Saturday, 28 April 2012

Sergey Bodrov, Ivan Passer: Nomad (The Warrior) - Кочевник (2006)

Directors: Sergey Bodrov, Ivan Passer
Writer: Rustam Ibragimbekov
Stars: Kuno Becker, Jason Scott Lee and Jay Hernandez

Never before have Kazakh people waited so long for the arrival of a national film. The press and television reported on the progress of this mega-project during the two years that it was being made. At last, Nomad has been finished. For the first time a Kazakh film has such powerful Western distributors as Wild Bunch for Europe and Miramax for America. These companies are preparing for the film’s broad release worldwide. What else could we wish for? After the film’s premiere in Kazakhstan in July a negative, rather than positive, opinion was formed, although the majority of spectators have still not seen it yet. Why is Nomad being criticized? Has this project been successful?

For 14 years we have lived in an independent Kazakhstan as it was creating its statehood. Nobody will contest that this has been a historically important period in terms of nation-building. We have not only raised our economy and built an effective management structure, but we have also been creating the image of this new country. What is the contribution of Kazakh cinema in this context? Which domestic films have influenced the formation of our national consciousness? Many such films have been made and I would classify them according to three categories:

- films that designate the transition from the Soviet era to independence: basically the early - - films of the Kazakh “New Wave” by Serik Aprymov, Rashid Nugmanov, Amir Karakulov, Abai Karpykov, and Darejan Omirbaev;
- historical films that have opened dramatic markers of our history, such as films by Ardak Amirkulov, Damir Manabaev, Bolat Sharip, and Satybaldy Narymbetov;
- films about our present day that reflect the reality of our daily life. As a rule, these films offer a critical view on reality: Shanghai (1996) by Alexander Baranov, Killer (1998) by Darejan Omirbaev, Zhylama (Don’t Cry, 2002) by Amir Karakulov, or Shizo (2004) by Gul'shad Omarova, and others.

It is hard to overestimate the significance of all these films: they not only reflect our views on life today, but they also fill in important cultural codes about what has happened to us and what the present and future hold in store.

Moreover, during these years several films have been made that carried out the task of nation building to the full. For example, when Bolat Sharip’s Zamanai (1998) appeared, it had all the prospects of becoming a genuine national film because it told the story of the Kazakh people’s return to their homeland. But probably it appeared at an unsuitable moment, in 1998, when there was no operative system for film distribution. The film was lost and has not been seen by audiences. The same thing happened with such films as Serik Aprymov’s Aksuat (1999), Slambek Taukelov’s Batyr Bayan (1993), Satybaldy Narymbetov’s Leila’s Prayer (Molitva Leily, 2002), and many others. As a result, spectators formed a false belief that Kazakh cinema was exclusively aimed at festivals, even though it was the lack of access to a domestic film distribution network that deprived national audiences of our national cinema. ...

Reviewed by Gulnara Abikeyeva© 2006 in KinoKultura

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