Review: ‘Pudana — Last of the Line’

Those chroniclers of northern climes, Anastasia Lapsui and Markku Lehmuskallio, address the forced assimilation of Siberia's indigenous Nenets people in their docufiction "Pudana -- Last of the Line."

Those chroniclers of northern climes, Anastasia Lapsui and Markku Lehmuskallio, address the forced assimilation of Siberia’s indigenous Nenets people in their docufiction “Pudana — Last of the Line.” Based in part on Lapsui’s own experiences, the pic illustrates a young girl witnessing the Soviet destruction of her way of life, but a lack of dramatic force, along with wooden thesping from nonpros, results in a weak emotional payoff. Fascinating staged shaman ceremonies and the relative obscurity of Nenets culture should guarantee bookings by ethnographic fests.

The Yamal Peninsula in northwestern Siberia is home to the Nenets, the subject of previous films by the directors (“Seven Songs From the Tundra,” et al.). As the last of the Vera clan, young Neko (Aleksandra Okotetto) is taught by her grandmother (helmer Lapsui) to uphold tradition, but when the Soviets force her into boarding school, she founders in the unsupportive, Russian-speaking environment. Neko as an adult (Nadezhda Pyrenko) addresses the camera to talk about her experiences, as do other characters in an ill-advised bid to offer multiple points of view. Intriguing glimpses into traditional customs are crisply lensed.

Pudana -- Last of the Line

Finland

Production

A Pirkanmaa Film Center release of an Illume, YLE production. (International sales: Illume, Helsinki.) Produced by Pertti Veijalainen, Jouko Aaltonen. Co-producer, Erkki Astala. Directed, written by Anastasia Lapsui, Markku Lehmuskallio.

Crew

Camera (color), Johannes Lehmuskallio; editor, Juho Gartz. Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (Generation Kplus), Feb. 19, 2010. Original title: Sukunsa viimeinen. Tundra Nenets, Russian dialogue. Running time: 84 MIN.

With

Aleksandra Okotetto, Nadezhda Pyrenko, Anastasia Lapsui, Jevgeni Hudi, Roza Laptander, Radion Anaguritshi, Ljudmila Zannikova.

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