Cinema Verde Went to Siberia…

Posted by Trish Riley, February 7, 2018

Cinema Verde Siberia

June 5th, 2017

I finally arrived Khanty–Mansiysk, 2 days and 6 airports later… I left home at dawn, and arrived at dawn, though it was only about 2 a.m. here. This must be the land of the midnight sun. Our host Julia calls it “The White Night.” It is beautiful here and about 55 degrees F, so I might not need my suitcase full of sweaters for Siberia – It was showing 36 degrees when I packed.

            Although my travels were long, they were not unpleasant. I was excited all the way here, though a bit weary by the time I got to Moscow, and I still had 10 hours before the last leg of the journey which took off from another airport about two hours away. I thought some colleagues would meet me there to explore the city, but that didn’t work out, so from JFK I contacted a tour company in Moscow to show me Red Square and carry me to the next airport. But my phone, wifi… nothing worked and I couldn’t connect with the driver, until a passerby kindly asked if he could help, put through the call and the driver and I found each other by waving our hands in the car lot.  Most Moscovians don’t speak English but I found a few and got by… Customs was no problem, the Russian Officers are very grim-faced through the process. When we got to Red Square I was excited to see the beautiful St. Basil’s Cathedral, that iconic Russian palace with colorful towers that had always enchanted me as a child. Of course my camera switched to black and white when I snapped a few photos… Brilliant! Luckily I managed to get one good one…  didn’t notice the color deficit till much later! The sun was setting as we boarded the last plane – at 10:30 pm – and was rising again when we arrived four hours later. I’ve been traveling two days and two nights. Gnight!

-Trish Riley

July 19, 2017

Well, it turns out I’m not a blogger. Sorry I didn’t keep up with details throughout my trip, but if you’re interested in learning more, here’s how it went. Let’s just start with It was amazing! I am so grateful that I was able to accept the invitation to attend the XXI International TV and Film EcoFilm Festival, “Save and Preserve,” in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia: Siberia!

I’d received an invitation to attend the festival last year, but couldn’t afford to go, so had to decline. I regretted the decision all year, then received a new invitation this spring “to be an honored guest at the festival.” I couldn’t say no again. So that’s how I got here…

Notes from my little book:

The plane to Khanty-Mansiysk was small, and I didn’t get around to meeting any passengers bound for the festival, though I knew some were on board.The dawn was just breaking as we landed – it was about 3 a.m. in Siberia. I disembarked the plane feeling weary, disheveled and in need of a shower after two days of traveling. We were greeted by a full entourage of festival organizers, friends and press, with balloons and colorful rainbow umbrellas setting the stage for the Russian TV cameras pointed right at us as we walked into the airport lobby. I tried to duck out of their line of sight but seemed to be front and center, staring into the camera. The festival was sponsored by the local television station, a government affiliate. I just hope I’m not in the “Welcome to Khanty-Mansiysk” show… ;/ Here’s the site:

Day One, June 5, 2017: The governor of Khanty-Mansiysk,

Natalia Komarova

The Governor of the Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous Okrug – Ugra

Natalia Komarova, welcomed festival goers along with several other officials. She and a few others were followed by an interpreter for English speakers in the audience. “This is the 21st year of ‘Save and Preserve,’ the Year of Ecology, and at 21, it is the year of taking responsibility to take action. I invite people willing to share the full load of responsibility for protecting the environment.”

TV Director from the nearby town of Tyumen said, “This is the most important ecological event in our region. 900 films from 80 countries. President Putin has declared 2017 the year of Ecology. We have a lot to do but we are capable of solving any problem by working together, such as at this festival.”

**Gentleman in purple tie made a presentation today about difficulties of journalists. I missed it, unfortunately, because my clock was not set right. :( Later he said no need to translate – it was only about problems specific to Russian journalists. I pressed, noting that US journalists are facing many problems now, too, but he was not forthcoming.

In my presentation I invited film journalists to submit their work to Cinema Verde. I was later approached by filmmakers from Russia, Bulgaria and Spain. None were able to join us for Cinema Verde 2018. It’s expensive, and laden with paperwork.

We must make it possible for them to attend and help pay for them to come. We are seeking sponsors for their travel.

June 5, 2017

Evening featured film was presented by local Green Peace on mining of uranium in Ural – contaminating homes animals and people in its area. It’s a microcosm of the world – ground zero at the mining site, but contamination from uranium kills beyond the mining area.

No translators on hand, but, really, it’s not necessary. The problem is clear. And part of the problem is that journalists have a hard time helping to publicize the problem.

Later Jenna came and told me a bit more about the film: Chelyabinsk village in the Oblast region. Government replaced village within 1 kilometre, not enough. USSR atom bomb (tests) explosion made the river radioactive, but nearby villages were not informed, now people have health issues.

