Accepted Paper:

Voices from the Tundra - The Last of the Yukagirs  


Edwin Trommelen

Paper short abstract:

In the north east of Siberia live the Tundra Yukagirs, a nomadic people of reindeer herders. Only 63 of them still speak the Yukagir language. The Amsterdam linguist Cecilia Odé travels to the Yukagirs in order to capture their language and preserve it for posterity.

Paper long abstract:

Cecilia's journey contains all basic ingredients needed for a fascinating and inspiring documentary: a devoted person who considers the recording of the vanishing language as a life task; the for westerners totally unknown way of life of the Yukagirs in the extreme Siberian cold; touching moments like the dedicated singing old-timers and the children in school learning the language with very limited materials; the romantics of lassos and reindeer herds and nomads tents on the ice.

But the strongest asset of this film is the heart-warming friendship, which developed between Cecilia and the Yukagirs. This friendship allows the filmmakers to enter the Yukagir community in an unforced manner and to gain access to the hearts of the people. Trust and confidence is such a necessary tool for a genuine portrait and for showing how these extraordinary people live their lives in distant Siberia, and it makes it possible to speak frankly with them about their disappearing language, their traditional way of live and their efforts to keep their culture alive.

Duration: 66 minutes

Language: Russian, Dutch, Yukagir

Subtitles: English

Year of Production: 2012

Panel P53
Film Programme