Two Epochs of Central Asian Cinema: A Collection
By Andrea Csanadi
A DVD collection of Central Asian cinema is available free of charge to organizations interested in cinema and Central Asia and also committed to inform and educate the public along these lines.
The collection is made up of two sets of films: feature and documentary. Both sets contain 10 films that are emblematic of each Central Asian Republic. In each set there are five films made during the Soviet times, and five films made since their independence.
The countries represented in the collection are Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. The collection was compiled by Central Asian Cinema Expert, Gulnara Abikeyeva.
Amongst the films included in the collection are:
Aksuat: From Kazakhstan and released in 1998, this film is a crucial contribution in Kazakh cinema of the independent era. Born in Kazakhstan, the director Serik Aprymov was one of the first during Perestroika to criticize the way of life in Kazakhstan in his film The Final Stop (1989) but in Aksuat the director returns to take a look at the country’s traditional values.
Beshkempir: On this film from Kyrgyzstan, Vida Johnson, an expert on Russian film at Tufts University, commented, “In Beshkempir, Kyrgyz Aktan Abdykalykov managed not only to erase all sign of Soviet presence (no trucks, uniforms, broken cars) but thanks to the use of language and national traditions he created timeless but faultless Kyrgyz space. The film proved successful because the director tells us about positive, common experience in a low-key, visually beautiful style.” (Territory of Cinema, 2001)
Orator: From Uzbekistan, this film conveys the history of the establishment of Soviet power there. The plot is based on the stories about the so-called Hudjum movement that persecuted Uzbek women who staunchly refused to renounce the wearing of traditional veils. The director revolves his story around a poor arbakesh with three wives who acquires a fourth. The story unfolds around his quest to protect his wives from the new power and equally reflects on what happens when one political paradigm comes to replace another and the fate of those who adapt, and those who do not.
Kosh ba Kosh: Directed by Bakhtyar Khudojnazarov this 1993 release from Tajikistan won a Silver Lion at the Venice Film Festival. “Odds and Evens” is the literal translation of the title of this film, which revolves around how much control people have over the circumstances they are dealt and the “luck of the draw” in their lives. The film opens with a group of men fervently gambling, oblivious to gunshots and a corpse floating by in a muddy river in the background. The plot begins when one of the men loses his daughter Mira in the dice game.
Open Society Foundations requests no admission fee be applied for viewing these films and if possible a platform for discussion relating to the films also be provided.
Due to limited availability, please contact us with a brief description of your organization and your proposed use of the DVD sets. Film associations, festivals, archives, cultural centers, libraries, universities are all encouraged to apply. Please note that the collection will not be distributed to individuals for personal use.
Each film is subtitled in both Russian and English. For more information regarding the feature film set, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Andrea Csanadi is formerly the director of the Open Society Arts and Culture Program.