Central Asia

Battleship Potemkin (1925)
Sergej M. Eisenstein
Russia
49′
The revolution film par excellence, here in the German needle-tone version of 1930: The film presents a dramatized version of the mutiny that occurred in 1905 when the crew of the Russian battleship Potemkin rebelled against their officers. Battleship Potemkin was named the greatest film of all time at the Brussels World's Fair in 1958. In 2012, the British Film Institute named it the eleventh greatest film of all time.
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Blind Dates (2013)
Levan Koguashvili
Georgia
99′
Sandro is a forty-something teacher and still lives with his parents, who constantly meddle in his private life. He shows little interest in the blind dates his friend Iva pressures him to go on. On an outing to the Black Sea, he falls in love with the hairdresser Manana. When her husband Tengo is released from jail early, Sandro’s predicament takes on absurd dimensions. He gets caught up in wild family disputes and feels compelled to move Natia, pregnant with Tengo’s child, into his parents’ home. Wrong conclusions and misunderstandings are the driving force of this melancholy comedy, in which everyone meddles with everything but no one really listens, which only leads to yet further confusion. When in doubt, they all argue together with true ferocity, the situation invariably ending in intense outbursts. Levan Koguashvili’s second feature is thus in keeping with the best traditions of Georgian cinema. The narrative tone stays calm, as the events come thick and fast. Unsentimental, with various ellipses and allusions, and shot with wonderful colour compositions and an incredible feel for space, architecture and cityscapes, the film ultimately attains extraordinary profundity.
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Das Mädchen mit der Hutschachtel (1927)
Boris Barnet
Russia
93′
Can you find happiness in the big city? The young hat maker Natascha, who lives with her grandfather in a suburb covered in winter snow, has to commute by train from the village to Moscow to deliver her creations to the extravagant Irene's hat shop. For the administration, Irene claims Natascha to be her subtenant in order to be able to have more living space. The clumsy railway official woos the lovely country girl with his ravishing smile. But she enters into a fictitious marriage with the provincial Ilya in order to get him a room in Moscow. With an apparently worthless lottery ticket, which Irene's husband gives to Natascha, the entanglements become turbulent. Boris Barnet describes the contrasts between city and country and the new living conditions in Moscow in a stylish and socially critical way. Three great acting talents, Anna Stén, Iwan Kowal-Samborski and Vladimir Fogel, form the triangle of relationships. Originally ordered as a vehicle to advertise the State Lottery, the film made the studio rich and the natural talent director Boris Barnet famous as the founder of lyrical comedy.
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Die seltsamen Abenteuer des Mr. West im Land der Bolschewiken (1924)
Lew Kuleschow
Russia
77′
Travelled to the Soviet Union with many prejudices, the American businessman Mr. West has to correct his view of the Soviets after several adventures at the end of his journey. Silent movie grotesque that ironically glosses the erroneous opinions of the West about the USSR. A film historical document worth seeing. (Dictionary of International Cinema)
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Durak (2014)
Juri Bykow
Russia
121′
Dima Nikitin is a simple and honest plumber who works in a small Russian town. Except for his unusual integrity, nothing makes him stand out of the crowd, until one night in a dorm mainly occupied by drunkards and outcasts, the pipes burst, endangering the occupants. Everybody needs to be immediately evacuated but nobody cares, so Nikitin sets off on a night-long odyssey to fight an entire system of corrupt bureaucrats.
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Euphoria (2006)
Ivan Vyrypaev
Russia
71′
In an amazingly beautiful place, on the bank of the wide Don, in a remote, half-destroyed village, surrounded by only steppe for hundreds of miles, a real drama takes place. An unexpected passionate love between a young man and a married woman literally destroys the lives of not only the main characters, but also their close ones.
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Heavenly Nomadic (2015)
Mirlan Abdykalykow
Kyrgyzstan
78′
A nomadic family lives with their horses in the intoxicating nature of Kyrgyzstan. Schaiyr's husband drowned in the nearby river years ago. A new love is on the horizon as meteorologist Jermek sets up his measuring station next to Schaiyr's home. Told in the gentle rhythm of the nomadic life, director Mirlan Abdykalykow takes us on a journey through time into the easily vulnerable heart of a family and into the dreamlike nature.