Boris P. is director of the Siberian National Park System. He wants to come to Cinema Verde and ride his motorcycle across the US. okay!

June 5, 2017, 2:44 a.m. (June 6) Sun is rising! I am amazed and heartened by this festival in Siberia. So many people here are working to educate the world about the value of nature.

Somehow we’ve evolved to think of nature as just an economic resource, but the truth is – we can’t live without these trees, plants, rivers and springs that bring life to… our lives. We need to respect this and stop killing all life that is part of us.

That’s the theme of many of the films and talks here. Tonight a film focused on contamination of a town in Ural where they are mining uranium. People are sick and dying from the poisons raised in the quest for bomb materials. Can we just stop raping the earth to kill each other? People are the same everywhere – we all want to live and love peacefully. But we are constantly in search of ways to win and kill. We need to get past this.

Next day: We went tourist shopping:

Pavlovoposadskiy factory – where the pretty white and blue wool shawl I bought came from. I also bought a nice sweater for Bud, a hand-made felt stole for Rachel and some little brass mammoths for each of us.

Zoltan Torok is an accomplished filmmaker from Sweden – his works on National Geographic on Everglades, National Parks, etc. A true die-hard in terms of health and the environment. He complains about plastic, recycles everything very proudly, eats only animals which have had a happy life (“they have toys, run free,”) says he used to kill his own to… make sure they didn’t suffer?

See my photos at

More about XXI Save and Preserve at:

And some videos from the TV station:

Airport arrival (whew – I’m not in it!): 05/06/2017/ Дневник фестиваля № 1 (Diary of a Festival, Day 1)

June 8, 2017

Met Mike (Mikhail) @ breakfast. He Mikhail runs a film fest in Uralia, a region of Russia near Finland. Ate breakfast with him then walked 3 Kilometres (1.86 miles) to the festival center. Wonderful discussion. He is a professor of philology and runs an environmental film festival. He says he makes little money; that most of Russia is not wealthy like Khanty-Mansiysk is (from oil). I read on a news site in KM that the town’s unemployment is about half the rate of the rest of the country. The unemployment rate in the Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous District is lower than the Russian average by half

—–>July 24, 2017: After writing all of these notes down last eve, I scanned around and watched a few shows on Russia… Of course, you can’t trust anything you find on the internet these days – the reason 20- and 30-year journalists fell out of work ten years ago is because suddenly PR flaks and marketers could get their stuff on the web for free, and even legitimate publications with falling budgets and staff were quick to run free stories that helped build content and advertising opportunities. This has become the way of the internet, and the BS stories are often packaged to look like news. These clips offer a variety of information from both sides of the idea:

Is Russia bad? How bad is Putin? And especially, in my mind: Could it, in fact, be a reasonable idea to try to befriend this nation and stop fighting it as presidential treason?

Here are a few samples:


  • Is Putin a good guy or a bad guy? Scanning these pix he looks kind of okay… but be sure to read the comments for perspective. Then watch the next one.


28 WTF Pictures From Vladimir Putin’s Crazy Life

He’s a judo master, deep sea diver, and tamer of wild beasts — you can’t make this shit up.

Posted on July 19, 2017, at 5:15 p.m. Gabriel H. Sanchez


Natasha Lance Rogoff

* Frontline, Putin’s Way, January, 2015

June 19, 2017

So, I’m finally on my way home – in three hours I’ll arrive @JFK, in 12 hours I’ll see Rachel @GNV. Yay!

As much as I enjoyed a wonderful trip, with five days or so in Russia then a bit over a week in Greece, I am READY to be home. I have plans!

Things I liked: So much! Siberia was beautiful, the people were wonderful. Homes were very modern and sturdy and exhibited sustainability measures, like radiant heat from hot water pipes. I saw windmills all along the way across Greece, France and Spain on my final trip home. Greek food was outstanding! The prehistoric ruins at Delos captivate me still.

Disliked: Unease of people in Athens who perhaps do not care for Americans. Stench of sewage in Tinos. Russian food (mostly, though thin slices of dried fish with sugared frozen currents were delicious!).

Things I learned:

People are the same everywhere and loving and giving. Cultures in these far-apart regions developed oddly contiguously, similarly, with similar strategies, practices and beliefs. Similar Goddesses and Gods.

I love traveling. I love seeing the characters of foreign languages and hearing them spoken. But I wish things were universal: language, time, measuring systems, currency.

We are one world. We could recapture the ancient past by becoming COOPERATORS. We can keep ourselves safe, happy and free.

It is beginning to look like it’s time to put the Chicks in Charge!

July 10, 2017: Three female senators (W.Virginia, Maine, Alaska) killed the Obamacare repeal bill which had no replacement. One of them said ~”I came to Washington to help people.”

Go Girls!

Who are our own female senators? In my state? Yours? Cheer them on! Join them.

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