that exist in Africa,” Singo responds with patience. He believes someone from the West who has never experienced such challenges himself may not be able to pass on solutions in an inclusive manner.

Singo also had noticed something he found rather funny. In the development sector, it often happens that Western experts are sent for training in one developing country so they can gain experience in such a context and then pass it on to people in other majority world nations.

About 100,000 Mongolians have joined mining industry  in the past five years. Many lost their jobs during the country's transition from Communism and initially became traditional herders. But two devastating winters, known as dzuds, wiped out a third of Mongolia's livestock in 2001 and 2002, and thousands of families joined the gold rush, scouring sites rejected by large mining companies for quartz or crumbs of gold. Ninjas earn between 5$ and 10$ a day, often more than teachers, doctors and government officials. (Photo courtesy of An Hua, Fnac Murcia and quehacerenmurcia.com)
About 100,000 Mongolians have joined mining industry in the past five years. Many lost their jobs during the country’s transition from communism and initially became traditional herders. But two devastating winters, known as dzuds, wiped out a third of Mongolia’s livestock in 2001 and 2002, and thousands of families joined the gold rush, scouring sites rejected by large mining companies for quartz or crumbs of gold. Ninjas earn between 5$ and 10$ a day, often more than teachers, doctors and government officials. (Photo courtesy of An Hua, Fnac Murcia and quehacerenmurcia.com)

Any other notes to take about South-South cooperation from this Zimbabwean roaming the vast steppes of Central Asia? “Mongolians are used to being nomadic, to living in an individualistic culture. But as Africans we are community-based people, there is a unique African value we call Ubuntu. And I always try to bring that community culture into the team, because of my African background.”

The project’s accountant Otgonsuren Gombosuren appreciates that.

“They are very formal,”she says about the Swiss people she meets working with the SDC. “They only say ‘Guten Tag’ and ‘Auf Wiedersehen’ and give me some papers to sign.”

Speaking of her Zimbabwean colleague, Gombosuren gets excited, “We are doing all the planning and finance together. I learned a lot of English vocabulary from him.”

Back to the West by way of Ukraine where Estonian filmmaker Marianna Kaat recently produced Pit #8, documentary about young coal miners in Snizhne, Donetsk oblast.

In Spain, Álvaro Laiz (his Facebook) and David Rengel of An Hua association have partnered with Fnac for a series of  photoexbits around the country to feature their work inspired by the miners of Mongolia.

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