Siberian Floating Hospital

About the project

Title: Siberian Floating Hospital
Production company: Ethnogeographic Research Foundation, Format TV
Country of production: Russia
Year of Production: 2014
Production stage:
Duration: 93 min.
Planned premiere: January, 2015
Project made with the financial support of the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation

Film crew

Scriptwriter: Tatyana Soboleva
Film director: Tatyana Soboleva
Producer: Vlad Ketkovich
Director of photography: Dmitry Rakov, Alexey Strelov
Sound director: Sorin Apostol
Co-producer Oksana Barkovskaya


Through half-a-year journey on Siberian floating hospital in the Ob’ river region, we meet people of our country, and get to know them – who they are, what they think about, what are their dreams, and thus start to understand Russia a bit better.


When the Siberian winter releases its grip every year in May, twenty doctors, mostly women, board a special ship - a floating hospital, leaving their families behind. The ship crisscrosses the Siberian North, bringing medical care to the remotest rural outposts. Locals wait for this ship, for them doctors are heralds from the big world. For the doctors, it is an adventure that alters them and that many of them have become addicted to.
Majority of doctors are women who are not married, or divorced. Salaries in normal clinics are rather low and in order to support their kids they need to go on a shift work for half a year – until river gets frozen again. They float to village dwellers, leaving their children and normal life behind.
North of Siberia is a territory with rigid climate, and further to the north you go, the tougher is the situation – impassable taiga, swamps, midges and mosquitoes, winter half a year.  Villages in the area have less luck – there are even no roads to many of them. The only pass is water. Hospitals left from the Soviet times are closed now, doctors are gone. Villages are isolated.
Each village has it’s distinctive face. Sergey Ivanovitch from Aneevo is sure that we all live here due to huge experiment and somebody invisible is watching us and monitoring, if we survive or not. Old man Mikhail Petrovich at his 80th spends half a year at the taiga forest hunting. He also knows lots of medical herbs. He says “All sicknesses can be cured by the frost”. In the village Sartinya there live jolly people – they joke and lough all the time when at the hospital ship. But there is only one child in the village of 40 houses… Saranpaul village hasn’t seen floating hospital for 7 years – rivers are getting shallow, there is no fleet that used to clean rivers. This village is even more isolated from the big world than others. They used to mind crystal here, and now many people from this village have lung diseases.
Sailors have their own problems. Every day water gets lower and they have to maneuver to avoid the shoals. This time Saranpaul had luck for only one day – next day the ship had to escape.
Doctors also have hard times. They live according to schedule, in double cabins, lines of patients every day. Nowhere to go, nowhere to hide. They cannot talk to their families often – mobile net does not exist in many places. Tatjana Petrovna has her grandson born. Nurse Victoria’s small son is forgetting her voice and does not want to talk to her. Each of doctors has his grieves, his problems…
But ship moves on according to its schedule. Mosquitos are changed with hot weather, after hot weather comes rainy season, after white nights comes darkness and snow. Patients, who come early in the morning, stand in the darkness, get cold and joke with each other, and laugh.
“Doctors prohibited me salty and hot food”. –“Are you still allowed to sing?” –“yes, perhaps”.
In every village there is a club and its talents – they sing songs. Sometimes there is a feeling that singing is the only thing that is left to do.
- “Oligarchs are selling our land for billions and billions – one man says to another in the corridor of the hospital”  -“I wouldn’t take this money” – answers companion.
Ship passes ruined river bank with remains of river Station. –It’s been 20 years of Perestroyka, and we still cannot finish it” – says captain gloomily. And he calls to the hospital: we need pillows, simple pillows; we buy them on our own money, it’s no good!
The ship’s route is lit by flames of gas rigs. Boatswain s wears: Map is not correct! Captain is close: - Why do you think dinosaurs died out? It’s just a theory about meteor… Soon the same thing will happen to us…
Finally it’s a huge Khanti-Mansiys, lit with lights. They haven’t seen town for half a year. They pack equipment and drag it up the stairs. Ship now is lonely and abandoned.  Doctors rush to leave it – some with a happy heart, somebody is crying. They hate this place of half-a-year imprisonment, but next spring most of them will be back, this work stays with them, this is their life style, and they actually love it and miss it.  


About the film director Tatyana Soboleva:
Tatyana Soboleva was born on 1975 in Moscow. She learned a drama, a psychology, was a student of the Literature University.In 2004 she graduated from All-Russia State Institute of Cinematography (VGIK) where she pursued a degree in Film Directing. Her documentary debut 'FRANCOIS: RESIDENS PERMIT' was a participant more than 20 International festivals, and deserved some awards including «The best documentary» (IFF in Tehran). In succeeding years she made some independent documentaries and films for TV channels. Her films were shown and were awarded on different Film Festivals. In 2011-2013 she participated in different International workshops, like “East European Forum”, “Baltic Sea Forum”, UKUS Refineri, Below Zero, etc. Tatyana Soboleva is a member of Directors Guild, Russia. 

