Elena Demidova: Kazan Muslim Film Festival Helps Us to Understand Each Other Better
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Elena Demidova: Kazan Muslim Film Festival Helps Us to Understand Each Other Better

27 April 2019

Today, the press-conference with the directors of full-length documentaries with the participation of Reza Golami Motlag (Iran) and Elena Demidova (Russia) was held at the 15th Kazan Muslim Film Festival. 

The documentary film by Elena Demidova, The Etigelov Phenomenon. The Mystery of the Buryat Lama, is focused on Dashi Dorzhi Etigelov, whose body is now preserved in Ivolginsky Buddhist temple, Republic of Buryatia, Russia. The film crew visited several places connected with the life of the lama. This film is an opportunity to discover how Buddhists live in Russia and how they fit to the overall context of the country. ‘This work is about a miracle, which Buddhist lamas are currently trying to understand and realize’, explained Elena Demidova. 

The Iranian documentary, Exchange, aims to present the traditions of Turkmen people living in north-eastern Iran. The community have adopted a tradition of exchanging boys and girls between the families in order to marry them in the future. Sometimes it is done at early age without the consent of children. The film tells the story of a 36-year-old Alirez, who, as his sister, became a victim of this tradition. He was forced to marry his cousin. But after a few years, he meets his love and decides to break the old tradition. According to the director of the film, Reza Golami Motlag, this situation appeared in a small village in Iran located in 200 kilometres from the nearest city. Prior to this hero, such an exchange was generally accepted and no one protested against this tradition. 

Discussing the features of documentary films, Reza Golami Motlag noted that the documentary film audience is more serious, professional and not focused only on entertainment. Elena Demidova expressed the opinion that history is important in documentary films: ’Nevertheless, both fiction and documentary are still movies. The core is storytelling, which could emotionally be connected to spectators’. 

As regards the Kazan Muslim Film Festival, Reza Golami Motlag highlighted that this is his second participation in the event: ‘It is a good festival, I really like it. The only thing I would suggest is to limit it more thematically to Muslim culture. This is my personal opinion’, he said. 

At the same time, Elena Demidova did not agree with him. In her opinion, the festival is interesting primarily because it shows not only the religious life, but the whole image of life of the Muslim world: ‘The festival brings understanding between various cultures especially in our diverse country’, she explained.