By Christina Milligan
The multi-award winning feature film The Bonfire has been screened to a small but appreciative audience at Auckland University of Technology following its successful screenings at the 2017 Māoriland Film Festival in Otaki.
The film tells a heart-wrenching story of friendship between an old man and a young boy after both of them have lost connection with their families.
Made in 15 days with an amateur cast and mostly amateur crew, The Bonfire is a remarkable achievement for first-time director Dimitrii Davidov, who is a school headmaster from the Amga district where the film was shot.
Davidov and his cast and crew are from the Yakut people who live in a remote region of Eastern Siberia, 725 km south of the Arctic circle. It is an area which suffers from high unemployment, and the film does not flinch from showing the pain of poverty and alcoholism that lack of work can cause in remote villages.
The Bonfire is the first feature to be made by the Yakut people in the Yakut language and it has been warmly received and honoured at a number of film festivals around the world, including being awarded Best Dramatic Feature at the 17th ImagiNATIVE Film and Media Arts Festival in Toronto in 2016.
Davidov and his producer Anzelika Krastina were hosted at AUT by Te Ara Poutama and the Television and Screen Production curriculum of the School of Communication Studies.
Christina Milligan is a film director and producer and lecturer at Auckland University of Technology.