Kazan Festival presents out-of- competition program “Russia - Islamic World”

13 September


Every year at the Kazan International Muslim Film Festival, one of the out-of-competition program includes films in the Russia – Islamic World nomination. This time 10 films were presented in this program. Each of them tells the viewer about peculiarities of a particular region, introduces cultures and customs, touches upon acute problems facing the entire world community and awakens the best moral qualities in us.

 

Kazan Festival presents out-of- competition program “Russia - Islamic World”

 

For instance, Uzbek director Yolkin Tuychiev depicts in his work ‘2000 Songs of Farida’ the events that took place at the beginning of the XX century. There is a civil war in Central Asia, the Emirate and Khanates are about to collapse. Civilians live in fear of their uncertain future and the impending power of the Bolsheviks. A cloud of dust of the bygone era and upcoming changes wafts across Trasokiana. But this does not seem to bother Komil, since he – an old renegade of society – lives on the edge of everything: his time, worldly concerns, society, values of the rich and the poor. His will is different; his desire lies elsewhere. He pursues nothing but his only hope – to have his continuation, his descendant and next generation, his unborn child. But time is the executioner. It is ruthless, giving no time to undo the past. So can old Komil overcome this limit? Will he be able to survive on the brink of a brutal new time?

 

Kazan Festival presents out-of- competition program “Russia - Islamic World”

 

The old man’s young wife, who has been proposed to him as a wife by her father because of out-of-class love (the girl of a palace retinue has dared to fall in love with a simple clerk), is not only notable for wearing rich outfits and living in a separate room. Farida has snow-white skin and meek disposition. She tries not to argue with other wives of her husband, who is particularly cruel and unscrupulous.


However, when Komil’s favourite wife Rabia runs away from him, unable to cope with her jealousy, the old man’s world view changes. He releases Farida with her betrothed and sends a young wagtail with them. In addition to the carriage, the orphaned man gives his life savings so that the travelers will not starve to death on their way.

 

Kazan Festival presents out-of- competition program “Russia - Islamic World”

 

Alone, he meets new power, accepting death at the hands of his beloved Rabia…

 

Kazan Festival presents out-of- competition program “Russia - Islamic World”

 

‘Song of the Mountains’ by Indonesian director Yusuf Rajamud tells us the story of six-year old cowardly Gimba, who lives with his sick mother in the remote place called Pipikoro, located in a mountain range, in a village that is quite difficult to reach. Every sick person has to be escorted to the valley so that they can reach the hospital.

 

Kazan Festival presents out-of- competition program “Russia - Islamic World”

 

His mother has weakened in recent month. But Gimba only wants to be near his mother. Beginning to get used to it, the boy waits for his mother to come from the cocoa garden, which is located farther away than the place where she usually goes. His mother has taught him to hum in order to ward off fear when he is alone.

 

Kazan Festival presents out-of- competition program “Russia - Islamic World”

 

Gimba befriends with a girl called Lara, who walks past the hut every day. They play together and Gimba calms down for a while. His mother’s condition worsens day by day, but she keeps going to the garden in order to earn money and be able to pay for hospital fees. It gets dark, and Gimba’s anxiety grows. Every time he hears rustling in the bushes, he thinks it is his mother…

 

Kazan Festival presents out-of- competition program “Russia - Islamic World”

 

The Kyrgyz film ‘Lake’, directed by Emil Atageldiev, delves into an ancient legend, according to which a soul of every deceased person is found in a lake, in a fish swimming there…

 

Kazan Festival presents out-of- competition program “Russia - Islamic World”

 

On the shore of Lake Issyk-Kul an old teacher of history, Temirkul, lives. The old man, who tragically lost his only daughter in his youth, has never fully recovered from this loss. He believes in the legend that from ancient times the Kyrgyz do not eat fish as they believe that souls of their ancestors, waiting for a new reincarnation, become fish in the sacred lake. His neighbor, Askhat, embittered by daily survival, has to feed his family by poaching.

