Keeping it spooky
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Keeping it spooky

French Frights: Sorgoi Prakov

Have you ever watched this strange found footage?

A mustache wearing man with a weird contraption around his head is seen smiling at the camera.

The first time ALT236 met Raphael Cherkaski, they were both students in the Beaux Arts in Paris. The French YouTuber and musician distinctly recalls having been drawn towards Raph because he was wearing weird contraptions.

Those contraptions were weight Raphael, RAF, explained to ALT236 were an artistic project the young man had. He wanted to keep on carrying the weight of the fat he’d been losing for over a year. Weird guy, the YouTuber might have thought, interesting guy.

If only he’d known where RAF would take him.

Cherkaski is but one of the many alias of RAF. To some, the perversionist movement he’s known as a mentally disabled artist with whom they do happenings, to some he is a writer, a painter, a performer, a singer. Watching the documentary which now accompanies the Blu-Ray of Sergei Prakov one cannot prevent themselves from being amazed by the eclectic nature of RAF’s art.

If there’s one thing people claim about Cherkaski, it’s that he’s one to enroll you quickly in his endeavors. Everyone seems to think he’s one of the most gentle souls ever and this certainly plays a part in all of this.

Pretty much like everyone always babble about Cherkaski’s weight both a problem and an artistic mean to him.

At the end of the year 2003, RAF decided to make a movie. This would be his final student project. A movie about a desperate soul drowning in madness during their parisian vacation.

RAF already had contact at the time, but the very guerilla nature of the project was what interested him, this and the project of losing weight. The found footage craze which existed at the time, associated with RAF’s eagerness to jump on any bandwagon so as to experiment might have been the moto which put this all in motion.

It is said the first draft wasn’t really a draft but a sheet on which a lot of ideas were scribbled. Still, Raf was a student of the Beaux Arts, someone close to future YouTuber ALT236 and from this and the contact he already had from the performance scene, RAF was soon able to get a whole scripted draft.

His movie would go from the Aeroport Charles de Gaulle to the coast of Brittany in a hallucinogenic road trip. My European Nightmare is the subtitle of the flick. It would have to be shot in chronological order, for Cherkaski to be able to lose weight as the filming went on.

This method would also enable him to further change his appearance by shaving his head for instance.

While the production began under the best auspices, there wasn’t any real money to begin with, despite a campaign on YouTube called Save Sorgoi to try and raise awareness on the production of the movie.. Testimonies state that the movie cost around 10,000€ but a lot of the crew members state that they put their own money in the flick. Because they believe in RAF.

As the shooting went on, and the sanity of Sorgoi declined, crew members claimed they had to contend not with RAF anymore but a lot with Sorgoi himself. Let’s not forget that RAF had been a performer, being known all over the art industry through different aliases, creating character may have been both a blessing and a curse. The editor states that when Sorgoi buried the DV tapes in a garden in Paris, RAF really went and buried the rushes from the whole movie in said park, only to unearth them the next day.

Still, this madness is certainly what gives Sorgoi Prakov such a gut-wrenching feel. A lot of people question the veracity of it. once it was released. While the production started for two month, the movie wasn’t released until 2013. Probably because Cherkaski, always eager to jump on a new wave, didn’t intend for the post production process to be so long and so dull.

Flick first came out in the Cinemabrut film festival before gaining traction in the underground cult scene. Sorgoi Prakov was born. Both a horror found footage and an art movie.

This cult following which RAF wasn’t prepared for? It led to the creation of a rap band. Another artistic endeavor for RAF. Another alias.

A never ending quest for experiment.

When a company contacted him to release the movie on Blu-Ray, RAF refused any interview, giving them instead a pack of rush before vanishing. Even his band members didn’t know where he was when the documentary about Sorgoi Prakov was shot. A promised making of which went hand in hand with the crowdfunding campaign to try to get the underground movie a HD remaster.

One last final update of the campaign states something along the lines of: “Raphaël, we know you’re reading our post, we’ve seen your likes on facebook. Please respond.”

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Basile Lebret

Basile Lebret

93 Followers

I write about the history of artmaking, I don’t do reviews.