Date/Time: 01/08/2003 12:00 am
“>FILMS FROM ALONG THE SILK ROAD: CENTRAL ASIAN CINEMA
This series is presented with Seagull Films. It has been made possible through the generosity of the Open Society Institute (OSI) with special thanks to Anthony Richter. The films were curated by Alla Verlotsky and Kent Jones, and were originally presented by the Film Society of Lincoln Center; all film notes written by Kent Jones.
THE FALL OF OTRAR / GIBEL OTRARA
1990, 165 minutes, Kazakhstan.
Four arduous years in the making, Ardak Amirkulov’s 1990 historical epic about the intrigue and turmoil preceding Genghis Khan’s systematic destruction of the lost East Asian civilization of Otrar is unlike anything you’ve ever seen. The movie that spurred the extraordinary wave of great Kazakh films in the 90s, Amirkulov’s film is at once hallucinatory, visually resplendent and ferociously energetic, packed with eye-catching (and gouging) detail and B-movie fervor, and traversing an endless variety of parched, epic landscapes and ornate palaces. But THE FALL OF OTRAR is also one of the most astute historical films ever made, and its high quotient of torture and gore (Italian horror genius Mario Bava would have been envious) is always grounded in the bedrock realities of realpolitik: when the Kharkhan of Otrar is finally brought before the Ruler of the World, he could be facing Stalin, or, for that matter, any number of modern CEOs. The movie that has everything, from state-of-the-art 13th-century warfare to perfumed sex, THE FALL OF OTRAR is a one-of-a-kind experience. Shot in a sepia-toned black-and-white, and written by none other than Amirkulov’s old teacher Alexei Guerman and his wife, Svetlana Karmalita.
SATURDAY AUGUST 2
2:30 FILMS FROM ALONG THE SILK ROAD
DON’T CRY / JYLAMA
2003, 80 minutes, Kazakhstan.
Amir Karakulov’s latest film is a boldly experimental departure. Shot in intimate and colorfully vibrant DV, JYLAMA is the story of a Chinese-trained opera singer living in a remote Kazakh village with her grandmother and her ailing young niece. The bulk of the action consists of the steadfast heroine trying to make enough money to get the rare and costly medicine that may save her niece’s life. What makes the film so thrilling is that this elemental situation allows Karakulov and his cast of non-actors to illuminate the details of everyday life: reality and fiction dissolve into each other, and the audience achieves a heightened awareness of simple activities like the cooking of a meal, teaching a child to count in Chinese and English, visits to the doctor or the marketplace. Entirely improvised by the filmmaker and his actors, JYLAMA is one movie that puts digital technology to thrilling use.
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