DIRECTOR’S FILMOGRAFY (selected) 2013 “Two sides of one horse” national competition "Message 2 Man"IFF (Russia), "Flahertiana" IFF (Russia), "Window to Europe" FF (Russia), 'Saratov Suffering" IFF (Russia), "Cinedoc Tbilisi" IFF competition "Focus on Caucasus" (Georgia),Special Prize "Saratov Suffering" IFF (Russia),Special Prize "People knowing the world" FF (Russia), “ArtDocfest” (proframme “Wensday”), the participant of conference INPUT, short-list of the National Award “ Lawrel Brench” 2011 “Walks without” Award for the docudrama, DOCUMENT.ART. IFF (2012 Romania), Special prize of Directorate of the «Saratov Sufferings» IFF «For meaningful dialogue of cultures and people» 2009 «Proof of love» (doc.) Prize of 15th IFF on Human Rights "Stalker", Audience Award IFF “ARTkino”, Diploma of the IFF «Saratov sufferings», participant of Russian National TV Award “Country” 2007 «Russian woman Svetlana Sidorova» (doc.) Prize «Best film in genre» IFF «Saratov sufferings», short-list IFF “Flahertyana online”, nomination of national award “Strana”, the participant of the All-Russia festival of short author's cinema "ART CINEMA" , «Univercine Cinema russe» (France), «San Francisco Documentary Film Festival», “Zimbabwe International Film Festival» 2004 «Francois: resident permit» (doc.) Prize for “ The Best documentary film” of the International Film Festival in Tehran (2005), The diploma «Festival of Nations” (Austria), remedial festival "Stalker"(Russia), has entered 5 nominees on «The Laurel branch» TV Award, participant of the IFF in Montekantini «FilmVideo 2005» (Italy), Tampere I.F.F. and more than 20 other IFFs. 

TV PROJECTS Documentary series on the World War Two "To Remember..."( TV Channel “Russia 24” 2010) «Birth and death of Russian Utopias» (doc, 39 min) TV Channel “Culture”, 2011

About the Producer Vlad Ketkovich :
Date of birth: 20.09.1971. Graduated Moscow State Teacher Training University, studied at Higher Courses of Scriptwriters and Directors. First filming experiences - visual anthropology: Pigmy people, Peruvian Indians, nomadic Kazakhs, etc. As a journalist, published articles and photos at GEO, National Geographic and other magazines. In 2000 founded Ethnogeographic Research Foundation. 
Vlad Ketkovich has participated in number of International Documentary Workshops and Pitching sessions in 2010-2012, like Hot Docs Forum, LeipzigDoc Co-Production Meeting, EURODOC, Dragon Forum, Ex-Oriente Workshop, INPUT, and EDN’s professional events (Tromso, Thessaloniki, Baltic Sea Forum, etc.) Vlad Ketkovich is a member of EDN, International Federation of Journalists, Russian Geographical Society and Eurasian Academy of Television and Radio.

About production company Ethnogeographic Research Foundation, Format TV:
Since 2005 Ethnogeographic Research Foundation (Ethnofund) has produced more than 20 documentaries (most of them with Russian State support), that are broadcasted on Russian TV channels. Ethnofund has won a number of prizes and diplomas at different Cinema and Television Film Festivals.
Starting from 2010 Ethnofund is looking for foreign partners and works with international co-productions. Company’s ambition is to bring Russian directors and Russian stories to international TV and film market.

Projects in progress:
“On the Edge of the Snow” (director Irina Zuy, Russia – Germany, preproduction)
“Siberia’s Floating Hospital” (director Tatiana Soboleva, Russia, postproduction)
“Men’s Choice” (director Elena Demidova, Russia – Norway - Finland, postproduction)
Most recent films produced by the company:
"Leninland" , 2013, 52 min, dir. Askold Kurov, doc
IFF for Human Rights “Stalker”, Moscow, Russia, 2013, Award from Guild of Cinema Critics and Cinema Researchers
North American Premiere film "Leninland" will be at Seatle International Film Festival
«Gentle Art» (2009, director Alexey Pogrebnoy, Russia, 39 min – Channel Cultura, Channel Russia-1)
Winner of Russian National TV Prize “Country” (2011), Jury Award „Best Director”, 7th Russian Festival of Anthropological Films (2011); Winner of Russian Mass-Media award «Patriot of Russia» (2010); International film festival  «Agrosvit 2009» (Ukraine) – jury prize, Selection of international film market «East Silver Market», etc.

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