Logline: A non-narrative hand-painted visual poem about diaspora, homeland, and the mass-deportations of the Kalmyk people during WWII.
Length: 06 min 00 sec
Director: Alisi Telengut
Producer: Alisi Telengut
About the director and producer:
Alisi Telengut is a director and animation artist, interested in producing visual poetry, lyrical representations of memory, and experimental ethnography. Her recent works received awards and have been exhibited in various worldwide film venues and festivals.
Looking for (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists): distributors, film festival directors, journalists and producers for the next project.
Funders: Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Filmmaker Assistance Program of National Film Board of Canada (NFB), Henry P. and Thomas Schreiner Documentary Award.
Made in association with: the Filmmaker Assistance Program of National Film Board of Canada
Release date: Summer 2016
Congratulations! Why did you make your film?
Nutag-Homeland is an animated film, a non-narrative visual poem about ideas of diaspora, homeland, and an example of mass-deportations in human history. It functions as a surrealist requiem for the Kalmyk people who were deported en masse by USSR from 1943-1956; half of them died before they were finally allowed to return home in 1957.
First of all, I am not of Kalmyk origin. My interests in the subject of diaspora and homeland, as well as the tragic experience of te Kalmyks, are deeply connected with my own background.
Even though I grew up in urban environment, I spent most of my childhood with my grandparents who used to live as nomads on the Mongolian grassland and I was influenced by their ideological and cultural content of nomadic life.
However, the particular nomadic lifestyle is in crisis when agricultural lands and urban areas have been extremely expanded. Nomadic tribes became very small populations in the world, the lifestyle is in great danger, and the belief systems and wisdom are gradually disappearing.
Since I was a child, I have always been an ethnic minority in different societies, I consider myself as the different, “the other”, and I can relate to the Kalmyk people and their tragic experience, the marginalized, the underrepresented, and the important and illuminating concert of “the Other” by Emmnuel Levinas.
Home is true home in infinite scope when the Self opens and welcomes the Other. At the same time, beyond the key concepts of displacement and homeland of the notion of diaspora. I think that to some extent, everyone is diaspora as soon as being born since one can never go back and there is only one destination.
Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?
Nutag-Homeland is an archetype of diasporic generations, homeland and the issue of “the other”. I think the term diaspora definitely has historical, theological and romantic tones to it.
From “The Fall of Man” of Adam and Eve, the diaspora of Moses, Homer’s Odyssey, to the deportations and murders of Jews, and the recent Syrian refugee crisis. There are endless examples of the concept of diaspora as a historical, universal and eternal subject of human being. At the same time, the diaspora splits with the sense of home which is not simply a physical shelter, residence, or geographical remarks, it is a sense of bingeing in terms of feelings, trust, loved ones, life and spirituality.
How do personal and universal themes work in your film?
As I mentioned in previous questions, the personal theme is that I’m as a diaspora and an ethnic minority, I consider myself as The Other and I can relate to the Kalmyk people and their tragedy. The universal theme is that the tragic deportations and forced migrations of the Kalmyk people are a typical example of diaspora.
Their experiences of the hardships of displacements is not an isolated incident in the past. Diaspora is an archetype as an eternal subject of human beings, exists throughout human history beyond the cultural and language differences and geo-political devisions. The Kalmyks are diaspora and definitely The Other.
How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development and production?
During the process of making the film, my understanding of homeland has extended much more than historical and universal events. I was greatly influenced by the debate between Heidegger and Levinas on the subject of homecoming and dwelling which has a much profound philosophical implications in the current world.
On the other hand, although I initiated a documentary approach in doing research, gathering materials, engaging communities, conducting interviews and conversations to construct the film Nutag-Homeland, it is not meant to be a didactic, historically informative, traditional documentary.
In order to create the final work of representation, I experimented with interview soundtracks, archival footage, and animated materials, which were unified and redistributed several times before the final aesthetic decision for the film.
It is natural for me to represent the subject and experimental ethnography in a poetic way. To respect the poetry of the world of the image, and the rhythm of the heartfelt song, I decided to remove all interview soundtracks in the animatic as well as the finished film because of their informative and didactic aspects that I felt disturbed the lyrical and poetic quality of the overall work
What type of feedback have you received so far?
People think this film's visually beautiful and they were impressed by its technique.
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
I want my work, as an animated film, to be more than simply a work of beauty and technical aspects for appreciation.
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com?
I hope people will appreciate this piece as a film poem to be experienced. Through the tragic history of the mass deportations of the Kalmyks, Nutag-Homeland carries the voice of the other and the diaspora. With this universal theme of human being, this film reflects the issue of homeland and homecoming which is one of the most important social political topics in the current world.
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?
Distributors, film festival directors and journalists.
What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?
Alternative narrative, experimental documentary, and film poem vs. Linear narrative, traditional documentary (such as talking heads), informative and didactic approach
Feelings, emotion vs. Rationality
What are the key creatives developing or working on now?
I'm developing a short film that is based on the concept of The Fourfold. It is a short essay film inspired by Heidegger's "the fourfold" concept and the Mongolian shamanism. With a poetic mixture of live action footage of landscapes and hand-painted animation -- the tangible and the intangible landscapes, it is an experimental and original attempt to reconcile with worldly objects and nature that have been locked in the nihilistic, extremely analytical and human-centric values.