Irina Vlasova, a student of the St. Petersburg Institute of Cinema and Television, participant of "Eco Art Academy", which takes place in Apatity, Murmansk region, these days, made a film "Black record" of a large oil spill of 1994 in Usinsk, Komi Republic. It was her course work in high school, she passed in January, and a few days ago posted it on the Internet. The correspondent of "7x7" witnessed the filming, which took place last summer as part of Greenpeace expedition "Oil Patrol" in Usinsk, since he was there in August. And recently spoke with the director of a 13-minute documentary film to learn about the work and what received responses.
According to various sources, the total amount of oil spilled in 1994 of the many holes of the old pipeline estimated as 100 to 120 thousand tons. According to the official version, the about 60 thousand tons of oil got into environment. All the world news agencies reported about the Usinsk tragedy, and only local oilmen pretended that nothing had happened. Consequences of the accident were eliminated many years. Locals claim that they still feel the consequences of the accident.
Photo: Denis Sinyakov, Greenpeace Russia
— Why did you decide to make a film about the accident of 1994 in the Komi Republic, the largest pipeline accident on land?
— In summer, I really wanted to shoot coursework. What was needed was some good topic. I was advised: once you are engaged in ecology — create anything on this subject. And then I was invited to the camp "Oil Patrol" in Usinsk. Then googled, found the information that there was an accident in 1994. It was very interesting. I found only pathetic film about "Lukoil" that it cleaned and saved everything. Decided to make a movie about it, talk to the locals to let people know more.
— Tell me how you worked on the film. How did you search for an invoice, characters, what did you think on the internal structure of the film?
— I had never been in the Komi Republic, Usinsk before, never seen a real oil. I imagined all this in the abstract, that everything was going to be terribly dirty. I asked the guys who were also going to shoot videos there if I could ride with them, to communicate with the locals. They answered that I definitely could if there would be time between cleaning oil. I wrote a scenario in train: I had to talk to people and make a movie of these stories.
When I came to Usinsk, it was much worse than I thought, with oil spills and with the shooting. We were in the village of Parma, it is not as old as Colva or Ust-Usa, and therefore the most quaint locals lived there. Plus we always had some kind of volunteer work, and I was very upset that nothing was going to work. Women of the chorus "Pelys" and social activists of the Save the Pechora Committee came to the opening of the camp. And I realized that it was necessary to film them. They told us a lot of things, we realized that the theme was deep. Then there was an opportunity to walk in Usinsk, to shoot a little.
We had problems because the people were tired of this story. They were often questioned by journalists, and, apparently, it was not very pleasant to think about it too often.
I also was lucky because I was with the Brazilian operator Tulio [volunteer of "Oil patrol"], who had quadrocopter. He made shooting from quadrocopter, I was thrilled because of a wide angle lens, it created a feeling as if the whole ground was covered with oil. Plus another operator of "Greenpeace" Vlad Zalevsky was filming material for his reels. Then he gave me all of these materials, we had agreed on in advance. At home I started to select the material and think about the structure of the film.
— By the way, one of the most interesting moments in the film, when under the Komi song about a great northern nature, there was a large-scale oil spills video in the north of the region…
— This is a song about a beautiful nature and strangers who came and started to destroy everything., By the way, I didn’t have recordings of this song, I heard about it in the camp, but didn’t even know its title. I mean, I knew only an approximate translation and I was very touched by the meaning of the song. Even when I came to St. Petersburg, searched the Internet, found a group of Komi community "VKontakte". I wrote people there so they could help to find it. I wrote what was this song about, and they sent it. Even with the translation. I am very grateful to these people. Then decided that it would be an ending, because it was opened, and it was unclear what would happen next in the republic.
— You have mentioned that there were another volunteer of "Oil patrol" Irina Baturina, who also came to Usinsk, took part in the preparation of the film. How did you find each other?
— She is a future sound engineer and worked on sound. We met on the train, it turned out that we were in the same compartment. There we got acquainted. "My name is Ira," "I am Ira too." "I am a sound engineer", "And I'm a director" [laughs]. I thought that I found a team. Ira helped, asked questions, I worked as an operator and as a director. Then there were difficulties during installation of the sound. She was in Moscow, I was in St. Petersburg. We called each other on Skype, I explained what I needed. It was difficult, but we managed.
— How do you evaluate the film itself? And what did they tell you at the institute?
— I have done the work the whole October, November, and in December we have already corrected some detail. When I brought it to the presentation, I couldn’t watch it. Just sat and stared at the floor. Head of the department took the exam, our master and another teacher, which we had never seen. And during captions, I turned my head, and the head of the department said: "Ira, let me kiss you". And I understood that I hit home. Then he began to say that it was a festival work. Evaluated adequately. I managed to rehabilitate after the last unsuccessful session.
— How do you yourself see the future of this work?
— I initially didn’t see this work only as a course, for which I would get «excellent» and would be happy. No. Initially, I had the task of making a qualitative film, to tell about the problem to a lot of people. We will submit work on various environmental festivals. I already have the translation into English. In the near future we will do the subtitles and promote the film. Maybe because of my age and naivete I believe that the situation can be changed somehow there. And some positive reaction may appear when a lot of people watch it. So that people were not just thinking about how bad everything was there, but what they could do.
— Remember your first impression when you come to the village of Parma and began to clean up the oil? Your first thoughts: what is this and how should you treat this?
—To put it mildly, I felt lousy. It stank and caused very bad headache. And I was terrified by the fact that yellow flowers grew on this oil... It was such a terrible contrast, and I didn’t understand how it lives together. And I was shocked by the ground of the orange color, as on Mars — from process water, which burnt the ground. And I even used it then. A shot of the Mars’ ground and the ground of the Komi Republic. I couldn’t understand how people lived there. And the locals said, "Well, yes, it was, but now we catch fish, eat it if it doesn’t smell of oil, but it’s very sad".
— Did you form attitude to companies that produce oil? How do you call them?
— I don’t pick up any certain word for them. But I will not say that we should stop producing oil. Just everything should be treated like human beings, not so that you exploit, and you don’t care what's going on around you. And you want to be rich and don’t think that people live here and nature dies. It is an inhuman treatment. I don’t know how to say it clearly. Of course, I was very impressed and still don’t understand what is going on in the mind of these people that they allow it, and then write in their newspapers that they are saving the environment.
— Why do you need all this? Exposure in history, environmental volunteering?
— I study environment and, perhaps, I am among those "strange" people who believe that they can make a difference in this world. This is kind of theory of small deeds. I can, and I have my own vision. I saw this oil lake, I put it away and helped nature. There is corporate social responsibility in companies. I think everyone should have such an internal program — to help nature where it is possible. We still live on the same planet. We should expend energy in it.
Maxim Polyakov, Yaroslava Parkhachyova, «7x7»