 

Kazan Festival presents out-of- competition program “Russia - Islamic World”

 

The poacher’s 11-year-old daughter, Zhyldyz, under the influence of the old man, feels a deep inner protest against poaching. She sincerely believes in the legend and, like the old man, does not eat fish, which causes misunderstanding among her family and peers. When the old man’s wife dies suddenly, she and Askhat have a conflict. The old teacher wants to bury his wife in accordance with the ancient custom. But Askhat forcibly imposes his will on the old man and takes care of the ‘dignified’ funeral according to the accepted traditions.

 

Kazan Festival presents out-of- competition program “Russia - Islamic World”

 

The problem of patriarchal, outdated traditions and one’s own destiny is raised by Kazakh film director Adilkhan Yerzhanov. In his work ‘Ulbolsyn’ he tells a story of a 16-year-old girl kidnapped for marriage. The main character, strong-willed Ulbolsyn, lives in a city. Her younger sister Azhar is finishing school in the village of Karatas. Ulbolsyn has big plans for the future of her beloved sister: she has saved up enough money for Azhar to enter a prestigious foreign university, which would allow her to make a career and become free and independent. However, when she comes to pick her up in Karatas, she finds out that the girl has been kidnapped by local medicine man Urgen, a man respected by the villagers, with the aim of making her his ‘tokal’ – his younger wife. Every villager is ready to stand up for Urgen, even by giving their life for his health. Among his close friends there is a public prosecutor, the head of the village and members of the secret service. But Ulbolsyn does not intend to leave it as it is, and she resolutely joins the fight against the patriarchal world of Karatas…


In the process of fighting for her sister’s future, Ulbolsyn faces nepotism, ‘sale’ of the girl for a bride price, inability of the authorities to resist the image of the individual and connivance of the secret service. It is symbolic that the name of the main character is translated from Kazakh as ‘let there be a son’. This used to be, and sometimes still is, the name for girls when they wanted a boy in the family instead. Such a name stays with a girl for the rest of her life and speaks of her unwantedness in the family…

 

Kazan Festival presents out-of- competition program “Russia - Islamic World”

 

Nigerian director Desmond Ovbyagele’s work ‘The Girl Who Milked Cows’ deals with a difficult but very topical issue: spread of radical teachings. The film uses the broken lives of two sisters, Aisha and Zainab, to illustrate how the loss of family, harsh physical and moral conditions and constant pressure from tormentors can break even the strongest person and turn them into a weapon in capable hands.


The actions begin with a celebration – Aisha’s younger sister, Zainab, is getting married. The well-planned traditional preparations begin in rural sub-Saharan Africa, with the milkmaid sisters and groom-farmer Kharuna. The day arrives for the bonding of the union. But all the prospects of a bright future together for the newlyweds crumble when insurgents attack in the middle of the wedding. A massacre takes place and both sisters along with other residents of the village are kidnapped and taken to a rebel base on the outskirts of a remote town. The new, unacceptable for the sisters life will be a test of themselves, their family, faith, relationships, and even humanity, forcing them to make choices in favor of survival and sanity, with serious consequences for everybody. Has the innocence of the past become a dream that will never come true?

 

Kazan Festival presents out-of- competition program “Russia - Islamic World”

 

The girls, once captured, wear black clothes given to them and are subjected to hard physical labor that debilitates their already exhausted bodies. The two sisters are given in marriage to the best ones among the insurgents. Aisha manages to escape, while Zainab remains with the enemy. After Aisha’s mother and husband refuse to accept her due to the fact she is pregnant with the child of the new husband she was forced to marry, the girl decides to search for her sister. As fate would have it, she arrives at the house of her husband Dangan, who turns out to be the new husband of her sister, who has taken the new name of Fatia. Her sister’s escape, hardship, hard work and the news of her family’s demise has shattered the girl. This state becomes fertile ground for cultivation of radical ideas in the girl’s mind. She is already preparing suicide bombers and is proud to tell her sister about the explosions she has already personally carried out. In the course of their conversation, Aisha finds out that Zainab holds a grudge against her because her elder sister is considered the favourite one of their parents.

