Myself and that guy

The profession of a stunt performer requires many skills, including endurance and strong health, as evinced by actor-stuntman Sergey Katorzhenko
According to official guidance, dangerous stunts should only be performed once a day, since they bring psychological and physical strain. Sergey gives two takes, to ensure a good scene. He performed his jump from a height of 72 metres twice, entering the Guinness Book of World Records, despite windy conditions. He even jumped carrying burning torches, and proved that he kept his eyes open by throwing them at a certain moment.

Stuntwork is profession of the brave

Of course, he knows fear, but he is a master. He avoids all unnecessary risk, taking into account every small detail. He even plans his diet several days ahead, since jumping in this manner can distort the organs. 

He tells us, “Prior to my record jump, I asked that we drop a faux leather sand-stuffed dummy. It tore in the air, spilling the sand onto the ground, so you can imagine the strain on the human body. For several days before a stunt, I don’t eat anything; I just drink water. I adjust my diet to suit my programme. It even helps you stay alive through fire or water. For instance, if I have to spend a lot of time in the cold, or I need to enter an ice-hole, I eat high-calorie, fatty food, that takes longer to digest.

Not long ago, Katorzhenko finished shooting a 16-episode series, called Adaptation, in Murmansk. His special diet was vital, to allow him to ride a horse, jump, run, fall and fight, he needs a sporting diet, including proteins and vegetable. He tells us, “I think that, for my lifestyle and occupation, it’s quite a healthy diet. However, it doesn’t mean that I can’t eat some grilled chicken with my friends in the evening.”

A stunt co-ordinator needs to be knowledgeable in various fields: chemistry, physics and psychology, both human and animal. He explains, “As a schoolboy, I went in for horseback riding and triathlon. While shooting Anastasia Slutskaya film, I saw the director prepare a military smoke barrel and warned him that the stallion wouldn’t like the smell, and would bolt. Anastasia (played by Svetlana Zelenkovskaya) was supposed to sit on the horse and give her monologue: an address to the warriors. However, they decided to try and activated the smoke barrels and the horse started roaring and hopping! The actress, wearing a cuirass and chain armour on her head, almost fell out of the saddle. I came over, calmed down the horse, and held on to it tightly until the end of the shoot.”

Professional stuntmen are so knowledgeable that they deserve a scientific degree. Katorzhenko holds a diploma from the All-Russian State Institute for Cinematography and is the only Belarusian stuntman to have the honour (for being able to arrange and direct stunts). Credentials don’t matter to a good director, though. Sergey Katorzhenko is widely known for his skills and talents and has worked with many celebrities. 

He tells us, “Previously, Belarusfilm would invite stunt performers from the Baltic States. Even Ptashuk started working with Latvians before inviting me. American director Menahem Golan shot films here. I arranged stunts for his films and acted in them. With Timur Bekmambetov, we were shooting The Gladiator. I long ago stopped counting the films in which I participated. What’s important to me now is the process. I also teach young performers.”

Katorzhenko is a founder of the Belarusian stunt performance school and was the first Belarusian trickster to gather a group of rally professionals, karate fighters and wrestlers. He opened a real educational institution for stunt performers in Gomel: the Vremya sporting and technical club. This was a unique organisation where each member could pass along their own skills. This is how Sergey Katorzhenko became a universal stuntman, performing horse, motorcycle and motor-car stunts. He even made tricks with cabriolets several times, being the first among his CIS colleagues to do so, and, of course, he performs combat stunts.

After Sergey gained experience, a reputation and some money, he created a stunt performer base in Minsk. There, he has a garage with vehicles and professional equipment, a site to rehearse various stunts and a house with a garden. He notes, “You’re asking if I lead a healthy life. I’m on my feet all day long. In winter, I go to the gym. In spring and autumn, I mow the grass almost every morning. Isn’t that healthy?”

By Yelena Davydova

Unusual sports

By Anton Kostukevich

National Library stages finals of competitive programming championship, Yandex Algorithm

The strongest programmers came to Minsk for the first time, not only to compete for financial prizes and for the chance of career offers from international IT-companies, but to protect the honoUr of their countries. More than 4,500 applications were received from 70 countries, including 230 from Belarus, but only the top 25 participants advanced to the finals, where they solved six tasks.

At the end of the day, Russian Yegor Kulikov, a former employee of Yandex, took first prize. He has won several similar tournaments, such as the prestigious TopCoder Open. Our country was represented in the final by Gennady Korotkevich, who was born in Gomel, and is now a student of the prestigious St. Petersburg National Research University of Information Technologies, Mechanics and Optics. Gennady is a well-known figure in competitive programming. Three years in a row, in 2013, 2014 and 2015, he won Algorithm — but this time he took sixth place.
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