Director: Dmitri Mamulia
Writers: Leonid Sitov, Dmitri Mamulia
Stars: Khabib Bufares, Amirza Mukhamadi,Mitra Zeykhedi
2 wins & 2 nominations
When Ali’s herd begins dying off, it is time to leave the steppe to seek out the wife who left him and their infant son nine years earlier. With nothing but several old photographs, her former address, and a memory of generic physical details (“black hair, black eyes”), Ali and his son arrive in Moscow where they become migrant wage laborers: Ali in a cement plant; his nine-year old son in a saw mill.
While director Dmitrii Mamuliia has noted in interviews that the film contrasts the two worlds of the protagonist—the sandy, bush-dotted landscape of the steppe with the busy expanse of the bustling metropolis—the cinematography uses visual and aural mirroring to link the two locales. In Moscow, Ali carries bags of cement, one after the other, as he and his son carried sheep carcasses at home. The next body Ali will carry is that of his sleeping son: the accident that this episode foreshadows and mirrors is unexplained, just as Ali’s herd is inexplicably stricken by death in the opening scenes of the film. The sounds of the herd and the nearby highway that punctuate these first scenes are similarly replaced, in Moscow, by the background noise of train terminals, factories, and news broadcasts. Yet, as location and language change, Ali remains silent, responding to his reunion with his wife with the same dejected expression as when he discovers his ailing herd.
Mamuliia was recently included among a list of “Russian New Wave” directors published by OpenSpace.ru, along with Aleksei German Jr., Boris Khlebnikov, Kirill Serebrennikov, Aleksei Popogrebskii, and others. Many of the standard characteristics of Soviet and post-Soviet New Waves are present in Another Sky: a privileging of silence and mood over mainstream cinematic devices (e.g. genre cinema); dialogue in national languages instead of in Russian; and the use of natural sets and non-professional actors. Mamuliia’s use of minimal dialogue and Tajik subtitled in Russian only reinforce Ali’s liminal status at home and abroad. Not only is he at a linguistic disadvantage while in Moscow (he does not understand Russian, needing an interpreter even to describe his wife’s features to the authorities), but he is alienated at home as well. The vices of contemporanaeity have come to the Uzbek countryside as a stack of hundred dollar bills, an amount almost equal to the “price” placed on his son in the Moscow saw mill.
Furthermore, in Another Sky natural sets are combined through editing to capture the daily routine and habitat of the Moscow migrant worker: a labyrinth of crowded barracks, crumbling entrance ways, and sanitation showers. It is thereby fitting that one of the film’s few geographically grounded scenes occurs in Moscow’s Kazan' train station. This extended segment unifies the two geographically discrete portions of the narrative in the same way the station itself serves as the hub for migrants, vagrants, and long-distance travelers arriving in and departing from the center. ...