VIKA IS THE VOLCANO
film work in progress
Whilst in preparation for a feature film about Viktoria Petrasheva, we heard of her tragic death in late January 2020.
As a result I have decided to start sharing the process for this film here.
Together with Nathan Gibson, Tatiana Degai, Rosie Woods & Philipp Krikunov we continue to plan a film about Vika.
You can read a memorial article that Tatiana & I co-wrote in Open Democracy here:
i took this photo of viktoria petrasheva at the end of our first meeting on my friend chris's lomo. when i got the photo developed i was annoyed that i'd under exposed and it had come out badly. now that i look at it i see that in a sense it caught her fiery aura, that there was something volcanic deep in her, even if she looks uncharacteristically passive in this picture because she was humouring me by posing. this past year, together with vika, tatiana degai, nathan gibson, rosie woods & philipp krukunov we have been planning a film about her life, interweaving it with an epic itelmen myth that culminates in a woman becoming a volcano.
on our zoom with her in december she was on brilliant form, singing, telling a myth about a crying volcanic rock & trying to set me up with her other granddaughter.
she was entheusiastic about the film project and was already directing it, telling us who to cast. at the end of the meeting she said "there is an expression in french, 'to meet is to be re-born'". this couldn't resonate more strongly. jung says something about the meeting between two people being a chemical reaction that leaves both permanently changed. but some meetings more so than others, some change the course of you life. i'm sure meeting me wasn't that big a deal for vika, although she was kind enough to say i was now part of her team, but form me meeting her had a profound, indelible effect.
i don't think i'm alone in this.
i don't know what the future for this film project is, but i do know that vika's voice has never been more urgent, speaking out for the inalienable right of indigenous people to love and thrive where they have for tens of thousands of years, the importance of indigenous knowledge for the prevention of biodiversity loss & the complex
yet profound need for myths that connect us to land, place, ourselves. when i asked her how it felt to be connected to stories that her ancestors may have told ten thousand years ago? she replied, 'this is the reason to be alive'.
travel well vika, you will be missed
i am heartbroken
to hear of viktoria petrasheva's
death, or rather moving into the other world.
i had the great privilege to meet her twice in the autumn of 2018. she welcomed us into her beautiful home, gave us tea, fish and choclate & shared stories from her life, the world and itelmen culture. the itelmen are the first people of kamchatka & vika dedicated herself as an academic, mythteller & artist to her people's culture and its revitalisation. she shared with us a myth about the spirits that live inside volcanoes, and how they eat whales cooked in the lava, and also many other tales and anecdotes, like how she had to be flown off kamchatka when her appendix burst in a plane full of frozen fish, as this was the only available flight that was leaving & how she had many desks in her house in case an idea came to her and she could write it down before it went away.
she was such a warm, funny & brilliant spirit.
i feel sure her voice will continue to echo for a long time to come, not least in her granddaughter dr. tatiana degai, who continues her work of itelmen cultural revitalisation. my thoughts are with vika's family.