Last February, snowboard filmmaker Matteo Maggi and photographer Andrea Schilirò -- along with riders Antti-Juhani "Naku" Piirainen, Tomi Passi and Stefano Benchimol -- left Helsinki on an epic adventure along the Trans-Siberian Railway with one goal: to capture urban snowboarding sessions in some of the most remote and harsh locales in the world. In the end, they experienced a whole lot more. Maggi's upcoming film, "Siberia Teaches," documents the culture, climate and people that made their trip across Russia so compelling. We caught up with the filmmaker and photographer to learn more.
ESPN: Had anyone in your crew explored the urban scene along the Trans-Siberian Railway before you struck off for Siberia, or did you just wing it?
Matteo Maggi: We decided to leave for Siberia because we were looking for a real adventure and something that nobody had done before. We all had been to Russia one time before, but just close to the European border, never deep in Siberia.
What were your expectations before leaving?
MM: I was pretty scared. I had some crazy thoughts that that could have been the last trip of my life.
Andrea Schilirò: Yeah, everybody told us to be careful about this trip, that it would be dangerous.
Where did you start and where did the trip end?
MM: We traveled for a bit more than three weeks, and we stopped in four different cities. We left Helsinki by train and we got to Beijing with stops in Yekaterinburg, Krasnoyarsk, Irkutsk and a small village named Listvyanka. We slept in the train for the rest of the time and the train trip would take seven days in a row without ever stopping.
Andrea Schilirò: Usually the Trans-Siberian is between Moscow and Vladivostok, but we did it all the way from Helsinki to Beijing. It's not touristy, and we didn't meet another foreigner along the way.
Where did the memorable riding sessions go down?
MM: Every place was special in its own way. The most legit rail session was probably the first rail we did hit in Ekaterinburg: a beautiful kink rail on a smoking river, perfect light, perfect mood and sick tricks. It was maybe just a bit too cold.
AS: We hit so many different places, but [one of the best] was in a wood house with no roof in the middle of nowhere. It was somewhere out on the Baikal Lake a few hours away from Irkutsk -- which is already a place far from everything. The guys were [jibbing] and jumping from the windows.
How was your project received by the people along the way?
MM: People were surprisingly friendly and welcoming. Everybody we met did everything they could to help us with our project, we had just a few scary moments with people.
It looks like "Siberia Teaches" is a lot more than a standard snowboard film. Is that what you were going for?
MM: It was the best experience of my life, it really opened up my mind and I realize as a filmmaker what I really like to do. Filming snowboard movies is getting a bit boring [because] there are too many around and it feels impossible to do something really different. The documentary in Siberia was my way to do things with our own style. Traveling with the idea of making a documentary pushes you to make things happening, meeting people and knowing more about the places that you visit, not as a tourist but as a local.
Where can people in the U.S. check out your film? Any plans for a release over here?
MM: A Finnish distribution firm called Rabbit Films is taking care of selling the rights of the documentary all over the globe. We will know more about countries and releasing dates in the next months. If you want to know more about it we will keep you updated on www.facebook.com/siberiateaches. I hope some channel in the U.S. will get the documentary, I think you guys will laugh about our English but you guys will like the story and the cut of it.