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Painted frame by frame, a vivid animation restores a history lost to deportation

In 1942, Nazi forces captured a portion of the Kalmyk Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic, home to the Kalmyks – an ethnic group with a language and heritage rooted in Mongolia, most of whom were Tibetan Buddhists. While Kalmyks were predominantly loyal to the Soviet Union throughout the Second World War, and many fought in the Red Army, a small group volunteered to join the Nazi army. Following the Soviet Union’s recapture of Kalmyk territory in December 1943, Soviet authorities declared all Kalmyk people guilty of cooperation with the Nazis and ordered their deportation and exile to Siberia. By the time they were allowed to return home in 1957, roughly half of the Kalmyks had died. The Montreal-based animator Alisi Telengut’s short film Nutag – Homeland is a requiem for the many lives lost during the widespread displacement of the Kalmyk people. Using imagery hand-painted frame by frame, the aching visual poem reflects on a largely forgotten tragedy by blending symbolic motifs with a timeless, mournful folk overtone.

Director: Alisi Telengut

27 July 2017

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