Dir: Adilkhan Yerzhanov | Writer: Roelof Jan Minneboo | Cast: Sultan Abzalov, Tulemis Alishev, Dinara Baktybaeva, Kulzhamilya Belzhanova | Drama | Fr/Kazakhstan |
Roelof Jan Minneboo is a Dutch writer and script doctor who works with budding independent filmmakers to give their distinctive stories a voice. He has done this so far with the late Somalian director Abdi Jama for Queleh, with Georgian director George Ovashvilli’s Corn Island which went on to win the main prize at Karlovy Vary in 2014 and with Armenian Ilgar Najaf whose Pomegranate Orchard (2017) picked up a several awards last year for his story of a prodigal son. This is his second collaboration with Kazakh filmmaker Adilkhan Yerzhanov, after the director won the Free Spirit Award at Warsaw for his debut The Owners (2014).
The title’s logline: Love will always be above life, fear, death and money, is an encouraging start and The Gentle Indifference of the World never disappoints with its captivating style and unusual narrative inspired by Kazakh Steppe legends. Each frame of this stunningly filmed piece of cinema is an absolute gem, once again embracing the free-spirited and unique cinematic voice that is Yerzhanov, directing with inventive conviction in a strangely poetic and offbeat thriller. Unexpected humour, gentleness and violence emerge from the bizarre yet simple tale about feisty Kazakh folk who are not afraid of taking the law into their own hands in the big sky countryside of the lle Alatau Steppe and in the corrupt city of Almaty.
After her father’s sudden death, the central character Sultanat (a gracefully charismatic Dinara Baktybaeva) is forced to move from her idyllic rural home to Almaty to raise money to pay off family debts so her mother can avoid a prison sentence. With only her faithful friend Kuandyk (Dyussembaev) for emotional support, city life proves tough for this ravishing beautiful young woman and even when her uncle comes up with a suitable husband to do the honours financially, Sultanat soon finds him wanting. She has been close friends with the faithful but penniless Kuandyk since they were little, but can their bond survive in the tough urban setting where cold reality lurks at every turn, and love must triumph over money and power which continually trump its survival? An extraordinary and evergreen story, beautifully told. MT