Russia’s Alina Zagitova, the gold medalist in women’s figure skating at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, visited Odate City on May 23rd of this year. Miss Zagitova garnered a lot of attention when the Akita Dog Preservation Society presented her with a female dog after the Olympics in May 2018. She made two-stage greetings at advance screenings for local citizens of the Japan-Russia co-produced movie Palma in which she makes a special cameo appearance. Miss Zagitova delivered a message from her Akita dog Masaru, saying, “Masaru asked me to send her regards to everyone.” After the screening, she visited the city’s museum facility Akita Inu no Sato.
Miss Zagitova took the stage at the morning screening held in Hokushika Rokumei Hall and greeted around 500 Odate residents in Japanese. Her greeting, “Hello everyone! I am Alina Zagitova. How are you?” received a big round of applause. Later, she gave her thoughts on the movie, saying, “Love and friendship enable us to do many things,” and recommended the film to everyone.
Miss Zagitova expressed that she felt “one of the most important things” during her trip to Odate City was to share Masaru’s message with everyone. Referring to her strong bond with Masaru, she said, “When I’m away from home for a long time, I always ask my family to send me pictures of Masaru, which makes me miss her even more.”
After the first screening, Miss Zagitova met Masaru’s sibling Shodai at Akita Inu No Sato. In the afternoon, she gave another greeting at the day’s second film screening.
Miss Zagitova’s trip to Japan, including her visit to Odate City, was planned by the movie’s production committee prior to the film’s nationwide release on March 28th of this year. During her stay in Japan, she will also be filming herself figure skating. Thorough countermeasures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, such as limiting contact between the group and others, are being taken per the necessary quarantine measures stipulated by Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare.
Palma is based on a true story from the former Soviet Union about a dog named Palma, considered the Russian equivalent of the loyal dog Hachiko. Some scenes were shot on location in Odate City. The film depicts the bond between Palma, a shepherd dog left behind at a Moscow airport, and Kolja, a lonely teenage boy. The movie was released in Russia in March of this year, earning great popularity. It was shown in April at the Moscow International Film Festival, one of the four most prominent film festivals globally.