 

Kazan Festival presents out-of- competition program “Russia - Islamic World”

 

No amount of goodwill from her husband, no gifts or fulfillment of any whim can keep Aisha locked up and among the radical views alien to her, among extremists who want to rule the world. She persuades Dangan to take her sister and escape this hell to their mother’s house. But Zainab betrays her sister, choosing the ideals of her new ‘family’. Those who arrange an escape face the death penalty of stoning. However, at the last moment, Zainab runs to save her sister and pays with her own life…


So it is in real life, not on the screen: it may be too late to take the right side and abandon lies, betrayal and violence…

 

Kazan Festival presents out-of- competition program “Russia - Islamic World”

 

The Ark Iranian brothers’ film ‘Skin’ is also about family relationships. Araz lives with his witch mother Markhamat and is under her spell to stay with her and not follow his love.

 

Kazan Festival presents out-of- competition program “Russia - Islamic World”

 

Nevertheless, Araz tries to break free from her spell, and the closer he gets to his beloved, the weaker his mother becomes. Araz faces a choice between his love towards his mother and his beloved, but evil leads him to his beloved, while his conscience to his sinful mother. The man implores his beloved to make a choice between his life and mother as well.

 

Kazan Festival presents out-of- competition program “Russia - Islamic World”

 

In his work ‘Weapon’ Turkish film maker Fatikh Ozdjan tells a story about an ordinary Turkish family where lust for power and money overrode all brotherly feelings and brought tragedy into their house.

 

Kazan Festival presents out-of- competition program “Russia - Islamic World”

 

In a mountain village in the heart of Anatolia, Veisi lives. One morning when he goes with his son Mustafa to the cattle yard, his flock of sheep is attacked by a pack of wolves, resulting in great losses for Veisi. He now wishes he had a sophisticated weapon called a Mauser, also known as the ‘King of Weapons’ to protect himself and his flock. He goes to a local arms dealer, who promises to give him a Mauser if he proves to be a good hunter. Veisi hunts the wolf, which has attacked his flock, and eventually manages to kill the wolf cub and the she-wolf. Full of pride, he returns to the village. After this, they start a dispute with his brother over their father’s inheritance. The wolf, who has lost his entire family, becomes a third party to the dispute.

 

Kazan Festival presents out-of- competition program “Russia - Islamic World”

 

But then Veisi and Bekir’s father passes away. At this moment, Veisi is out hunting, which upon his return prompts rumours both in the family and in the village that the newfangled weapon turns out to be more important than the life of his own father. Bekir, dissatisfied with the way their father has divided the property, decides to divide everything equally. As a result of a scuffle between the two brothers, Bekir decides to do something terrible – fratricide. But the downed gun aims the weapon at Veisi’s son, who is in serious condition and on the verge of death. Eager to avenge his innocent son, Veisi sets off to Bekir. However, a desire for revenge, greed and the feud between blood brothers ends in the death of Veisi at the hand of Bekir. The silent wolf has witnessed the justice that has been done: the man who took his family from him has lost his life himself…

 

Kazan Festival presents out-of- competition program “Russia - Islamic World”

 

Afghan cinema occupies a special place in the Russia – Islamic World program. Ramin Rasuli’s ‘Last Night the Dogs Didn’t Sleep’ is a synthesis of the stories of the difficult lives of the three people, who, by the will of fate, encounter each other.