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The Coat (1926)
Grigori Kosinzew Leonid Trauberg
Russia
80′
A minor clerk, Bashmachkin, replaces his threadbare overcoat with one made from the finest materials he can afford. Then one evening ruffians beat him up and steal his cherished new garment. The actors’ highly stylized gestures border on modern dance, and Bashmachkin’s world, especially as he begins to lose his grasp on reality, is powerfully rendered with looming shadows, oblique camera angles and eccentric architecture.
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The Cranes Are Flying (1957)
Michail Kalatosow
Russia
91′
Veronika and Boris come together in Moscow shortly before World War II. Walking along the river, they watch cranes fly overhead, and promise to rendezvous before Boris leaves to fight. Boris misses the meeting and is off to the front lines, while Veronika waits patiently, sending letters faithfully. After her house is bombed, Veronika moves in with Boris’ family, into the company of a cousin with his own intentions.
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The Light Thief (2010)
Aktan Abdykalykow - Arym Kubat
Kyrgyzstan
79′
They call him "Svet-ake" ("Mr. Light"). The electrician is responsible for bringing more than just light to the people around him. Like moths, everybody is drawn to his kindness: those with short circuits in their electricity, and those with short circuits in their marriage, those who have taken all the power in the city, and those who have given up the will to live. He helps everyone and is everywhere. He doesn't even shy from breaking the law, rewinding an old and lonely pensioner's electricity meter so that he doesn't owe the State, but rather the State owes him. The economic devastation of the country has had an enormous impact on the working people and yet despite the upheaval they have not lost the ability to love, to suffer, to share their lives with friends, and enjoy what they have... in particular our resilient electrician who possesses a wonderful and open heart. He not only brings electric light (which is often out) to the lives of the inhabitants of this village, but he also spreads the light of love, loyalty, life, and most of all, lots of laughter. He only has two dreams: to someday have a son and to provide people with cheaper energy through wind power. Allen nennen ihn nur Svet-Ake (Herr Licht). Er ist der Elektriker des Orts, aber für viel mehr als nur für den Strom zuständig. Die Leute rufen den hilfsbereiten Mann zur Lösung der unterschiedlichsten Probleme, angefangen beim elektrischen Kurzschluss bis hin zum Beziehungskurzschluss. Egal, ob es die sind, die die ganze Energie einer Stadt kontrollieren wollen, oder jene, denen die Energie zum Leben fehlt: Svet-Ake ist immer zur Stelle mit praktischer Hilfe und Rat, auch wenn er manchmal das Gesetz zurechtbiegen muss. Da wird aus schierem Mitleid auch mal ein Stromzähler rückwärts eingestellt, so dass der bedürftige Benutzer statt der hohen Stromrechnung eine Gutschrift vom Elektrizitätswerk ausbezahlt bekommt. Doch Gutherzigkeit wird in einem Land, das mitten im politischen Umbruch steckt, nicht automatisch belohnt. Aktan Arym Kubat beschreibt in «Svet-Ake» auf vergnüglich lockere Art den Alltag im unabhängig gewordenen Kirgisistan und zeigt, indem er die Hauptrolle gleich selber spielt, dass die Menschen auch lernen müssen, mit der Freiheit umzugehen. The country is the midst of a revolution. Power lies in the hands of greed-driven people, obsessed with their personal enrichment. "Svet-ake" is a resistance against this dark madness. He who brings the light, takes it away, leaving the darkness in the dark. Only the light of the dream remains glowing in the night; a candle of a very delicate hope.
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The Other Bank (2010)
George Ovashvili
Georgia
89′
Twelve-year-old Tedo lives with his young mother in Keto in an isolated hut on the outskirts of Tiflis. Tedo and Keto are refugees from Abchasia. The civil war has claimed everything they ever owned, including Tedo’s and Keto’s hopes for a bright future as an intact family unit. Tedo was just four years of age when they were obliged to flee from Abchasia. At the time, they had to leave behind Tedo’s father - his weak heart made it impossible for him to take on such a strenuous journey. Tedo is now an apprentice at a car repair shop and Keto is working as a sales assistant. Tedo gives the few pennies that he earns to his mother so that she no longer has to be nice to strange, unfriendly men. It pains the young boy agreat deal that he cannot earn more of a living for them; moreover, his mother’s moral conduct begins to weigh heavily on him. One day, when he discovers that she has a lover it becomes all too much for him and he decides to return to his father in Abchasia. Perhaps he will find the solution to all his problems there. Tedo meets many people on his journey - and suffers many a blow. He is by no means welcome everywhere. As his journey comes to an end he has acquired many an insight - such as the realisation that the grass is not necessarily greener on the other side.
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