Join journalist Andrei Shkolny on his quixotic quest to make a meaningful independent newspaper in a remote Russian town.
Producer: Eline Flipse
Photography: Erik van Empel
Editor: Puck Goossen
Music: Maurice Horsthuis
In Russian with English subtitles
With: Andrei Shkolny
Festivals: Rotterdam, Amsterdam Documentary 2011
The Russian city of Ulyanovsk is named for its most famous son, Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, better known as Lenin. The town’s official newspaper is, of course, The Leninist. Exasperated by the four-page state mouthpiece, journalist Andrei Shkolny has launched an independent paper, produced on a computer in his lounge. It’s a brave venture. Our Newspaper is committed to covering the stories The Leninist won’t touch: the villages cut off by broken roads; the communities that have not had running water for months; the pollution spewed into the river by the local butter factory. But even the tenacious Shkolny has his limits. “I wouldn’t write a negative article about the traffic police,” he says as he drives the crumbling road between villages. “They would take away my licence, take away my car.” The austere, unforgiving region is exquisitely captured in Eline Flipse’s film. Its sombre, darkly humorous residents – their faces as weathered as the landscape around them – might have stepped out of the pages of Chekhov.
After a gruelling day, Shkolny crouches over a fishing hole drilled many metres through the snow. “I’m prohibited from doing legal things,” he says. “That’s why I just want to go somewhere and get a fishing rod.” He’s thought about abandoning the paper, and the country. “I want to start my own business. Fishing tourism. I’ll supply the tourists with a boat, rod, and bait, and when they catch something, I’ll prepare it for them. In New Zealand. That’s my dream.” — TM