MAD | Insight
Shot in Kyrgyzstan, and utilizing a new version of the classic Super 8 camera (yes, actual film stock!), Jamilia is beguiling and intensely beautiful. It weaves impressionistic, colour-saturated images of landscapes and gardens—the whispering beauty of sunlit apple orchards—together with equally dappled interiors, fabrics, flowers and clothing. Then there are the quiet, determined faces and voices, and music, …extraordinary central Asian music.
"At the beginning, a woman’s voice can be heard, describing the self-confident and strong-willed Jamilia… It’s World War II and her husband is at the front, she’s unhappy in her arranged marriage and decides to break with tradition and elope with her great love. A famous literary heroine, Jamilia turns out to be an ideal subject for director Aminatou Echard to start conversations with women in Kyrgyzstan and gain access to their world. The topic is by no means an innocuous one. For whether the women are speaking about Jamilia or about their own lives, it quickly becomes clear how powerful the conflicts, longings, and desires for self-determination still are. … The result is a set of carefully composed portraits whose beauty reflects both the candour of Aytmatov’s novel and the strength of today’s Jamilias". —Anna Hoffmann, Berlinale Forum
"Along with my interpreter Shahnoza, I filmed in Kyrgyz villages over the course of several years… I wanted to use the sensuality of [Super 8] film, with its physical, moving matter that sometimes gives the impression that the image is being created before our very eyes, as if our gaze had the power to bring the images to life. I wanted to get as close as possible to these women’s reality and make it perceptible from the inside."—Aminatou Echard