May 29, 2012

The Arctic Cross

Dmitry Trakovsky, the acclaimed directory of the documentary film "Meeting Andrei Tarkovsky," is now working on a film on the Russian Orthodox Communities of Native Alaskans. He's raising funds for the project, "Acrtic Cross," here.

Given my previous complaints about the failure of introductions to American Religious history to adequately formulate a narrative of the Eastern Orthodox in America, or articulate the way they fit into the larger story of religion in America, I think this project is really worthy of support.

This looks to be a fascinating project that will get at the spirit of Eastern Orthodoxy, as well as the unique character of one American form of the faith. It will be a great resource for those interested in American Orthodoxy, specifically, and those teaching and exploring American religion more generally.

Along with efforts to made original Russian-Alaskan mission records available and efforts by churches to tell and record their own stories, this could herald a very good time in the study of Eastern Orthodoxy in America.

From  Trakovsky's description of his aesthetic:
Arctic Cross will have no voice-over, few titles and, ideally, no sit-down interviews.  Instead, long-takes will observe the characters as they go about their work, speak to one another, and interact in their environment.  One portrait will flow into the next.  My goal as a filmmaker will be to find the cinematic means capable of expressing the complexity, depth, and mystery of the lives portrayed.  There are many ways to do this if I remain attuned to the environment.  In winter, the aesthetic is dominated by long, starry nights, stunning aurora borealis, and the ubiquity of whiteness and snow.  In summer, I will observe boundless panoramic grasslands, muddy rivers and, in the villages, the tattered mobile housing units characteristic of the region.  My stylistic approach places paramount value on the expressive possibilities of a rhythmic, rather than concept-driven, cinematic language.  However, this film will also tell a thematically intertwined and compelling story accessible to all viewers.