Situated between the Caucasus, Russia, the Middle and East Asia, the vast expanse of Central Asia was once ruled by nomadic steppe empires and later inducted into the Soviet Union until its collapse in 1991. Placed at the crossroads of tradition and modernity these newly independent nations represent a complex amalgam of diverse histories and influences that in turn is reflected in their cinema. With a legacy of filmmaking dating back to the 1920s, producing propaganda cinema, to the more gritty social realist films of 80s and 90s, Central Asian cinema has now evolved to be a regular presence in international film festivals since the 2000s, garnering critical acclaim.
The title of this programme is inspired by Kazakh filmmaker Adilkhan Yerzhanov’s The Owners, in which a group of urbanite youths return to their ancestral home, only to be intimidated and terrorised by village elders who want them gone. Whose House is This? is a showcase of some of the boldest cinema from the past decade from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan. These films explore the contestations and renegotiations of space and ownership that take place within their respective societies, over issues of culture, gender, nationhood, and identity.
Whose House is This?: New Cinema of Central Asia will be available online on Vimeo On Demand from 19 June – 16 July 2020.
The films in the lineup are:
Face the Music (Мен сен емес; Петь свои песни) (2018), dir. Katerina Suvorova
Mariam (Мәриям) (2019), dir. Sharipa Urazbayeva
The Owners (Үкілі Камшат; Хозяева) (2014), dir. Adilkhan Yerzhanov
Suleiman Mountain (Suleyman gora) (2017), dir. Elizaveta Stishova
Aurora (Avrora) (2018), dir. Bekzat Pirmatov
Djamilia (Jamilia) (2018), dir. Aminatou Echard
Double Bill: The Haunted (Zakletý) (2017), dir. Saodat Ismailova
Double Bill: 40 Days of Silence (Chilla) (2014), dir. Saodat Ismailova
Songs of Abdul (Песни Абдула) (2016), dir. Anna Moiseenko
All films will be available for rent via Vimeo On Demand at USD$3.50 each from 19 June to 16 July 2020. Please click on the “Book Now” button which will redirect you to Vimeo. Upon purchase, the film will be available to you for 48 hours.
Due to the closure of cinemas following the COVID-19 pandemic, Whose House Is This? : New Cinema of Central Asia is the first programme from the Asian Film Archive that will be presented entirely online, as part of the newly-launched series “Rewired”.