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A Story of PSU Student in Search of Homeplace – to and from Dubai, Back to Perm

Olga Averkieva, a senior teacher at the Department of Journalism and Mass Communications at Perm State University (PSU) has brought together the stories of nine characters who had left Perm but came back to discover their own way in local arts, business and social life, as a set of documentary shorts – uniting them into the “Back Home” Film Project.  

The fifth short episode shows Lidia Skornyakova, a graduate student of the Faculty of Philology, PSU. Having had entered the University once, studying Journalism and Philology here, she then worked as an exhibition manager and art critic for the Yeltsin Center, Ekaterinburg, Russia, and later moved to Dubai, UAE. Yet, she got back to Perm… Following Lidia, in her own words:

“This is a brief story how I learned to be happy – getting back to where I once belonged. I was born in Perm. After school, I entered the Faculty of Philology at Perm State University. I initially went to study journalism, but got bored, and switched to philology, since I had always been into foreign languages. By 2011, when I was supposed to graduate from the Faculty of Philology, I experienced life crisis. That time, I found escape to be the only way to resolve my problems. I decided that moving to a different city and connecting myself to a different activity would make me different, too – and so shake my previous burdens off. I got carried away by an idea of becoming an art critic. I went to the city of Yekaterinburg, 3,5 hours car drive from Perm, and started looking for a job. My first serious professional occupation was the one at the Yeltsin Center, dedicate to the 1st Russian President and his era. The project had just been launched, encouraging each one of us to do our best. I remember myself getting into the thick of it, quite intensely. “

“The first time I went abroad was in 2012, a trip to Thailand. It all seemed a different planet to me, contrasting to my own environment and family’s vision that travels are for the rich people, as they don’t mind wasting money on nonsense; “What for? At which expense? Why not buy something practical, like kitchen crockery, instead?” After leaving the Yeltsin Center, I flew to Dubai. And, while I was moaning there to a female friend of mine, saying I didn’t want to return neither to Perm, nor Yekaterinburg… since after the Yeltsin Center everything seemed so low-scale and much too common to me… my friend told me: “Go, try find a job here! Elsewise, what’s the use of studying English for so many years?’ So, I did go and did find one. I became a real estate consultant with a 1,5 year contract. Gradually, I started getting tired of Dubai, feeling lack of cultural activity and native language communication in its deeper sense – looking for ideas and things to discuss instead of everyday routine, you know? I was missing performances, plays, theaters. The situation at my work did not get better, either. First, I realized that selling real estate was not my cup of tea. And, secondly, there was a moment when they decided to fire everyone right on New Year’s Eve. I didn’t like the idea of waiting for my turn, and flew back to Perm. ”

“Gosh, finding myself back home in Perm, I rushed headlong to the local stage scene and shows, at last! I did everything I could: the Philharmonic, the Organ Hall, the Cultural and Business Center, the Opera and Ballet Theater, and many other places, almost every day. I started thinking of where to study. And, as I stepped onto the University campus, something clicked – as it always did, and does every time I get in here: my goodness, how cool is the vibe, that’s  the place I’ve been missing! The Master’s Degree in Chinese was well announced, so, I passed the exams, and our Dean Dr. Boris Kondakov called me to say: Welcome to the Faculty, glad to have you back! “

“When I started my Master’s, I had been working, already. An old friend of mine had offered me to take part in a cool project by the Morse Code Creative Agency – a company dealing with museum design. As a result, I started a project that I am finishing now, telling the story of Perm basketball. I see it as my personal ‘Yeltsin Center’. Most importantly, not only did this project give me a new starting point, but a new perspective of my own life, too. Previously, I considered Perm quite a boring place: not obviously true, rather because I never showed interest in it. “

“Having started working at the Yeltsin Center, I discovered that the Perm people had often been the driving force behind changes outside the city. Like, when I lived in Dubai, I discovered a whole diaspora of Permians. This came as a shock, since I always regarded Perm as a small place, some kind of a province, almost a backwater in the middle of Russia. But, no! Many people are aware of Perm State University where I am currently studying at. Perm has its own sociological and linguistic schools – which are not imaginary, like a play of Perm scholars’ egos, but the internationally recognized ones. On the whole, these are the people who share their sparkle with you, some really interesting personalities and outstanding individuals. I can’t explain why these people still make Perm their homeplace. I would, of course, like to see certain opportunities allowing them to not only personally grow, but also feel required, important and in demand to Perm… For it is here, not in St. Petersburg or Moscow, Yekaterinburg or Dubai, that they might have these prospects, belonging to their home. “

Looking back, and as an afterword, Olga Averkieva, author of the project admits: “We did not mean to shoot it for the sake of cinema as art. It is a collective reflection on why people are coming back. I hope that these series may become an impact film – the one affecting the social situation in the Perm territory. Following that line, we can go to schools, colleges and social cinemas, places of free screening, where the “Back Home” series are much welcomed.” The project had already been supported by the Presidential Grants Funding and the Ministry of Culture of Russian Federation.

The “Back Home” Film – see the original episode “To Be the Happy One” 9in Russian) here.

