Mikhail Barynin, Russia
Sergei lives alone at the top of the world. He is a traditional horse breeder living in the Sakha Republic in Russia. Although he has a wife and children in town, his life is mostly solitary as he spends the majority of his time with his horses out in the wilderness. Although he admits it is a difficult life, it is one he chose and he could never image doing anything else. However, he is getting older now and he is beginning to worry about what will happen to his beloved horses and his holdings once he is too old to continue.
Director Mikhail Barynin follows Sergei and documents his daily life as he treks hundreds of kilometers in the snow from location to location. The scenery is stunning and stark which makes it all the more jarring when Sergei makes his way into bleak and remote Soviet towns with the sickle and hammer still painted on the sides of the apartment blocks. It is amazing to think that anyone could live up there, never mind choose to do so. After a while, the beauty of it starts to sink in. Absolute isolation and the independence it requires to survive in such conditions are certainly admirable if not enviable. It begs the question of how much longer will this lifestyle survive, before no one wishes to be a horse farmer in the wilderness anymore? And while that choice is certainly understandable, when one sees the pride that Sergei takes in his work and the quality he produces, it seems in a way rather tragic that such skills may soon no longer exist.