Following the unique adventure of Fred Horny as he travels through Kyrgyzstan, his award-winning adventure film, Kanymda Kumis, explores un-spoilt scenery, wilderness and unparalleled human experiences. A passionate cyclist, forever on the lookout for new ridges to ride, Fred Horny’s Kanymda Kunis is a must see.
What was the genesis of this film, which combines exploration, discovery, and an immersion into the heart of Kyrgyz culture?
Fred Horny : Initially, we were going to go to Greenland. But the health situation at the time closed the doors on this country just before we left! At the same time, Jérémie [Jérémie Reuiller, the film's director] and I still had the idea of crossing Asia and climbing to the Lenin Peak at 7134m. More than just reaching this mountain, it's the whole experience that mattered to us: setting off from the capital Bishkek in the north for a 1700km ride through a multitude of wonderful landscapes. From the steppes to the world's largest glaciers, often at altitudes of 3,000 or 4,000m, cycling was the pretext for this extraordinary adventure.
Why did you choose Kyrgyzstan for this project?
I had already been to Kyrgyzstan for a photo report a few years ago. At the time, I really enjoyed the untouched territories and the incredible tracks created by horses and the transhumance of cattle: thanks to them, all the steppes and mountains have many clean trails to ride. It made me want to come back. For this film, crossing the country from the north to Lenin Peak on the border with Tajikistan, there was no doubt that the route would offer exceptional landscapes and trails. For me, it's one of the most beautiful places in the world for mountain biking... I still haven't found anything better!
What does "Kanymda Kumis" mean?
Kumis in the veins! The story behind the name comes from a previous project I did with Jérémie: "Ambrochella", which means blueberry in Savoyard dialect. But in that project, no blueberries appeared on screen! We transposed this idea to this film. Kumis means "fermented mare's milk" and "Kanymda" means "vein". Literally translated, "Kumis runs in the veins". And although we never see this Kyrgyz national drink on screen, it's the line that guides the audience through the film as we meet the nomads, their rites and this tradition that reflects the country's strong character.
You were a team of 3 people there (Jérémie, the film-maker, Luc, the video-maker, Fred, the explorer). How do you plan an expedition of this type?
This type of project requires real upstream management and fine-tuned organisation, particularly in terms of equipment and logistics. It's not the same thing to shoot a day's worth of footage as it is to produce a long format on the other side of the world, in often remote regions. The adventure therefore required a good planning, particularly in terms of drop-off points: stages, transitions and so on. On site, we were supported by Stéphane, a guy from Savoie I had met by chance on my previous trip to Kyrgyzstan who lives less than 5 kilometers from me in France... He was our relay over there, especially for the rental of a truck for technical assistance.
Adventures are often full of anecdotes. We want to hear one!
When we arrived in Bishkek, the first big surprise of the trip: my bike frame was broken! During my explorations, I usually take very little spare equipment to avoid clutter. In this case, on Stéphane's advice a few days before departure, we decided to take a second Lapierre Zesty so that Jérémie could move around more easily during the shoot. Luckily, I was able to pick up his frame and set off on the adventure in the best possible conditions. He had to ride an old bike from 2003, with gears jumping all the time... A real challenge for him!