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09.07.2021 00:00

Kyrgyz cinema: 80 

Kyrgyz cinema at 80: Milestones of a glorious path

 

On 17 November 1941 the resolution of the Council of People’s Commissars of the Kyrgyz Soviet Socialist Republic (SSR) set out the organization of a studio of newsreels in the republic’s capital. Therefore, the cinematographers of Kyrgyzstan mark 17 November as a professional holiday. This year, they will solemnly celebrate the 80th anniversary of Kyrgyz cinema.

 

 

Until 1917 there had been no film production in Kyrgyzstan. In the 1920s, cameramen from Moscow started to come to the republic to shoot topics about the life of the Kyrgyz people.

 

In 1927 Uzbek cinematographers filmed in Kyrgyzstan the first fiction film on Kyrgyz material: “The Covered Wagon” (dir. Oleg Frelikh).

 

One of the most important tasks of the cultural construction in the second half of the 1930s was the creation of Kyrgyz cinema, and at the time huge help came from Uzbek film figures, above all Malik Kayumov.

 

From the first half of the 1940s,the country started to release independently the fortnightly newsreel “Soviet Kyrgyzstan”, covering wartime events.

 

In 1955, the feature film “Saltanat” was released on Soviet screens, shot by staff from Mosfilm in Kyrgyzstan.

 

In the early 1960s, Kyrgyz documentary filmmakers expanded the subject of films, and sought continuously for new, clear means of expression; for example, they used a hidden camera or synchronously recorded sound, in order to understand and analyse their impact on the viewer.

 

In the first half of the decade, the director and film historian Sergei Yutkevich visited Kyrgyzstan from Moscow, and for a week he watched Kyrgyz movies. Later, during the discussion of the programme, he said: “It’s a Kyrgyz miracle!”

 

Of great importance for the aesthetic formation of Kyrgyz cinema was the creative work of Melis Ubukeev (“White Mountains”, 1964), Tolomush Okeev (“The Sky of Our Childhood”, 1966), Gennadi Bazarov (“Maternal Field”, 1967), Bolot Shamshiev (“A Shot on the Karash Pass”, 1967). They appeared on the set in the late 1950s and early 1960s, and tried themselves at studying at the film school VGIK in Moscow, when the aspiration for poetic expressiveness became the leading tendency in Soviet cinema. Thanks to their films, the cinema of Kyrgyzstan received international attention in the mid-1960s.

 

In the late 1950s and early 1960s many beginning directors came to Kyrgyzfilm from Moscow and other central cities of the USSR: Larisa Shepitko (her debut film “Heat”, 1963), Andrei Mikhalkov-Konchalovsky (his debut film “The First Teacher”, 1965), Leonid Gurevich (together with Bekesh Abdyldayev he made “The Most Obedient”, 1966), and Algimantas Vidugiris (who, together with Yakov Bronstein made the documentary masterpiece “Castles in the Sand”, 1968, and won numerous awards at international festivals. They made their debut films at Kyrgyzfilmand returned home.

 

But Algimantas Vidugiris remained. After graduating from VGIK in 1962, he came to the studio Kyrgyzfilm and invented himself, creating a multidimensional figurative world which has gratefully been recognized over the world.

 

The film “The Scarlet Poppies of Issyk Kul” (dir. B. Shamshiev, 1971) was shown in the official out-of-competition programmeat the Cannes film festival in 1972.

 

 

In 1985 Tolomush Okeev’sfilm “The Descendant of the White Leopard” (1984) was included in the main competition of the 35th IFF in West Berlin and received a Silver Bear. The film was made on the basis of the Kyrgyz national legend and tells of the life of a mighty tribe of hunters of white leopards. The ancient laws of white leopards forbade them to raise a hand against a person. But once the young leader Kozhozhash broke the ancestors’ rules.

