Harmony Lessons sheds light on a small village on the lonely steppes of rural Kazakhstan. Bolat and his gang of flunkies rule the village’s main school, a microcosm of Kazakh society. Aslan, a thirteen-year-old living with his grandmother, is a meticulous and successful science student but very terse in his communication. Through the daily schoolyard routine of taunts and humiliations that Aslan faces, Bolat is revealed to be part of a hierarchy led by seasoned criminals raising cash for those in prison. Aslan, silently suffering, methodically prepares his revenge.
In this insightful Kazakh film, symbolism and striking cinematography help us navigate the complicated landscape of a teenager’s mind after the collapse of the Soviet bloc. Emir Baigazin wrote, edited and directed this fascinating Darwinist first feature, which, through his still shots, reminds us of Bresson and the best parts of Japanese film noir.
EMIR BAIGAZIN was born in Kazakhstan in 1984 and graduated from the Kazakh National Academy of Arts. He was selected to the Asian Film Academy at the Pusan International Film Festival in South Korea. Harmony Lessons, his debut feature, has received support from the Berlinale World Cinema Fund and the CNC’s Aide aux Cinémas du Monde.
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