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Saving North


Saving North is the story of a struggle for human and cultural survival in the mysterious and insular world of the Russian North. An outsider from England, photographer Richard Davies, enters this mysterious and vast region of the world with the hope of documenting both the glory and the tragic demise of its rapidly disappearing Wooden Churches. As Davies meets and becomes friends with the some of his Russian photo subjects, he finds himself getting emotionally involved with their struggle. He decides to put down his camera and get involved with church restoration.

            Early on in our story Davies befriends the famed Russian architect Alexander Popov who is deeply involved in working to preserve and share with the world the beauty and value of these ancient structures. Popov has uniquely discovered and reinvigorated both the tools and processes that restore life back to the North. But it’s an uphill battle against strong and powerful forces.

            Together, Davies and Popov uncover the circumstances that led to the demise of the churches, and then join a small but growing group of passionate Russian citizens and outsiders from all walks of life who join the cause of Saving North.


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Russian premiere at Moscow Fest for Saving North: Rescuing the Wooden Churches of Northern Russia

The 42nd MIFF which was postponed due to the pandemic, is approaching fast. It will be held on the 1-8 of October 2020.   The new dates were coordinated with FIAPF (International Federation of Film Producers Associations) in the hope that the situation with COVID19 would have become stable. As we can see, not all of our hopes came true. A lot of questions and uncertainties remain.   For the greater part the Festival program was completed and settled with the rig...

Saving North selected to screen in Fort Lauderdale this fall

    35th Annual FLiFF will play  November 6 – 22, 2020 in Savor Cinema (a former church: how fitting) and two other venues. Celebrating its 35th annual festival in 2020, the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival (FLIFF) presents American indies and studio films, international films, student films, special tributes, seminars and introduces filmmakers to South Florida audiences. The festival runs November 6 – 22, ...

Saving North selected to screen at the interactive online MOVING PARTS FILM FESTIVAL September 26-27, 2020

In its 4th year this interactive online film festival includes guaranteed distribution with Filmocracy for all winning films, and a chance to connect with other partnering distribution services. Filmocracy is a gamified movie streaming platform that rewards users with virtual popcorn for discovering independent films. They have committed to helping their festival partners by building a virtual festival environment through which the energy & excitement of the festival experience is brought...

SAVING NORTH World Premiered at 5th "Beyond Borders" International Documentary Festival on the Greek island of Castellorizo

"SAVING NORTH: Rescuing the Wooden Churches of Northern Russia" To Make Its World Premiere at 5th "Beyond Borders" International Documentary Festival on the Greek island of Castellorizo The film premiered on Sunday, August 30, 2020, during the Festival's closing ceremonies. AUSTIN, Texas – The long-awaited feature-length documentary film, "SAVING NORTH: Rescuing the Wooden Churches of Northern Russia" by the award-winning American filmmaker J...

Saving North: The Trailer

Saving North - Trailer -- 2:30 from J. Mitchell Johnson on Vimeo. ...

Saving North: The crew

J. Mitchell Johnson self-made the film as a labor of love over a 8 year period with the help and support of various colleagues in the USA, Russia and the UK who assisted.               About J. Mitchell Johnson -- After completing graduate film studies at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, J. Mitchell Johnson began his professional career in Washington, DC working for four-time academy-award winning director Charles...

Saving North : The film's characters

Richard Davies               Noted British architectural photographer Richard Davies spends ten years traveling the Russian north in search of these disappearing churches for his acclaimed book of photos and essays, The Wooden Churches of Russia. As a result, Davies has becomes well-known for his obsession with Russian churches and the culture of northern Russia. The New York Times and other global media publications feature his ...

Saving North : J. Mitchell Johnson Director's statement

I am an American filmmaker who has been living and working between the US and Russia for more than 25 years. Over this period I have made movies and created media projects about Russia. In 2009 I married my wife who is a Russian citizen, and prefers living in her homeland. That’s why I began to spend significantly more time in Russia than elsewhere.               Living in Russia has given me the opportunity to begin exploring i...

Saving North: Synopsis

Saving North is the story of a struggle for human and cultural survival in the mysterious and insular world of the Russian North. An outsider from England, photographer Richard Davies, enters this mysterious and vast region of the world with the hope of documenting both the glory and the tragic demise of its rapidly disappearing Wooden Churches. As Davies meets and becomes friends with the some of his Russian photo subjects, he finds himself getting emotionally involved with their struggle. He d...

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