Olesya Bondareva graduated from television journalism faculty of Moscow State University.
In the early 1990's she worked for several years in the First Channel (Ostankino) as commentator. She also made cultural reports and covered the wars in Chechnya and Armenia (Karabakh) as a special reporter. At the same she made two independent films, one about the Armenian genocide and another about Russian elections.
In 1993 The Open Society Institute gave her a prize for her “innovative approach to journalism”.
From 1995 onwards she worked seven years as director of a highly popular television “Point of View” (Vzgliad). During this time she made approximately 150 documentary stories, portraits and short films. One of these documentaries, “Gisele”, was awarded a second price at the Montenegro Documentary Film Festival.
In 1999 with Marianna Yarovskaya she co-produced the film "Undesirables" which received the Student Academy Award in 2001 and a College Emmy Award in the year 2000.
In 2001-2006, with Marianna Yarovskaya she co-directed and co-produced a documentary film "Holy Warriors" which was screened in 17 countries and received the Best Documentary award at the European Independent Film Festival in Paris (2007), the Critics Price at the 54th Belgrade Festival of Documentary and Short Film (2007), the Audience Choice award at DocumentArt Festival in Poland, among others.
In 2002 she made a documentary entitled “Generation” which was nominated in 2003 for TEFI price, the “Russian Emmy”.
In 2004, together with the Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology of the Russian Academy of Sciences she created a documentary film studio, of which she is currently the Director. With a grant from the Federal Committee on Culture and Cinematography (Russia) she directed “The man invented the stars” which was screened at numerous festivals in Russia.
During 2007 - 2008 she worked as chief editor of the magazine “Digital Photo” (circulation 100 000).
In 2008 she produced and directed feature documentary “Canceled Love”.
Currently she works on an independent long-term project about spiritual teachers in different cultures. In this context she has made several expeditions to India, Altai, Kyrgystan and Kazakhstan. Her personal website is www.bota.asia.
Mauri Pasanen studied languages, literature and film theory at universities in Turku (Finland) and Universite de Paris IV (France). He holds a Master of Arts degree.
His first film “Traces” (Finland, 2006) was a short documentary about a young Russian woman's quest to re-establish a family connection broken two generations earlier by the Holocaust. “Traces” was part of the official selection of more than twenty independent film festivals in a dozen different countries, including Rhode Island Film Festival (USA); Rozstaje Europy (Poland) and Washington DC Independent Film Festival (USA). “Traces” was awarded “Best In Festival” price at Swansea Bay Film Festival (UK, 2007) and a 2nd place at Cleveland Indie Gathering (USA, 2007). Apart from the festival circuit it has also been screened by numerous genealogical associations in Israel, Canada and the UK. The film's website: www.traces.tv.
In 2008 Mauri joined Olesya Bondareva who was in Kazakhstan researching shamans, healers and Sufi masters of Central Asia. This research and the material recorded during the Kazakhstan expedition forms the basis of both their “Kazakhdervish“ documentary feature project and the exhibition “The Last Dervish of Kazakhstan”.