07/15/2011, 00.00
Send to a friend

Booming Kazakh cinema in the service of state power

History, love and nature’s beauty help promote patriotism at home and a positive image for the country abroad. Astana shows its soft power.
Astana (AsiaNews) – Kazakhstan’s movie industry has made a comeback, riding a wave of movies centred on heroic patriotism, historical epics and love stories, all against a background of breathless natural settings. The authorities of the former Soviet Republic have discovered the power of the silver screen to reinforce national unity and promote a positive image of the country abroad.

Myn Bala (‘One thousand children’ in English) is the latest big movie, which is in the final stages of shooting in Tian Shan mountains. Directed by Akhan Satayev, the movie is being produced by Kazakhfilm, a state-owned film studio, with a US$ 7 million budget—crums compared to Hollywood productions, but a lot compared to most Kazakh productions.

The film tells the story of hero Sartay, who led an army of teenagers to victory in battle in 1729 against the marauding Mongolian Dzungars. As to prove that the movie is more than entertainment, its release date has been set for 16 December 2011, the 20th anniversary of the country’s independence.

“Kazakh cinema has found its place in the sun,” Kazakhfilm President Yermek Amanshayev said recently. In fact, the last decade has seen a steady rise in the number of Kazakh movies made, going from only one in 2001 to 22 planned for 2011—an all-time high since the early 1990s, when Kazakh cinema was emerging from a brief flourishing in the late Soviet era with a genre dubbed Kazakh New Wave.

Soviet movies about that period “were done from the point of view of Soviet propaganda,” Kazakh director Rustem Abdrashov said. Recent moives are “an attempt to reassess, to tell a truth that wasn’t actually often talked about at the time.”

A new, patriotic message is aimed especially at young people, “so they know the price our ancestors paid for our freedom, for our independence, and so they appreciate it,” Satayev told eurasia.net.

The renaissance of Kazakh cinema is part of a broader public relations campaign by the Kazakh authorities designed to clean up its international image, tarnished, in their view, by the 2006 spoof Borat, which depicted the Central Asian country as backward and corrupt.

Kazakh filmmakers denied that they are willing propaganda tools for the Nazarbayev regime, claiming instead that all they are doing is art. Still, even Satayev acknowledges, “We want foreign audiences to know about our country from a positive point of view.” (N.A.)
Send to a friend
Printable version
See also
Malaysian movie lands in Venice
Hollywood and Bollywood together to globalize cinema
China's film industry has great potential, Italian film star Pasotti says
Fr Anil Philip, priest and director, releases his latest film
03/06/2020 16:51
China’s box office tops the US’s
25/05/2018 15:19


Subscribe to Asia News updates or change your preferences

Subscribe now
“L’Asia: ecco il nostro comune compito per il terzo millennio!” - Giovanni Paolo II, da “Alzatevi, andiamo”