Baigal Nurr – Lake Baikal Image

Baigal Nurr – Lake Baikal

By Sabina Dana Plasse | January 27, 2024

SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL 2024 REVIEW! Baigal Nurr – Lake Baikal is the latest stop-motion film from acclaimed filmmaker Allisi Telengut. The writer and director uses her art to provide an understanding of culture, time, and place. Through her incredible imagination and expert use of her medium, the filmmaker creates animated stories frame by frame under a camera with expansive use of colorful mixed media materials to generate movement with her hand-made and painterly visuals. This animated short offers an incredible sense of visual artistry and explores more prominent themes of ethnography.

Even if the subject matter is entirely foreign to you, the reimagining of the formation of Lake Baikal in Siberia, it does not matter. Telengut’s art provides a connection to a story about the natural world in which we all live and that there are native people who have a much greater understanding of how to appreciate and honor it than anyone today. However, what is most interesting about Baigal Nurr – Lake Baikal is so much of its history and formation and decline resonates on a larger macro scale of how the Earth presently exists — earthquakes, tsunamis, fires, floods, blizzards, drought, and flooding — all happening now. Could this be a harbinger of what’s to come? Are we vanishing?

A still from Baigal Nurr Lake Baikal by Alisi Telengut, an official selection of the International Shorts Competition at the 2024 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute. Photo by Alisi Telengut.

“…reimagining of the formation of Lake Baikal in Siberia…”

Telengut’s artistic, imaginative, and mesmerizing stop-motion bird’s-eye view into perspective is enlivened by the addition of a simple one-word narration in Buryat, which is also offered in English by an indigenous female voice. Buryat is an endangered Mongolian dialect of which Telengut is a descendant. It is a historic exploration of a sacred space colonized over 400 years ago, but today, it is no longer accessible due to the Russo-Ukrainian War.

The filmmaker visualizes the region’s crystalline limestone and white marble landscape minerals through her mixed-media paintings. She gathered the materials in Germany and Switzerland to create an even more significant connection to her heritage and the land. Another element of Baigal Nurr – Lake Baikal that makes this work so powerful is its deeply embedded understanding of place and purpose.

Telengut’s ability to capture and hold one’s attention with conscious use of space, sound, and silence is captivating. Through Baigal Nurr – Lake Baikal, she provides a gift to her people. Telengut uses her artistic abilities in a beautiful and intense form to tell an enriching story of beauty and awareness.

Baigal Nurr – Lake Baikal screened at the 2024 Sundance Film Festival.

Baigal Nurr – Lake Baikal (2024)

Directed and Written: Allisi Telengut

Starring: , etc.

Movie score: 9/10

Baigal Nurr – Lake Baikal Image

"…an enriching story of beauty and awareness."

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