This playfully stylized, bleakly funny Kazakh drama by young writer-director Adilkhan Yerzhanov, tells the familiar tale of small-town corruption and cronyism. Set in contemporary Kazakhstan,The Owners is part folklore, part social critique; an expression of everyday reality whose idiosyncratic characters and visually rich set pieces owe more than a passing nod to the pictorial language of Vincent van Gogh and the absurd nightmarish universe of Franz Kafka.
When three orphaned siblings – twenty-five year-old John, his teenage brother Erbol, and their sickly twelve-year-old sister Aliya – are forced to leave their house in the Kazakh city of Almaty, they decide to relocate to their mother’s ancestral home in a remote village, where they plan to prepare their comeback. However, the District Attorney’s alcoholic brother, who has lived there illegally for ten years, has no intention of letting the house go without a fight. Like Yerzhanov’s previous films, The Owners is a bittersweet tale of injustice and sacrifice that broaches the issues of lawlessness, homelessness and ownership.
Having premiered at the 67th Cannes International Film Festival, The Ownershas since won multiple international awards, and was listed in the 100 Best Asian Films in the catalogue published by Busan International Film Festival in 2015.