The goal of the Children of 1917 Project is to create a book and film from the interviews, footage, photos, and stories gathered during our team’s journalistic travels. It will involve extensive time on the road and require all its members to perform a variety of roles, drawing on expertise and experience they did not know they had. In the end, our goal is to gather and share the stories of up to two-dozen Russian centenarians.
Since we will be asking lots of questions of our interview subjects, we thought it only fair to start off by answering some questions about ourselves, so that readers can get to know us all a bit better.
NADEZHDA (NADYA) GREBENNIKOVA (journalist, translator, photographer-whisperer) takes great pride in the fact that she was born above the Arctic Circle, in Murmansk Oblast. She studied journalism in Veliky Novgorod, where she met and married Mikhail Mordasov. For the past several years the couple has made Sochi their home. She works as a journalist for print and online publications, writing on a wide range of subjects, from society and history, to culture, travel and the environment.
What is your favorite food? Fish of any sort. Except Surströmming (fermented Baltic Sea herring, a traditional northern Swedish dish).
What would you be doing now if you were not doing this project? I would be writing an article about my recent travels to Marrakesh, studying Swedish, and taking morning swims in the pool. And jealously following the exploits of the Children of 1917 expedition.
What is something interesting no one normally knows about you? I plan to live to 115. I am now actively investigating the secrets of long life.
Where is one place in the world you have not been but would like to go? Scotland. Because “my heart's in the highlands.”
YEVGENY (ZHENYA) MASHCHENKO (filmographer, resident expert on all things Asian) is the newest (and youngest) member of our production team. Born in the city of Yurga, Keremovo oblast, his family moved to Chita when he was eight. After he finished school, he moved to Krasnodar, where he studied to be a documentary filmmaker. He has worked on a variety of film projects, from Khafiz in Chechnya to a blind student music school, from punk rockers in Burma to the Rohingya people of Burma. Most recently he survived work on a documentary about a retired hitman. He is looking forward to working on this more “sedate” subject.
What is your favorite food? Pad See Ew (Thai Stir Fried Noodles).
What would you be doing now if you were not doing this project? Working on a film project in Krasnodar or Rostov-on-Don.
What is something interesting no one normally knows about you? I am a Siberian.
Where is one place in the world you have not been but would like to go? Iceland. Japan.
MIKHAIL (MISHA) MORDASOV (photographer, producer, fixer extraordinaire) was born in Novgorod and educated as a lawyer. Thankfully, however, he did not follow the law, having gotten hooked on photography while doing his compulsory military service. He now does freelance photography throughout Russia and Europe for a wide variety of top Western and Russian publications, and has received numerous awards and accolades. He considers surviving a 6000km road trip with Richardson to be one of his greatest achievements in life, yet still not as difficult as teaching photography courses to newbies.
What is your favorite food? Wild trout or salmon, cooked over an open fire on the banks of the White Sea. Truthfully, I have only had this dish once in my life.
What would you be doing now if you were not doing this project? Most likely I would be in Sochi, swimming in the sea in the morning, and spending the rest of the day thinking about my next project or shooting a project about lost homelands.
What is something interesting no one normally knows about you? I have a new hobby: jumping rope. I even brought along a rope on the trip and had the idea of doing it in every city we visit. But at the end of the day I only have the energy to gather a few photos for the blog.
Where is one place in the world you have not been but would like to go? Japan, because I love fish, rice, mountains and the ocean.
PAUL (PASHA) RICHARDSON (journalist, photographer, coffee-addict) was born in California, went to school in the Midwest, and now calls Vermont home. Bit by the Russian bug while in college, he helped run a Moscow-based Canadian-Soviet joint venture in the 1980s, then returned to the US to create a publishing company focused on Russia. When not writing, translating or doing Russia-related things, he can usually be found running or photographing Vermont’s back roads, but never mowing the lawn. He finds one of life’s most difficult challenges to be choosing between a single-malt scotch and a double IPA.
What is your favorite food? It’s a three-way-tie: rib eye steak, tacos, and cherry pie.
What would you be doing now if you were not doing this project? Scheming about another, similar sort of project, or maybe translating some Chekhov.
What is something interesting no one normally knows about you? Before being seduced by journalism and Russia, I wanted to be a chef. As a result, I still have amazing knife skills (for cutting up vegetables, that is).
Where is one place in the world you have not been but would like to go? Scotland.
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