PROD Anna Katchko
SCR/ED Emir Baigazin
CAM Aziz Zhambakiyev
PROD DES Yuliya Levitskaya
PROD CO JCS Kazakhfilm / Post Republic Halle / Rohfilm / Arizona Film
One of the year’s most exciting discoveries, this gripping tale of bullying and revenge makes a village high school in rural Kazakhstan a microcosm of the ills of Kazakh society. The protagonist is smart, meticulous, 13-year-old Aslan (Timur Aidarbekov) who lives with his grandmother on an isolated farm. On his first day at school, he falls victim to a humiliating prank pulled by his thuggish classmate Bolat. Not only does Aslan experience post-traumatic stress from the incident, but Bolat persuades the other boys in the class to treat him as an outcast, never speaking to him or shaking his hand.
Bolat is in the employ of some adult gangsters on whose behalf he extorts money from the other school children. If they don’t pay up, he beats them severely or steals their belongings. A new boy from the capital arrives mid-semester and tries to resist, but ultimately, he is unable to defy Bolat’s reign of terror. Meanwhile, Aslan methodically prepares his revenge… Drawing comparisons to the work of masters like Bresson and Kieslowski, director-writer-editor Emir Baigazin crafts an impressively controlled first feature that has a singular aesthetic all of its own.
"Poetic, formally disciplined and psychologically gripping…"—David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter