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“Almaty Film Festival” attracting International attention for Kazakhstan

(By Dr Shahid Qureshi – Chief Editor): –

Kazakhstan has a unique position being in the neighbourhoods of Chinese and Russian cultures as well as it has its own historical identity. Since independence the founding fathers are working hard to rejuvenate the glorious past of the country and region. There is no doubt that founding father first President Nursultan Nazrabayve tried his best to keep the strategic balance between neighbours China, Russia, Central Asian States, and strategic allies from US, UK, EU and cultural partner Turkey. I have been studying and travelling to Kazakhstan frequently as Britain is educational and cultural partner of Kazakhstan.

In this context I requested bright and energetic media consultant Dalida Nakupova based in Almaty to speak about Almaty Film Festival. She is one of the top bilingual media and PR expert in the country, a mother of two girls with interest in horses. We began by asking her following questions.

Please tell us about the Almaty Film Festival recently held?

It was a pleasure and the first experience of mine, as for PR practitioner that coped various communication projects in the CIS, Caucasian, and Central Asian countries, to be a part of a press-office team, headed by Anna Shelepova, at the II International ALMATY Film FESTIVAL–2019, held in my native country — the Republic of Kazakhstan.

In September 14 to 20, 2019 I was honored to work at the ALMATY FILM FESTIVAL, and, as a matter of fact, to tell the world about it now.

It is the second year that ALMATY FILM FESTIVAL is performed and has its own business forum the ALMATY FILM DISTRICT, which sets trends in the international film industry.

The event is held under the city administration and Mayor support, because it is devoted to the Day of the City of Almaty celebration each year.

The participation is free of charge for the public; so, anyone in Almaty could watch more than 80 screenings, and over 7 000 kids, adults, and mass media attended events and masterclasses during the festival.

In 2019 the business forum brought together filmmakers and investors from Kazakhstan, Russia, Italy, Germany Singapore, South Korea, China, Japan, Georgia, France, Great Britain, Iran, the USA, and many other countries. At the masterclasses and round tables producers shared their unique experiences with local filmmakers and students.

The program included the following topics: “Women in cinema” in collaboration with UNESCO, “Marketing in cinema”, “Cooperation with investment funds”, “Streaming online platforms”, “Cinema and theatre business” and “The role of creative film industries and film commissions in urban development”. Plus, a presentation “Association of Asian Film Commissions” of KOFIC (The Korean Film Council) was held during the film festival.

We had press-conferences daily, where mass media, opinion leaders, and visitors met with speakers, guests of screenings, producers, directors and actors to discuss the movies worth seeing and film industry issues.

How it was helpful to the local producers, directors and artists ?

The festival promotes the art of cinema among young people and develops kids’ and family film production. The ALMATY FILM FESTIVAL-2019 program included a family films section made in cooperation with Disney in Russia & CIS, and the European Association of Children’s Films (ECFA), which ALMATY FILM FESTIVAL joined this year becoming the only member from Central Asia.

Traditionally the festival kicked off with a beautiful red carpet opening ceremony where they could see many Kazakh artists, filmmakers, popular actors and actresses, international guests of the film festival, including the crew of “Viy 2: Journey to China”, which opened the event in 2019.

More than 6000 fans came to the Republican Palace to support their idols.

At the closing ceremony of the film festival in the Palace of the Republic, the winners of the main competition “Rapprochement of Cultures” were announced.

The Grand Prix was awarded to LET THERE BE THE LIGHT, directed by Marco Skop (Slovakia, Czech Republic / 2019). The award for Best Director was given to Maryam Touzani for ADAM (Morocco, France, Belgium / 2019). The award for Best Actor was given to Valentin Novopolsky and David Ogrodnik for their roles in the film OLEG, directed by Juris Kursietis (Latvia, Lithuania, Belgium, France / 2019). The award for Best Actress was given to Salome Demuria for INHALE-EXHALE,directed by Dito Tsintsadze (Georgia, Russia, Sweden / 2019). The Special Jury Prize was awarded to IT MUST BE HEAVEN, directed by Elia Suleiman (France, Qatar, Germany, Canada, Turkey, Palestine / 2019).

Apart from the awards of the main competition, independent awards from UNESCO for the best documentaries were presented. The winner was WOMEN OF THE SILK ROAD, directed by Yassamin Maleknasr (Iran, Oman, Tajikistan, Turkey / 2017).

Two more films received Special Mention by UNESCO — MERATA: HOW MUM DECOLONIZED THE SCREEN, directed by Hepi Mita (New Zealand, 2019) and FEMALE PLEASURE, directed by Barbara Mueller (Switzerland, Germany, 2018).

How the Festival promoted the individuals? 

The new 2019 ALATAU FILM AWARDS were given to Kazakh commercial films, which already caught the fancy of the general public in the eight categories.

The winner of the unique MADE IN ALMATY screenwriting competition, where the panel reviewed 93 applications, was the project of Zhandos Smakov BLOOD AND COPPER. It was chosen by the expert panel, chaired by the festival’s president Akan Satayev. As the main prize, the winner will have an opportunity to fully implement the idea of his script.

Specially invited international film industry experts had one-on-one meetings with the finalists of the Made in Almaty screen writing competition and coached them for presentations. It was a great opportunity, both for novice filmmakers and for experienced ones.

ALMATY FILM FESTIVAL also supported the 48 Hour Film Race, a short film program, sponsored by the US diplomatic mission in Kazakhstan. The project supports the emerging community of independent directors, film producers and scriptwriters in Central Asia by providing them with training and collaboration opportunities.

The festival aims to develop the Kazakh film industry, increase the public interest in cinematography and strengthen international cooperation.

ALMATY FILM FESTIVAL also aims to present the cultural capital of the country, the city of Almaty, as a major tourist center of Central Asia. The festival’s organizers and participants introduce the strengths and new features of the Kazakh film production industry to the world cinema community.

Thank you

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