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Skyscrapers Dance to Protect Yekaterinburg’s Architectural Heritage

The Kinoproba international festival-workshop for film-school students opened its doors in the Urals city of Yekaterinburg on Tuesday. The annual fest, which has hosted works from the world’s best film schools since 2004, was kicked off by an eye-catchiing short animated film called “Dance A Trois.”

The film shows constructivist landmark buildings in Yekaterinburg coming to life and dancing through the city. The 2-minute clip tells a classic love story. A woman — that is, the famous local hotel Iset — walks through the streets and meets another local famous edifice – the white water tower. The man — that is, the white water tower — presents a flower to the woman and they continue their dancing stroll through the painted streets of the animated city.

But the creators of this cartoon – the well-known Yekaterinburg artists Alexei Ryzhkov and Grigory Malyshev – have made Iset hotel a bit frivolous. The Iset hotel forgets about her water tower boyfriend as soon as she meets another interesting building – the DOSAAF building. DOSAAF is the abbreviation for state-run public organization that has a range of military and extreme training workshops for civilians, mostly for children and teenagers. It was very popular in the Soviet era and had branches all across the country.

The Iset Hotel instantly falls in love with the DOSAAF building, and they leave the white water tower behind. The tower bursts into tears under the pouring rain. But the story does have a surprise ending. The tune for “Dance A Trois” was composed by a Russian musician Alexander Pantykin, laureate of many international music competitions and now head of the Yekaterinburg branch of the Russian composers’ union. 

Despite the simple plot of the clip, the cartoon highlights a very urgent issue in Yekaterinburg – the preservation of the city’s architectural heritage.

“We chose these particular buildings on purpose,” one of the cartoon creators, Alexei Ryzhkov, told The Moscow Times. “We tried to show that these and other buildings are a big part of our history, the history of our city and country, and they have to be preserved.”

All of the cartoon characters – the Iset hotel, the white water tower and the DOSAAF building – were constructed in 1930’s and, according to media reports, are slated for reconstruction before the celebrations for the 300th anniversary of the city in 2023.

The Kinoproba festival will run until Saturday. More information about schedule, participants and its program is available on its official website.