Nazarbayev University students’ film is the winner in the “Best feature film” nomination

On March 2nd, 2018, the II Annual Award of the Film Critics of KazNUA (Kazakh National University of Arts) “KinostArt-2018” took place in Astana. The film of Nazarbayev University students "Zhel" became the winner in the "Best feature film" nomination. Thereby, the authors of the film now have the opportunity to participate in the “Critics’ Choice – 2018” film contest, which will be held on March 19th in Almaty. As “KinostArt-2018” contest held for participants from Astana, the “Critics’ Choice – 2018” will unite filmmakers from all over the country. We interviewed the director of the film – Adilet Abish, the 2nd year student of Nazarbayev University (NU) School of Engineering.

- Adilet, how did you come up with the idea to participate in this contest?
- It all began with participation in the “Annual Film Fest 2017” Film Festival, which was organized by the NU Youth Parliament. After the film festival, one of the jury members approached us and advised to take part in the event organized by the KazNUA. We doubted that we could somehow compete with the students of KazNUA because many of them are doing majors in the fields related to the filming and film directing. Eventually, we won one of the two main nominations! There were 11 nominations and only two ("Grand Prix" and "Best Feature Film") qualify for a further republic competition – “Critics' Choice - 2018”.

- How was an idea of the film born?
- “Annual Film Fest 2017” is my second film festival. Unfortunately, I did not win anything at the first festival. The idea of the film belongs to Sapargali Suraganov, 4th year student of NU School of Humanities and Social Sciences, and it was born even before our participation in the first film festival. At that time, we were afraid to choose the topic of the December events of 1986, as it is difficult to develop an idea in a short film. During the preparation for the second film festival, we had troubles choosing a new topic, because everyone had an old idea at the back of our minds. After all, we finally decided to make a film about events in Almaty. Sapar studied a large amount of information on this topic: he analyzed the data that was in the public access and contacted people who wrote articles about these events. One of the main goals was to outline facts of that time, and not to offend or misinform anyone. Apparently, due to the lack of experience, the first scenario was very controversial. However, we took advice from historians and eliminated all the shortcomings of the scenario. Our film is not a tool for teaching anyone and it does not raise any questions. The film simply shows the meeting of students of 1986 and 2017 years. Do not search for the meaning in it. Everyone understands the film in their own way and it's cool.

- How did the casting process take place?
- All the actors are students of Nazarbayev University. The role of a student from 2017 was performed by Alisher Kazhenov, and the role of a student from 1986 was performed by Saniya Asembek. Usually, the directors and writers have an image of the main character that they want to see in the film. We had an image of a Kazakh guy with a swarthy skin who would look like a representative of the modern Kazakh Intellegentia. The appearance of Alisher did not quite fit the description in the script, but in casting we really liked his game and how he introduced the character of Sergei Bodrov Jr from the movie "Brother". As a result, Sapar and I came to the conclusion that Alisher's appearance can be used as an indicator that current Kazakhstan is in unity and representatives of different nationalities live on its territory.

For a female role, we invited Saniya as she played well on the previous castings and we kept her in mind.
It should be noted that the crew was formed from non-professionals. My friends – Adilzhan Adilkhanov and Miras Nysanbek acted as the producer and the stage light specialist of the film. Adilzhan had a staging experience and I fully trusted him in this question. My friend and a member of our LCA student club – Dzhabrail Chumakov, did video editing. All of us were united only by the fact that we love movies and support this idea.

- How did you become interested in video filming?
- During school years I saved some money and bought myself a smartphone with a good camera. Once, my friends and I went to the mountains where I made a lot of photos and recorded several videos. At home, I came across a standard video editor on the phone and used it to edit a video and put music on it. It turned out bad, but I liked it. Then my classmates and I recorded video congratulation on March 8 for girls in our class. Later, my father bought me a bridge camera for family photos. I started to use it for recording different school events. For editing, I used the same program, but on my sister’s laptop.

- What are your future plans?
- Now, I am a 2nd year student of the School of Engineering and I am engaged in commercial video shooting. During my school time, I could not even imagine that I could earn money on my hobby. I can’t say for sure what I will do in the future. The only thing I can say is that I will not be lost (laughs). I'm still looking for myself, I guess.

- How did you manage studies and filming?
- After a very busy first year at the university, I thought that if I minimize social activity, then I would have much free time. In addition, to save my time, I resigned from LCA student club’s president position and the club was actually founded by me. However, this year it became clear that without social activity I have no mood, and without good mood, it is very difficult to concentrate on studying.

And for myself, I realized that everything in life should be in harmony and when it happens you find time for everything!