 

The short period at the threshold of regimes (1988-1993) – the decline of the Soviet era and the emergence of fifteen independent states – has been reflected in Kyrgyz cinema in all the painful manifestations because cinematographers, as well as all other citizens, experienced the burdens and deprivations of this short interval, when the names of new directors were discovered. They were not new to the field, since they came to the cinema in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and had earned respect as gifted production designers and artists, cameramen, and actors. They dreamed of creating against all odds. They managed to capture transformations and metamorphoses in society. Almost at the same time,they tried their hand in direction: the production designer Aktan Abdykalykov (now Aktan Arym Kubat) and the director of animation, Marat Sarulu.

 

Abdykalykov made “Selkinchek” in 1993 at the company Maek-Film. This film has a principal value for the development of domestic cinema, because it sets a new milestone in its history. Shown at many prestigious international film forums, “Selkinchek” is the winner of the competition “Leopards of Tomorrow” at the IFF in Locarno in 1993.

 

The film immediately won a special position in Kyrgyz cinema, above all because of the exposure of the inner world of the Kyrgyz people. In the late sixties, Okeev, the creator of the unforgettable “The Sky of our Childhood”, showed the Kyrgyz people such as they knew themselves, but the rest of the world didn’t; “Selkinchek” exposed the inner state of the Kyrgyz people above all before the Kyrgyz people themselves, by frankly showing that they are simple, naive, unsophisticated on the one hand, and mobile, inquisitive, enquiringon the other.

 

In 1996 the writer Chingiz Aitmatov received the Honorary Award at the Berlin festival “Camera of Berlin”. The Panorama programme screened the adaptation of his novel “The Day Lasts more than a Hundred Days” under the title “Snowstorm Station” (dir. Bakyt Karagulov).

 

Aktan Abdykalykov’s “Beshkempir” received the Silver Leopard in Locarno in 1998; and his film “Maymyl” participated in Un Certain Regard in Cannes in 2001.

 

 

In 2002, the Panorama section of the Berlinale showed Marat Sarulu’s “My Brother, Silk Road”, while his short film “Fly-Up” participated in the Shorts Competition.

 

In 2005 Ernst Abdyzhaparov’s “Saratan. Village Authorities”, coproduced with Germany, screened at the Panorama section of the Berlinale.

 

In 2010, Aktan Arym Kubat’s film “The Light Thief”, made by the private studio Oy-Art as a coproduction with France, Germany, Netherlands was presented in Un Certain Regard at Cannes.

 

In 2014, IFF Montreal presented the world premiere of the historical epic drama by Sadyk Sher-Niyaz, “KurmandjanDatka”; itwas the most popular film of the year in Kyrgyzstan, and received unheard-of attention from the Russian- and Kyrgyz-speaking audience.

 

In 2014, Marat Sarulu made the film “The Move” and received the Best direction and NETPAC awards at the IFF Black Nights in Tallinn.

 

In 2015 Mirlan Abdykalykov made his debut film “Heavenly Nomadic” which was shown at the any IFF and won many awards.

 

In 2015 Dalmira Tilepbergenova made her debut film “Under The Sky” which was shown at the many IFF and won awards.

 

The team of Bakyt Mukul and Dastan Zhapar Uulu made a film in 2016 with the title “Father’s Will”, which had its world premiere in Montreal in 2016. The film received the main award, Golden Zenith, in the section of debut films.

 

In 2017 Aktan Arym Kubat’s new film “Centaur” was shown in the Panorama section of the Berlinale and won the prize of the International Confederation of Art Cinemas (CICAE).

 

In 2017 Temir Birnazarov made the film “Night Accident” and received the Grand Prix at the IFF Black Nights in Tallinn.

 

In 2018 Aybek Dayirbekov made his first film “The Song Of The Tree” and Bekzat Pirmatov made also his first film “Aurora” by Bekzat Pirmatov which were shown at the many IFF.

 

In 2019 Mirlan Abdykalykov made his second film “Running To The Sky” which were shown in many IFF and won many awards.

 

In 2020 Artykpai Suyundukov made a film Shambala, Emil Atageldiev made his debut film “The Lake” and Bakyt Mukul & Dastan Japar made theirs’ second film “The Road To Eden” which were shown at the many IFF and won many awards.

 

G.Tolomushova, translated by B.Beumers

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