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LONDON, 28 October 2019 – One of London’s most iconic cinemas – Vue West End on Leicester Square – hosted the opening of the Kazakhstan Film Week. The event was hosted as part of the Rukhani Zhagyru and Seven Faces of the Great Steppe programmes by the Embassy of Kazakhstan in the UK with the assistance of the Ministry of Culture and Sport of the Republic of Kazakhstan and the Shaken Aimanov Kazakhfilm studio. The event is sponsored by Air Astana.
The Film Week was launched with the screening of Returnee, a film directed by Sabit Kurmanbekov that tells a story of a Kazakh family returning to their historical homeland from Afghanistan. The film was presented to the audience by the famous film playwright and Returnee’s screenwriter Nurlan Sanzhar. The film won many international awards, including the Special Achievement Award at the 66th Mannheim-Heidelberg International Film Festival (Germany), Special mention of the SIGNIS independent jury (Award of the World Catholic Association for Communication) of the XX Religion Today Film Festival (Italy).
Speaking at the opening of the film festival, the Ambassador of Kazakhstan to the United Kingdom Erlan Idrissov noted that the programme of the Film Week will open the richness and diversity of the Kazakh cinema to the foreign audiences. The films will provide the viewer with the opportunity to immerse themselves in Kazakh history, culture and traditions.
After the screening of the film, a general discussion took place with screenwriter Mr. Sanzhar and the Associate Professor in Politics at the University of Lincoln Dr. Rico Isaacs, who authored the book “Film and Identity in Kazakhstan: Soviet and Post-Soviet Culture in Central Asia”, in which he uses cinema as an analytical prism to study Kazakh national identity.
During the discussion, the viewers received first-hand answers to questions that arose during watching the film and shared their impressions.
“I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first came to the cinema, but I’m walking away with a very positive message. I think the film gives a very positive message about Central Asia and the brotherhood of the people there. And I also think that the whole movie was superbly produced, the script was very good. I’m very pleased and coming back to see some more films during the week and bring in some friends as well,” said one of the guests.
Most of the films screened during the Film Week were selected by Kazakhstan as its entries for the Academy Award in the Best Foreign Language Film category. In addition to Returnee, the following films will also be screened in London:
- 29 October – The Road To Mother, a historical drama directed by Akan Satayev. The film will be presented by the Honoured Worker of Kazakhstan, the actor in a leading role Adil Akhmetov. The discussion will be led by the Senior Lecturer at the University College London Dr. Seth Graham.
- 30 October – Amanat directed by Satybaldy Narymbetov. The historical film will be presented by the Honoured Worker of Kazakhstan, the actor in a leading role Berik Aitzhanov. The conversation will be led by the Anniversary Professor of Film and Media History at Birkbeck University Ian Christie FBA.
- 31 October – feature film Shal (The Old Man) directed by Ermek Tursunov. The film will be presented by the Honoured Worker of Kazakhstan, producer Kanat Torebay, along with the Professor at Queen Mary University of London Jeremy Hicks.
- 1 November – the Film Week will conclude with the screening of Ayka. At the closing ceremony, the film will be presented by director Sergey Dvortsevoy along with actress Samal Yeslyamova, who received the Best Actress Award at the Cannes Film Festival for her role in this film. After the screening, the filmmakers will discuss it with Birgit Beumers, Emeritus Professor in Film Studies at Aberystwyth University.