In 2014, the United Nations imposed sanctions on Russia for its invasion and annexation of Crimea. As a result, Russia imposed counter-sanctions, one of which included the ban of imported Western-made cheeses. Filmmaker (and cheesemaker) Oleg Sirota saw this as an opportunity to start his own Russia-based dairy operation.
Sirota stars in an eight-minute long documentary titled War & Cheese, where he gives a tour of Russian Parmesan — his factory’s name — including workers’ living quarters, the cheese shop and a wheel he’s personally dedicated to Vladimir Putin. In the film, Sirota expresses his fears that the sanctions will be lifted and his dreams of making Russian versions of Western cheeses will be squashed.
While the factory’s called Russian Parmesan, Sirota and his team are only making Limburger and Bergkäse cheeses. Parmesan is the goal of the operation, but Sirota points out that he’s had trouble finding the right kind of milk.
Check out the documentary below.
War and Cheese from Ben Garfield on Vimeo.