Celestial Wives of the Meadow Mari

Alexey Fedorchenko
Nebesnye zheny lugovykh mari
Russia 2012 / 106’

This country fascinates. As Scottish 'anti-tourist' Daniel Kalder writes in Lost Cosmonaut: after much reading and analysis, I decided to travel to the Republic of Mari El which borders Tatarstan in the south. My decision was influenced by the fact that the Mari, the local inhabitants, are the last authentic pagans in Europe […] I felt that it must be a unique place: victims sacrificed in the shadow of nuclear reactors, the naked bodies of women swollen with fertility, ritual acts of deflowering. Even if such images are missing from this film by the Russian ‘anti-documentalist’, what remains is more than appealing. The Mari Decameron consists of 26 stories of various lengths featuring female protagonists whose names begin with the letter ‘O’. What viewers will see are the dead rising from the grave, the punishment of sacred trees, a forest spirit demanding sex and vaginas speaking in their own voices! Erotica intertwines artfully with folklore, rituals and beliefs, permeating post-Soviet housing and villages from another era. The director builds another cinematic monument to the dying minorities of the Russian Federation, which includes traces of Pasolini or Parajanov – not a statue made of bronze, but constructed with astonishment, sensitivity and humour.

Jan Topolski


Kinotavr Russian National FF – Best Script, Best Cinematography

Alexey Fedorchenko

Born in 1966 in Sol-Ileck in the Ural Mountains, where he studied engineering. In search of work, he ended up in Sverdlovsk, eventually becoming a local film studio producer. There the director made his award-winning feature film debut, First on the Moon (12th NH), a mockumentary about the Russian conquest of space in the 1930s. Since making Silent Souls, a tale about the Finnic tribe of Merya, Fedorchenko splits his artistic attention between ethnic minorities and a passion for old-school science fiction.

Selected filmography

2002 David (doc.)

2005 Pierwsi na Księżycu / Pervye na Lune / First on the Moon

2007 Miłość i parowóz / Zheleznaya doroga / The Railway

2010 Milczące dusze / Ovsyanki / Silent Souls

2012 Czwarty wymiar / The Fourth Dimension (co-dir.)

2012 Niebiańskie żony Łąkowych Maryjczyków / Nebesnye Zhony Lugovykh Mari / Celestial Wives of the Meadow Mari

Prepared by: Jan Topolski

Cast & Crew

director Alexey Fedorchenko
screenplay Denis Osokin
cinematography Shandor Berkeshi
editing Roman Vazhenin
music Andrey Karasev
cast Yuliya Aug, Yana Esipovich, Yana Troyanova, Vasiliy Domrachev, Darya Ekamasova
producer Dmitriy Vorobyev, Alexey Fedorchenko, Mikhail Shchukin, Leonid Lebedev
production The 29th February Film Company, Kenpo-Kaliy, Red Arrow Film
sales Antipode Sales
language Russian, Mari