Starring: Lidia Skornyakova, Aleksandr Noskov, Marina Garanovich, Maria Duhnova;
Script and editing: Kapitolina Dolgikh,
Camera crew: Sergey Lepikhin, Angelina Trushnikova;
Sound design: Mikhail Toropov;
Composer: Gannadyi Shyroglazov;

Project by: Olga Averkieva;
Art mentorship: Boris Karadzhev;
Produced by Olga Averkieva and Vladimir Sokolov;

The Novyi Kurs (New Course) Film Studio, Perm, Russia.  

Film by PSU Alumnus Nominated for Oscar

Lyubov Mulmenko, a graduate of the Faculty of Philology, Perm State University (PSU) is listed among the co-authors of the script for the film “Compartment No. 6 “, nominated for an Oscar prize (https://abc.com/shows/oscars), in a Category “Best Movie in a Foreign Language”, representing Finland.

“Compartment No. 6” (Finnish: “Hytti nro 6”) is a 2021 internationally co-produced drama, which shows a story of a Finnish student forming an unlikely friendship with a gruff Russian miner, on a train from Moscow to Murmansk. Based on a novel by Rosa Liksom, the film was co-written and directed by Juho Kuosmanen, and united a crew from Finland, Germany, Estonia and Russia. Lyubov Mulmenko was invited to work on dialogues in Russian, as a script had been originally written in English.

The Academy Awards, popularly known as the Oscars, are awards for artistic and technical merit in the film industry. They are regarded as the most prestigious and significant awards in the entertainment industry worldwide, since 1929. Given annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), the awards are an international recognition of excellence in cinematic achievements, as assessed by the Academy’s voting membership.

Earlier, “Compartment No. 6” got the Palme d’Or Grand Prix at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival.  Founded in 1946 in Cannes, France, it is one of the “Big Three” major European film festivals, and an event for the whole global cinema industry.

In 2021, the Cannes Festival saw another film by Lyubov Mulmenko, also performing as a co-screen writer (lead by Kira Kovalenko and a co-director Anton Yarush) – “Unclenching the Fists”, a family drama growing in a mining town in North Ossetia – a story of a young woman struggles to escape the stifling hold of the family she loves as much as she rejects. “Unclenching Fists” won the Grand Prix of the Uncleaning View author’s film competition at the 74th Cannes Film Festival.

The American Variety  Weekly has included Lyubov Mulmenko in the list of 12 Rising Russian Talents Ready for the Global Stage.

From a young age, Lyubov Mulmenko knew she would be a writer: “I just adored inventing the characters and the worlds they live in”. Gradually, she tried “to learn even more in the process.” At Perm State University, Lyubov studied journalism, and further art journalism at the Pro Arte Institute in St. Petersburg. For several years then, she worked in media, including the Sol Internet Newspaper, the Companion Magazine, the New Companion Newspaper, and wrote as a columnist for the https://Lenta.ru.

In 2014, Mulmenko made her screenwriting debut with a trio of drama films that screened in festivals including Rotterdam, San Sebastian and Karlovy Vary. Recently, Lyubov Mulmenko presented her directorial debut, “The Danube”, in the main competition of the Kinotavr Film Festival. “All I hope is to continue with storytelling,” she says, “but I’d like to write less for others and make more films myself.”

“Compartment No. 6” Poster.

“Compartment No. 6” Frame: – Official Trailer.

Lyubov Mulmenko Picture Source and “The Danube” poster: @lyubov.mulmenko on Facebook

“Compartment No. 6” at the Cannes Festival.

PSU to Support International Film Festival

On 616 September, Perm State University is hosting the “VUZ-Flahertiana” contest for student-based cinema clubs, as a support for the Flahertiana International Documentary Film Festival.

The VUZ-Flahertiana is a friendly way to talk about how we feel, in relation to non-fiction, true-to-life and hard-to-predict stories, which documentaries are. Our own response might be a valuable part of such a screening. According to the Contest Committee, “the goal of the competition is to promote the dialogue culture, tolerance, civic engagement and motivation in youth environment.”

Each University faculty was given the opportunity to choose its own film, referring to the unique collection by the Flahertiana International Film Festival, collected over the years of existence. Flahertiana’s competitive selection means we have access to the cream of the cream contestant productions within the documentary field.

The University develops in a dialogue with the local community, and itself,” says Ksenia Punina, Head of the Public Relations Department, PSU. “Here this dialogue is being given technical and intellectual support, as well as the interdisciplinary and unifying approach, hence the choice of films.

Instead of affiliation with a particular field of science, in 2021, the most popular topic is connected to personal progress and self-search, as well as the role that media in that phenomenon. It can be assumed that this choice was triggered by the threat to the human species in the face of the pandemic and the withdrawal of online education.

“We hope that each show will reveal the individuality character of the faculty, encouraging students and teachers to speak out, contributing to the interactive University climate. We are looking forward to make “VUZ-Flahertiana” a year-round film club in a partnership and mentorship of the Perm Cinema Center,”

notes Elena Malkova, Vice-Rector for Youth Policy, PSU.
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