Film about the love of the homeland and its people
Azor is the first film in a Finno-Ugric language spoken in Russia which was shown in cinemas.
The film was screened in Erzya and Russian, as well as with subtitles in Finnish and Estonian.
Musician Viktor Chichaykin and teacher Aleksandr Uchevatkin are a living proof that enthusiasts can overcome all the challenges, budget restrictions, and lack of professional expertise. In fact, back to autumn 2015, very few people had believed in their project; however, in August 2018 the Russian Ministry of Culture issued a screening certificate to Azor, the first fiction feature film in the history of Mordovia.
The film tells of the Mongol invasion of the Erzya lands in the XIII century. The main protagonist Azor goes through captivity and loss of his family and native village. However, his love of the homeland and its people gives him forces to fight the enemy together with the warriors led by prince Purgaz. The film immerses the audience in the history, culture and language of the Erzya people. The project aims at promoting the Erzya language and uniting the Erzya-speaking community.
When the process is as important as the result
The project raised 120 000 rubles through crowdfunding.
The Mongolian-speaking characters were voiced by the Mongols from the Inner Mongolia, China.
The project authors took on the main tasks. Aleksandr Uchevatkin wrote a screenplay. Viktor Chichaykin directed filming and, under an artistic name of Bakich Vidyai, composed an original music score. He also charged himself with voicing, editing, as well as special effects and sounds. Besides, the limited budget did not allow inviting film production professionals, so the two Erzya filmmaking pioneers had to become cameramen, casting managers, costume and prop designers, fund-raisers, PR-specialists, and producers. And, yet, the main character in Azor was performed by a professional actor of the Mordovian National Drama Theatre Pavel Mikhailov.
We want films in indigenous languages to be a norm, not a precedent. For every ethnic community, the native language is a shrine. The attitude towards the languages and cultures of the neighbouring peoples is an indicator of the interethnic peace and amity.
The premiere took place in Saransk, the capital of Mordovia, on 10 October 2018 and was followed with screenings in six cities in Finland, two cities in Estonia, and a city in the Komi-Permyak District, Russia. In the end of 2018, Azor was on in commercial cinemas across Mordovia, Russia. The film is currently shown in traditiona territories of the Erzya people.
The Azor project received a donation from the Erzya people living in Russia, Kazakhstan, and Germany. Although met with scepticism at the start, the filmmaking process attracted many interested people. Aleksandr Uchevatkin and Viktor Chichaykin established a studio named Paro Production, from paro meaning ‘good’ in Erzya. Today they are ready to support other similar projects in the Russian, Moksha, Tatar and other languages.