Synopsis: The filmmaker joins two Native American girls as they encounter indigenous cultures throughout Siberia. Their journey results in a deeper understanding and appreciation of their own cultures.
“Crossing the Bridge: Discovering Mutual Language in Siberia” is a reflection on the extreme importance of cultural identity and preservation. The cultures presented range from the healthy and abundant, to the lost and almost forgotten.
Ana and Kristine are members of a Native American initiative sent to Russia to connect with several indigenous people. They meet Tatars, Bashkirs, and Mansi – within the Sverdlovsk Oblast (Свердловская область). Then they travel to Gorno-Altaysk (Горно-Алтайск) and Chemal (Чемал) in the Altai Republic (Республика Алтай) to meet Altians. The girls experience a vast array of cultural experiences – including culinary, linguistic, religious, and musical – and learn that these people are actually not too different from themselves. Most importantly their world perspective is broadened and enlightened.
All artists know that there are projects that take a long time to complete. For me, this is one of those projects. I have been working on this documentary off and on for about a decade. The primary shooting took place in 2009. Initially the footage was going to be used for promoting the work of the initiative that these students were members of. That never happened and the footage ended back in my complete control – with no intended purpose.
Over the next few years I would come back to the beautiful footage of Siberia and the peoples we met. I knew there was something more within these frames. I continued to develop as a filmmaker and a professor. In 2012 I decided to shape the footage into a film about culture – primarily how culture informs the ways we see ourselves within our communities and in relation to the world. I shot the interviews with Ana and Kristine shortly after. The foundations of “Crossing the Bridge” were all there – but it still took several more years for the film to take complete shape.
Initially I was not a character, but I continued to struggle with the primary spine of the structure of the film. Adding myself as a character and the narration were the final additions to the film.
Marek Dojs describes himself as a British Pole who was raised in the United States in a very English community. He is an award winning filmmaker and associate professor of Communication at the University of Mary in Bismarck, North Dakota.
He is an artist who works in multiple media but finds most comfort in nonfiction film – wanting to make films that have purpose and deeper meaning.
He is also interested in work in the field of memory studies, focusing on how we remember tragic events and how they shape personal identities through generations.
Marek earned his M.F.A. from the University of North Texas in Denton, and a B.A. in History and Communication from the University of St. Thomas in Houston.
A life long supporter of Chelsea Football Club, he is married to his wife Madeline and they have 9 children.