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Oscar nominated “Mamay” was released online


The first Ukrainian film nominated for an Oscar in 2003, “Mamay” directed by Oles Sanin was released in the online cinema Takflix.com. The film is available for viewing in all parts of the world with English subtitles.


The film “Mamay” is a diploma work of Oles Sanin, his first feature film. The idea to make it came from the director by accident. Since childhood, he was interested in Ukrainian history, culture, folklore and later became seriously engaged in kobzarism.

The shooting of the film lasted only 24 days. The film starred the famous Ukrainian actor and director of Crimean-Tatar origin Akhtem Seitablaev. One of the roles was also played by the film’s director Oles Sanin.

I know these stories well, so I set about what makes my heart ache, what I will do, despite the difficulties of financing, the difficulties with the work. This is something I can’t live without. So I took it and made a movie.

Oles Sanin

The cinematographer of the film is Serhiy Mykhalchuk. The music was written by the composer Alla Zagaykevich. In his film, Oles Sanin acts as a screenwriter, director and performer of one of the roles, but, in his opinion, it is not so much. The subtitles of the film do not yet indicate that he actively participated in the creation of music and decoration of the film

This film belongs to the category of auteur cinema (sorry for the outdated word), so no one could write me a script for this story. In fact, the screenwriters are the Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar people, because I took the epic as a basis – the Ukrainian and Crimean Tatars. I did not come up with anything – this is the text of the Ukrainian People’s Duma, “Thoughts about the Azov brothers“, and the Turkic epic – “Song of the dervish about the valiant Mamluks” – is a story of five hundred years ago.

Oles Sanin

In “Mamay” there is not one plot, but there are several plots at once. The first story is “Thought about the three brothers of Azov”, a Ukrainian song dating back to the 16th century. The second story was found in Iranian literature. Then Sanin found another source in the culture of Crimean Tatars. It is called – “Dervish song about three valiant Mamluks”, it is an epic of the Turkic people. It tells that three Tatar brothers who served as mercenaries in different armies leave the service after hearing the cry of the Golden Singing Cradle.

The Tatars have such a legend: when thу Golden Cradle falls into the hands of foreigners, then the Tatars lose their power, their people are scattered, and their family is broken. According to sources, the Crimean Tatars brought this Cradle from Mongolia. It is like the cradle of Genghis Khan, given to him by his mother, and in the Cradle was placed Yevshan-potion (wormwood) and he carried this Cradle with him as a symbol of his power, a symbol of his land. Tatars – a people who lived in the Free Steppe, a people who fought, grazed flocks. And this smell of wormwood, yevshan-potion, is the smell of their homeland.

Sanin combined these stories, and tried to “create his own cinematic history based on this epics.

“Mamay”, 2003, Posters

Three brothers, escaping from Tatar captivity, steal two horses trained by Tatar good. The older and middle brothers are horses, and the younger is wheat. They throw the youngest in the steppe to die. And he sees his death on the tomb of Savur. The brothers reach the Kalka River and wait for it there for three days. They have committed a terrible sin. And the punishment for them is that the Tatars catch up with them and kill them – not for stealing things (as the Duma interprets it), but for abandoning their own brother…

And between these two stories there is already a third story written by Sanin himself. The story of how a Tatar woman finds the youngest dying Cossack in the steppe; brings him home, treats; falls in love with him, becomes his wife. Their life is dramatic, tragic – because she is of the Tatar family, and he is of Ukrainian descent, that this family betrayed and left him. This guy becomes a Cossack named Mamay.

According to Oles Sanin, the film was nominated at the initiative of the American Academy and those who watched the film in the United States. They made an effort, they lobbied for this picture. A letter was sent from the American Academy to the Ministry of Culture of Ukraine to consider the possibility of nominating this film from the state.

In 2003, the film was nominated for an Oscar for Best Feature Film in a Foreign Language.

The film is stored in the collection of the Dovzhenko Center and now it is available for viewing online on Takflix.