Aliens vs Predators. Dmitry Davydov’s “Illegal” has been released

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An image of Yakut director Dmitry Davydov “Illegal”, a film about immigrants and Russia, where everyone is a stranger, has been released in Russia.

If someone had said twenty years ago that Yakut cinema would soon become perhaps the most interesting phenomenon in Russian cinema, one would have laughed. What is Yakut Cinema? But by the end of the 1990s, fueled by the strong development of national identity, Yakut cinema began to appear timidly at first, then increasingly active and noticeably appearing in the cinematic landscape.

First – in Yakut, then – in Russian and then – in international. In the early 2000s, people started talking about Yakut movies, although in the beginning Yakut directors tried to make not-so-original junk. But gradually, Yakut cinema began to look for its own way – the directors did not want to be an exotic product in the eyes of the film community, but at the same time, the Yakut were not satisfied with the choice with which they would remain a tiny and unknown garbage annex.

Gradually, an unusual and unusual open-air cinema came to the fore – preserving the natural, not “exported” national flavor, but at the same time built according to all the laws of exciting western cinema. Mikhail Lukachevsky, Stepan Burnashev, Vladimir Munkuev, Eduard Novikov, Tatyana Everstova, Dmitry Davydov, Kostas Marsaan – the list of talented names continues. Local entrepreneurs have started investing in Yakut cinema – not only the big ones, but also the smaller ones, up to the owners of shops and gas stations. In fact, yakustkoe cinema is rising around the world.


Dmitry Davydov is one of the most brilliant Yakut directors. By nationality, however, he is Russian, his mother tongue is Russian. Until recently, until I realized that directing is not combined with any other profession, I worked as a principal in a rural school, before that I worked in the same school as a math teacher. Two years ago, when Scarecrow’s film won Kinotavr (jury chairman Boris Khlebnikov said the jury voted unanimously), Dmitri was still trying to combine direction and direction. In his next film – “Illegal” – he has already come as a professional director.

According to the plot, the Kyrgyz teenager Nurbek (14-year-old Bishkek resident Erzhan Dauletbekov) arrives in the unknown enemy Yakutsk, gets a job as a laborer, then is fired and wanted to deport him – he has no document about life in Russia. The guy runs to shuffle, between the times he enters the millstones of a criminal confrontation between two local mafias – Yakut and Armenians – he barely survives and begins a long journey. Where, why – the intrigue lasts until the end. Nurbek wanders through the dull snowy tundra with ruined boots, frozen, so hungry that when he sees buds on a tree, he greedily chews them straight from the branch. Wandering on the road to the villages, he encounters nothing but anger – “come on, get out of here, what the hell is stuck here!” He is already ready to lose his human appearance, a little more – and will start screaming at the moon, but the unexpected universe turns to the hero with a bright side.

The first part of the film – Nurbek’s bitter life as an illegal immigrant in the city – is completely realistic and is part of the festival’s films that have already become known – such as “Products 24” by Mikhail Borodin or “Ike” by Sergey Dvortsevoy .

Frame from the movie “Illegal” by Dmitry Davydov © MVK

“Illegal” begins as an uncomplicated European drama – the average European art house has long dominated the subject of foreigners and is already looking for new forms for this content. Russian cinema is just beginning to develop the issue of immigrants, so what is new to us is something common in Europe.

In the second part, when the hero’s hard journey in the tundra begins, nature comes to the fore – the favorite intellectual child of all Yakut directors – with its secret knowledge and secrets. In the film, nature will never turn to face Nurbek, will never reach out to him, will never open her arms and will not help. He seems to be offended by the press for some reason, and this is a very important moment in the film – an unexpected “mismatch” between man and nature.

In almost all Yakut films, an individual is a cell of a large global organism from which no one can fall (this happened in Edurad Novikov’s “The King Bird”, Vladimir Munkuev’s “Nuuccia” and many others). A person must remain himself, this is a strict requirement of nature. The hero of “Illegal” seems to escape from his own womb, is given to the power of the dark vicious forces and nature rejects Nurbek from itself, setting one trap for him one after the other.

Frame from the movie
Frame from the movie “Illegal” by Dmitry Davydov © MVK

In the third part, the hero finally finds what was so difficult to follow. He will go through the betrayal of nature and the unexpected support of a man – an old hunter (Stepan Burnashev Sr., father of the famous Yakut director Stepan Burnashev), he will find what he was looking for and … he will return.

This is Russia. Here everyone is a stranger to each other and even Nature itself seems to understand it, so it is not in a hurry to help people. Davydov shows the Russia we live in but do not know. We are all here like illegals, we are all here through the eyes of birds, and even an illegitimate boy from not-so-prosperous Kyrgyzstan is somehow easier – he came, he saw a stranger here – and he left. And we stayed. Strangers to each other forever.

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