Kazakhstan

Rashid Nugmanov – Igla AKA The Needle (1988)

Synopsis:
Moro returns to Alma Ata to collect money owed to him. While waiting out an unexpected delay, he visits his former girlfriend Dina, and discovers she has become a morphine addict. He decides to help her kick the habit and to fight the local drug maphia responsible for her condition. But Moro finds a deadly opponent in “the doctor,” the maphia kingpin who is exploiting Dina Read More »

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 »

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 »

Adilkhan Yerzhanov – Chuma v aule Karatas AKA The Plague at the Karatas Village (2016)

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Quote:
Yerzhanov is a strong voice of the new Kazakh cinema.

The story
When a young mayor arrives in Karatas, a remote village in Kazakhstan, he finds a large part of the population ill. He recognises the symptoms immediately as plague-related. The sufferers, however, insist they have the flu, and that is confirmed by the local authorities, who have for decades pocketed the money for vaccination programmes and let the deadly illness rage on. The newly-appointed mayor resists at first, but is slowly dragged down into a morass of corruption and abuse of power. Like the film The Owners shown at Cannes, Adilkhan Yerzhanov’s latest film is an indictment of the lawless practices in today’s Kazakhstan, which is understandably known as the ‘Wild East’. His approach is very theatrical. He presents his message in a Brechtian way. The sets are surrealist, the acting is alienating, the undertone mythical. The moral, however, is highly contemporary and crucial. Winner NETPAC Award 2016. Read More »