Fatei and the sea
Producer: Andrey Sigle
Director: Alina Rudnitskaya
Screenwriter: Mila Kudryashova
Running time: 90 min.
A man who follows his dream, who battles the elements from the deep sea to the lawless land above. A man risking his own life and his family's fate to make it come true. A man who, against all odds, keeps his family alive and his business afloat.
His name is Gennady Podkorytov, most people call him his father's name – Fatei. We are on Rikord Island, off the south-east coast of Russia, where Fatei runs his sea farm. The underwater fields demand his and his family's hard work every single day. The elements are against him: fierce storms cut the island off the mainland, no way of getting there or even sending an emergency signal. Huge waves pound on the shores, bringing their messengers – orcas are good, sharks are bad news. Yet Fatei has come to co-exist with them. Fatei struggles with the local authorities as much as with the elements. A Sisyphean task. When Fatei keeps quiet, the authorities keep quiet, too. When he rings alarm, they promise help, but just hold hearing after hearing. When he takes action himself, they threaten with jail.
One of his main conflicts in life: he works for the common good, yet finds himself an outlaw. A law on sea farming was passed last year, but so far is just a shell. It leaves open, whether the farmer actually owns what he grows in state-owned waters. Can the fruit of his hard work be taken away from him at any moment? Sea cucumbers and other sea creatures are listed in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, working with them is an offence from misdemeanor to felony. The farmer can’t rely on legally owning what he grows. He can’t fence his farm off, as the waters belong to the state.
Machiavellians use this gap in legislation. They simply rob and make a fortune on other people’s work rather than putting an effort into building a business themselves with all the slippery slopes . Fatei’s Leviathan is the poachers, covered by the authorities' connivance, if not support. They come by night. Armed. In order to steal. Sea farmers are not protected by law. All his plantations are in federal waters. Many people read belonging to the state as belonging to no one. The poachers want trepang, sea cucumbers, not just a delicacy but also a potent cancer treatment. Any self-defence can lead to a prison term. Which already happened once, when Fatei’s son was sentenced to three years on probation. The poachers have friends in high places.
Masha and Andrei, Fatei’s children, are the only ones the farmer can count on. His dream was to become a microbiologist – Andrei became one. Masha also supports Fatei’s business – yet it’s a hard burden, risking your life for your dream, for your right.
But Fatei doesn't lose his spirit. The sea still draws him like a magnet. When he dives into this magical world, the salty water washes away all his sorrows, as the underwater world reveals its secrets and whispers lines of poetry. As long as Fatei has the sea, he has nothing to fear.