Kazakhstan

Ardak Amirkulov – Gibel Otrara AKA The Fall of Otrar [171 min version] (1991)

Ardak Amirkulov’s 1990 historical epic about the intrigue and turmoil preceding Genghis Khan’s systematic destruction of the lost east Asian civilization of Otrar is unlike anything you’ve ever seen. The movie that spurred the extraordinary wave of great Kazakh films in the 90s, Amirkulov’s movie is at once hallucinatory, visually resplendent and ferociously energetic, packed with eye-catching (and gouging) detail and B-movie fervor, and traversing an endless variety of parched, epic landscapes and ornate palaces. Read More »

Rustem Abdrashev – Podarok Stalinu AKA The Gift to Stalin (2008)

A Jewish child deported to Kazakhstan is saved and adopted by Kasym, an old Kazakh railway-man. Kasym gives him a Kazakh name, Sabyr, that in Kazakh language means humble. The child grows up in the small Kazakh village along with other deportees Vera, a traitor’s wife, and Ezhik a Polish doctor. The Soviet militia harasses the poor peasants and Vera suffered the harassment of a bully cop: Bulgabi. Finally Vera accepts the marriage proposal of Ezhik but the jealous Bulgabi tries to prevent the marriage. The result is a fight in which Ezhik shoots himself accidentally. The old Kasym decides that Sabyr is now old enough to go to seek his real parents. At the end Sabyr, now an adult, decides to return to the village, but the village no longer exists because it was destroyed by a Soviet nuclear test. Read More »

Darezhan Omirbayev – Shilde AKA July (1988)

Review: Darezhan Omirbaev’s penchant for spare, elliptical narrative, muted figures, and disembodied framing (most notably, of hands and feet) have often been (favorably) compared to the rigorous aesthetic of Robert Bresson. However, in imposing such a somber – and inescapably cerebral – analogy, there is also a propensity to overlook the wry, self-effacing humor and irony of situation that pervade his films: a lyricism that equally captures the human comedy in all its contradictions and nobility from the margins of Soviet society. This sense of the quotidian as a continuum of human experience, elegantly rendered in Omirbaev’s recent film, The Road through Amir’s recurring daydream of a mother milking a cow and her intrusive child (who, in turn, looks remarkably like Amir’s own son) in rural Kazakhstan (an image that subsequently proves to be a catalytic historical memory from his childhood when man landed on the moon), can also be seen from the outset of Omirbaev’s cinema through his incorporation of a decidedly Buñuelian sequence in the short film, July of a young boy who, while on the lookout for guards near the foothills of a kolkhoz commissary, curiously finds himself wandering into a recital hall where the performance of a young pianist is punctuated by the appearance of a horseman on the stage. Read More »

Tolomush Okeyev – Lyutyy AKA The Ferocious One (1974)

Quote:
This visually stunning Kazakh movie tells a tragic tale of absent and misplaced compassion. A young orphan rescues an orphaned wolf cub and lavishes considerable affection on it. His uncle, believing that this “softness” will result in the boy’s being unable to endure the rigors of life on the Kazakh steppes, savagely beats the cub in front of the boy. By the time the grown wolf is released into the wild, it has grown extremely ferocious and it returns and attacks the boy, perhaps because it perceives him as being weak, just as the boy’s uncle did. ~ Clarke Fountain, Rovi Read More »

Sergei Dvortsevoy – Ayka (2018)

A poor woman without a job struggles to raise her child.

Ayka is a 2018 drama film directed by Sergey Dvortsevoy. It was selected to compete for the Palme d’Or at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival. At Cannes, Samal Yeslyamova won the award for Best Actress. It was selected as the Kazakhstani entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 91st Academy Awards, making the December shortlist. Read More »

Emir Baigazin – Uroki garmonii AKA Harmony Lessons (2013)

Lonely Kazakh teenager Aslan is bullied at his new school. He prepares himself for a bloody revenge on the school bully Bolat. Read More »

Abdulla Karsakbayev – Menya zovut kozha aka My Name is Kozha (1964)

Koja is really a little brat nobody can tame. His mother, neighbours and even his head teacher don’t know how to deal with such a boy any more. The head teacher tells him that, unfortunately, he is not like his father who died at war. Koja makes promises, but he forgets them as soon as he leaves the head teacher’s office … “Working on a film with children should be like a game so that the shooting does not weight heavily on them. All children are by nature actors and story tellers. They simply express this penchant in more or less obvious ways. ” Abdulla Karsakbaiev
Source Festival de Vesoul, 2012 Read More »