Isa, Poeg Ja Puha Toorum (1998)

Run Time - 88 min.  |   Countries - Estonia  |  
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This ethnographic documentary, filmed by Mark Soosar over a two-year period, contrasts the vanishing traditions of the Khanty peoples of Western Siberia, with the intrusion of oil and gas companies impacting on rural life. Elderly medicine man Sosho, aka Weasel Man, continues to eke out a living in the forest, hunting bears and herding reindeer. These creatures possess the powerful Torum spirit and thus are deserving of his worship. Sosho feels a betrayal from his son Petja, who lives "in town" and who mostly avoids his parents. Making deals with the oil companies involved in buying up ancestral lands, Petja works on behalf of the locals, but he is not unaware of the oil drilling's ecological aftermath. As the generation gap widens, Petja's parents beg the gods to make Petja start "living right." The loss of natural resources in these land-grabs is spelled out in segment titles, such as "The Dark Forces" and "The Kingdom of Oil and Gas." The film's conclusion finds only one-sixth of the Kantys remaining in the forest. Shown at the 1998 San Francisco Film Festival.