Vladimir_2 EROFEYEV
Владимир_2 ЕРОФЕЕВ
Vladimir_2 EROFEEV
USSR / Germany, 1929, 1863m 
Black and white, silent, documentary
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 Pamir. Roof of the world


Other titles : PAMIR. KRISHA MIRA
Directed by : Vladimir_2 EROFEYEV (Владимир_2 ЕРОФЕЕВ), Vladimir SHNEYDEROV (Владимир ШНЕЙДЕРОВ)
Cinematography : Vladimir SHNEYDEROV (Владимир ШНЕЙДЕРОВ)
Other persons :
Cinematography : Elias TOLTSCHAN
Music : Fritz WENNEIS
Film Editing : Eugen BOYAR
Companies : Prometheus-Film-Verleih, Vertriebs-GmbH
format : 35 mm
Site : IMDb

Plot synopsis
Film-maker Vladimir Yerofeyev (1898-1940) was a pioneer of expedition cinema in the Soviet Union, advocating for increased attention and investment in edifying non-fiction films made to win the interest of broad audiences. Pamir. Roof of the World, 1927, is his second feature film, and the first resulting from an expedition (his debut that same year, Za poliarnym krugom [Beyond the Arctic Circle] was a co-edited compilation film). In summer 1927, a trek to the mountainous Pamir region, known as the “Roof of the World”, in present-day Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, was organized by the Sovkino studio in co-operation with the Geological Committee. Yerofeyev worked with prominent geologist Dmitrii Nalivkin and ethnographer Mikhail Andreyev; both scholars had extensively researched the area and contributed to the planning for the crew’s journey. The film opens with an animated map presenting the itinerary. Starting off in Moscow, the symbolic center of the new empire, it leads through Samara and Orenburg to Tashkent, Osh, and further on to the Pamir Mountains of Central Asia. Following a tracking shot from the moving train, the crew is shown arriving in Osh, in present-day Kyrgyzstan, the expedition’s base, where where the camera records fragments of town life: a picturesque bazaar, veiled women in the streets, and the expedition’s crew, horses, and camels, along with their heavy loads. After leaving Osh, the crew crosses the Taldyk Pass, and makes its first stop in the Alay Valley. Subsequent segments feature different elements of the trek, including crossing mountain rivers, traversing snowy passes, and descending into valleys in bloom, emphasizing the expedition’s progress. In the Alay Valley the camera records the practices of the Kyrgyz nomads – constructing a tent, keeping goats, sheep, and horses, making dairy products, and working a traditional one-shuttle weaver’s loom. The community is presented as traditional and self-sufficient. The film avoids picturing the Kyrgyz nomads as “dependent” or “primitive”, but shows them as masters of their space and a community connected to the outside world.
Further on towards the border with India, the crew and the audience observe spectacular mountain panoramas. Leaving the plateau, the group enters a Tajik village at the foot of the Pamirs. Compressing different elements of community life into a single episode, the film introduces summer herding practices, when the women take the cattle up to summer pastures while the men stay behind to look after the household. Yerofeyev also zooms in on religious customs: the Tajiks of Western Pamir belong to the Ismailian sect and worship a “living god”, the Aga Khan, whom we see in a photo wearing a fancy European-style suit. The film’s matter-of-fact attitude to presenting religious beliefs stands in contrast to the mainstream Soviet pattern of straightforward derogatory representations of religion. The scenes of religious practices are tendentiously followed by images of unconscious opium-smokers. The narrative contrasts the “prejudices” with the “new shoots” of the time – pioneers marching with a drum, women without veils, a new school where a teacher holds a lesson, and indeed a low-angle shot of a bust of Lenin. Overcoming the snowy paths by driving their horses to the tune of a local guide’s flute, the crew finally enters Dushanbe, the capital of Soviet Tajikistan, after having covered 2,000 kilometres.
The observations of city life include men in robes, donkeys on the streets, and local craftsmen in the bazaar. The crew boards the plane to return to Moscow, where the record of their journey across a rich region is pieced together. The final result demonstrates the interaction of various cultures not yet fully streamlined to the requirements of the uniformed all-Soviet world. Breaking the established convention of the invisibility of the traveller, Yerofeyev himself makes a cameo appearance towards the end of the film, energetically shaking hands with a local merchant. For all its brevity, the appearance of the director encapsulates the ambiguity of the relationship between the film-maker and his subjects.
Oksana Sarkisova

Selected in the following festivals :
- Festival of Central and Eastern Film , Wiesbaden (Germany), 2021
- Pordenone Silent Film Festival, Pordenone (Italy), 2017