Final Days in Russia for directors TJ Martin and Dan Lindsay
TJ’s last day in Yekaterinburg began with an interview with Sasha, an editor with the art news blog Kultur-Multur. After the interview, we were taken a nearby school so TJ could give his final presentation about observational filmmaking with in Russia. While walking through the space of the Specialized English School #13, TJ commented that he appreciated that the school included kids from pre-school age children all the way up to high school age teenagers and thought that perhaps that could have a positive impact on both the younger and older students. Many of the 11th grade students in the presentation had attended the screening of Undefeated the night before at the Dom Kino theater and were eager to ask TJ questions.
TJ and I met up with Dima, our new friend and trusted interpreter, and we all headed across town for a radio interview at the Komsomolskaya Pravda-Ural Radio station. The show featuring TJ was a 45-minute live call-in program and the host was excited to discuss TJ’s experience at the Oscars and in Hollywood in general. When mentioning actors who TJ would love to work with in the future, the host exclaimed, “Now I really respect you! I thought you’d definitely say Angelina Jolie.” After the radio interview, Dima arranged for photo shoot with a local youth-oriented arts and culture magazine that he runs. The shoot referenced the documentary Last Cup: Road to the World Series of Beer Pong, the film on which Dan and TJ first worked together. Despite getting caught in the rain, everyone had fun time bringing a distinctly American activity to the streets of Yekaterinburg.
With all the ‘work’ completed for the day, Dima took us to the opening reception of Yekaterinburg’s 2nd Ural Industrial Biennale of Contemporary Art. Being a major civic event, we were privy to the art scene of Yekaterinburg and beyond. The art event took place in factory spaces in and around the city to, according to the event’s website, “take on the problems of material and symbolic production, industrial and artistic labor, the industrial and the post-industrial in the context of the city of Ekaterinburg and the Ural region. Once the center of the Soviet industrialization drive and a world-renown destination for Constructivist architecture, now the region is defined by its “intermediate” economy. It is neither post-industrial Europe, nor industrial Asia, but rather, a hybrid that links the two, thereby giving a global significance to the local socioeconomic situation.”
The evening, and the trip to Yekaterinburg, ended with a delicious dinner with Dima and Lada at a nearby Georgian restaurant. The trip to the Ural region proved to be far more dynamic and meaningful than either of us had expected.
The next day we flew back to Moscow and were reunited Dan. We heard about his adventures his Kazan (more updates on that soon) and enjoyed a remarkably sunny and warm afternoon in Moscow. Our final night in Russia coincided with a event at the home of the U.S. Ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul. We rode the famed Moscow metro to the historic Spaso House for the reception honoring NBA’s Basketball Without Border: Europe program that was held for the first time in Russia this summer. We felt honored to be included in the event and TJ and Dan even had a chance to chat with the ambassador and the ambassador’s wife over the course of the evening.
The next morning we were off to the airport again, this time to leave the country. What a fantastic experience in Russia!