The Tunguska Project

Gisèle Gordon

2005, 82:32 minutes, colour, English/Cree


In 1908, deep in the heart of Siberia, a devastating explosion rocked the earth. Its cause has never been determined. Compelled to uncover its meaning, Cree playwright Floyd Favel leaves Saskatchewan on a quest that takes him to the very epicentre of the mysterious blast. “By revealing a secret, you've sold your soul….”

A century ago, an explosion equivalent to over a thousand atomic bombs rocked the Tunguska region of central Siberia and its Indigenous Evenki inhabitants. Shockwaves were recorded all over the world. It lit up the night skies in London and Paris so brightly that newspapers could be read outside. Its cause remains a mystery. In 2002, in northern Saskatchewan, Canada, Indigenous playwright Floyd Favel has become obsessed with the mystery of the Tunguska explosion. He decides it will be the subject of his next play. He sets out on a journey to the epicentre of the blast, asking Evenki elders and reindeer herders what they were told by ancestors who survived the devastating explosion. But this is no ordinary expedition. Even before Favel leaves home, enigmatic signs and portents make it clear that this voyage will be something far more than a research trip. What Favel experiences will reverberate through to his very soul. The closer he gets to the epicentre, the more his themes for the play unfold - full of pain for the loss of Indigenous cultures, increasingly autobiographical, and punctuated with whispered warnings and psychic struggle. The Tunguska Project is a compelling portrait of a contemporary artist's spiritual and artistic quest for meaning across cultures and times.

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