The setting is an isolated, remote spot in Russia, the village of Shoina – sixty kilometres north of Archangel. During winter the village is totally inaccessible, and in the other seasons it is only less so.

Ulla Jacobsen
Jacobsen was previously editor in chief of the DOX Magazine from March 1998 until early 2009. A lot of the DOX articles republished in ModernTimes was ordered by her. After 2009 she worked freelance, until she died in 2013.

During summer and autumn, when the film was shot, the houses get covered with sand that constantly is blown in by the wind. What used to be a prosperous fishing town is now a quiet desert, but both young and old people are still living there, and even want to stay. “What keeps us here?” a young man asks, and answers his own question by saying, “Somehow we don’t feel like leaving”.One reason for that is the universal need to feel that you belong somewhere, the love for one’s birthplace. It is the incredible nature and, for some, the longing for seclusion. As the film advances it draws us into this exceptional landscape and the lives of its inhabitants. The special beauty is stunningly captured by the camera: The formations in the sand, constantly shifting in the blowing wind, the sea and the abandoned fishing boats like sculptures on the beach.

The open vistas give the inhabitants a feeling of freedom, even if they are unable to leave. One of the characters, a young woman, settled down here to ‘find herself’ and the meaning of life. It is certainly a good place to philosophize, since there is little to disturb you  – except the sand.

One more pragmatic reason for staying is also brought up by one of the inhabitants: the fact that many Russian people are not paid their wages. In the city you are lost without money,but in Shoina it’s easier to survive; you can catch fish or hunt wild geese.

More than half of settlement already buryed under sandy dunes coming from the West Aug. 2005
More than half of settlement already buryed under sandy dunes coming from the West
Aug. 2005

The destiny of the people in Shoina is shaped not only by the rugged landscapes, but also by Russian history. The old people have lived in severe poverty and endured wars where they lost husbands or family. They have also lived through times when Shoina was a flourishing fishing village. This is depicted in footage from old Soviet propaganda films that shows the happy, hardworking men of Shoina working on the fishing boats, and the people having a good time at the club in their spare time. The good times changed however, when the government issued a decree against fishing. And the wrecks of the fishing boats and the half empty discotheque bear witness to the decay.

It is a very poetic, but in no way slow paced film. It combines poetry with montage. For example, there is a playful scene with two men riding their unique motorbikes that are customised for the landscape, i.e. they are fitted with three tractor tires for riding through sand. The scene is filmed like a car chase, fast cut, at full speed while the music escalates violently. Blown in with the Wind is a pleasure to watch and reveals a very unique place.


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