DR. GULNARA ABIKEYEVA-ARAŞTIRMACI-SİNEMA TARİHÇİSİ
DR. GULNARA ABIKEYEVA
Art critic profiles Kazakh films
Domestic funding is limited to films flattering to the Kazakh government
Films in Kazakhstan will not receive state funding if they do not focus on favorably comparing Kazakhstan’s current government leaders to popular historical figures. So said Kazakh film critic Dr. Gulnara Abikeyeva on Monday to about 20 in the visual arts center.
Abikeyeva is in San Antonio on a six-week Fulbright scholarship.
The Fulbright Program is funded by the U.S. government to increase the understanding of people in other countries.
Abikeyeva’s Fulbright is one in the series “Direct Access to the Muslim World.”
Abikeyeva has spoken about film and culture in the former Soviet Union and Central Asia in classes here and at St. Philip’s College for the past three weeks.
Abikeyeva is from the Republic of Kazakhstan which has been independent since 1991, when the Soviet Union collapsed. The republic is the largest and considered the most westernized of the Central Asian countries that were once part of the Soviet Union.
Kazakhstan has been called the “last point of Europe before real Asia begins.”
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Abikeyeva said she thinks that Kazakhstan has changed for the better.
“There is enough free life,” she said. “It is a good country with good prospects.”
Kazakhstan as a young country is dependent on the government to fund costly artistic projects.
Abikeyeva, who works as the editor for the cultural department of the national newspaper Megalopolis and writes about Central Asian film, says that more artistic and contemporary films — films that she believes would be more meaningful to the culture — can find only foreign financial support.
Kazakh films that focus on the reality of Kazakhstan receive funding from investors in Europe, mostly France.
These films do not make money in Kazakhstan where the majority of films shown are American. Theater owners say that they will lose money if they show Kazakh films because people will not pay to see them.
In America, there are many categories of films including action, comedy and drama. Abikeyeva said there are no such genre films in Kazakhstan.
A movie that resembles the realistic style of Kazakh films is “Good Will Hunting,” the 1997 film directed by Gus Van Sant.
All Kazakh films face obstacles. They can’t compete commercially with big budget films made in the United States and elsewhere. Only about five to eight of these contemporary Kazakh films are made annually, and they are usually only shown in film festivals.
Domestically made films are rare enough in Kazakhstan to warrant a designated Kazakh Film Week to increase their profile.
Abikeyeva is a regular at the film festivals, which are held in Germany and France. She was been a presenter and a member of discussion panels as well as working as a journalist, covering the events for Megapolis.
The countries bordering Kazakhstan to the south are much more restrictive on art.
“It is like traveling through different years as you travel through these countries,” Abikeyeva said.
“Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan are mostly closed; the development has stopped. People from these countries say Kazakhstan is like living in Paris,” Abikeyeva said.
The governments of Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan do not allow “nontraditional entertainment,” she said.