 

Kazan Festival presents out-of- competition program “Russia - Islamic World”Kazan Festival presents out-of- competition program “Russia - Islamic World”Kazan Festival presents out-of- competition program “Russia - Islamic World”

 

In a remote area of Afghanistan after a school fire, the life stories of a young shepherdess, a boy bird-catcher and a grieving teacher intertwine. The young shepherdess takes a risk rescuing a female soldier from America after a helicopter crash; the bird-catcher finds refuge in a tank among birds, charming girls and the illicit music he loves; and the grieving teacher seeks revenge on the man who has left her a widow…

 

Kazan Festival presents out-of- competition program “Russia - Islamic World”

 

In ‘Open Door’ Albanian director Florence Papas tells the story of Rudina, who, along with her unmarried pregnant sister Elma, embarks on a long journey to her native village to meet her strict father, a stickler for old rules.

 

Kazan Festival presents out-of- competition program “Russia - Islamic World”Kazan Festival presents out-of- competition program “Russia - Islamic World”

 

On the way to the mountains, Elma comes up with an idea to enlist her former classmate to play the role of her husband.

 

Kazan Festival presents out-of- competition program “Russia - Islamic World”

 

The work of Mohammad Kart (Iran) ‘The Drowning’ deserves special mention. Which is more valuable: your own interests and position in the milieu or the honor of a loved one who has been undeservedly defamed? Khoshem, the protagonist, has made a choice in favor of himself. Khoshem’s wife, Parvaneh, who was teaching her children to swim in the pool, was filmed on a phone while she was changing her clothes. Within a couple of minutes, the video has spread all over the entire city, enraging the heroine’s husband wildly. Unable to cope with the rage that has curbed him, the man pounces on his wife in the back of his younger brother’s car and stabs her to death in a matter of seconds.

 

Kazan Festival presents out-of- competition program “Russia - Islamic World”

 

A short video, a few seconds, a couple of precise blows, and the lives of two families have shattered before their eyes. The parents of the meek Parvaneh are inconsolable and demand that the culprit be hanged. Khoshem’s relatives are also unhappy with the man’s behavior, but try to justify him. There is the only slim chance to avoid the death penalty by hanging – to find out who shot the video and uploaded it on the Internet. Khoshem’s brother, Khojjat, embarks on a journey through the labyrinths of Tehran to find who is responsible for this dirty game. On his journey to the truth, he goes to Khoshem’s colleagues, trying to find out who might have had it in for him to retaliate so cruelly by defaming the honor of his wife, the meek and sweet girl daughter-in-law of their family. On his quest, Khojjat is no stranger to the cruel methods of his elder brother. As a result, Khojjat comes across a woman who has videotaped Parvaneh in a swimming pool under threat of death and disgrace. But who would want to so brutally defame and literally destroy the life of an innocent girl? This person turns out to be Mosayeb, Khojjat’s assistant, his right-hand man. This discovery literally throws Khojjat out of whack; in his mind all the events of his distant childhood and recent days are pieced together into a coherent whole. Who stole the bicycle that little Khojjat had been working for all summer? Who planted the drugs in his car, which resulted in his serving five years in prison and his wife losing a child? It turns out his brother is to blame. This realization leaves Khojjat in a daze, which leaves him helpless and guilt-ridden daughter-in-law Parvaneh, whom he has failed to protect from the evil intentions of his brother, resurfaces.

 

Kazan Festival presents out-of- competition program “Russia - Islamic World”

 

Despite all his resentment against his elder brother for his unscrupulousness and his desire to be first in everything at any cost, for his own position and status in society rather than his wife Parvaneh’s honor, Khojjat does not reveal the whole truth to his parents, thus condemning himself to a long struggle of conscience inside his soul.

 

Kazan Festival presents out-of- competition program “Russia - Islamic World”

 

We would like to remind that traditionally the Strategic Vision Group ‘Russia – Islamic World’ is a partner of the Kazan International Muslim Film Festival. The Group’s special prize ‘For Dialogue of Cultures in the Islamic World’ with a monetary reward of 300 000 rubles was traditionally awarded this year to one of the 10 films in the special Russia – Islamic World program at the festival’s closing ceremony.

 


Ilmira Gafiyatullina