Duration: 48 min
May 08, 2020 - June 23, 2020
An eleven-year-old boy, Mirlan, is in love with a girl, Ainur, who is fifteen or sixteen years old. They spend a lot of time together, swinging on a swing. Life flows peacefully, but one day a sailor arrives in their village who begins to spend time with Ainura. Mirlan's heart breaks with longing until finally, he begins to draw his sadness on the outside wall of his house.
Roman Egorov and Mumtoz Ashrafkhanova, CCA LAB participants
- The website of Kyrgyzcinema states that the film Selkinchek was made without the involvement of literature, theater and professional actors. Was it created as a protest against classical art, about which there was a lot said in the Soviet Union, or did you shoot as you feel, without plunging yourself into a deep analysis of creativity?
- Selkinchek is probably not a protest, but rather a challenge to myself, when I tried to turn all the cons into pros. [I had] a small budget, cheap black-and-white film, a canvas and a tripod. Instead of lighting devices –[I had] natural lighting, harsh nature, and instead of snow, the wind was raging, which can be felt in each episode, thereby creating a breath in the frame. On the set, we didn't follow the written script, giving ourselves up to intuition, insight, inspiration. The only set of values to guide me was my first profession as an artist. In Kissing-not kissing, this is how we defined the elements of the image, their relationship to one another and their consistency, what we call a kind of cinematic imagery. A girl and a swing, a bushy-bearded boy and a sailor, a shell and clay mountains, the whiteness of walls and a charcoal drawing, old trees clinging to the firmament of the earth and dust escaping from the eyes – is not all this kissing? Now, analyzing it, I think that all this is a kind of manifest of the unconscious, which is born out of a conscious protest.
- You mentioned that your memories are mostly colorless. In the movie Beshkempir you used a technique wherein only certain objects stand out vividly in the gray reality. But in the movie about childhood Selkinchek, there are no colors at all. What color or colors do you associate with childhood?
- If my memories are of the nature of action, they are monochrome, containing but one color. And the emotions of my memories are, of course, brightly colored. It seems to me that the brain itself regulates how it stores information adequately. We have destroyed our instincts, we do not try to understand the logic of our thinking, we completely ignore our instincts and as a result trust ourselves less and less. Globalization unifies everything, including the individual. Selkinchek is a return to the origins of the soul and a tribute to the classics of black and white cinema, it is an opportunity to recreate lost feelings with light and shadow. My childhood is associated with the color of white: the walls of the house, blooming apple trees, my grandmother's white scarf... And for some reason those distant days seem white and the older we get the whiter they are, as if they are vanishing. I tried to reflect these feelings in Selkinchek, when the story goes into a long break, elevating the silence of the white.
- What did you learn during the filming of Selkinchek, and do you still use this experience?
- The film begins with a heavy wind. Locals call it the messenger of spring. He, raising a dust storm, literally cleans everything and everyone, and it is a time for renewal. It was as if a natural phenomenon had struck me. Selkinchek, revealing to me my biological essence, touched my soul. And I stopped being afraid to be naive, the shy feeling to express myself gained confidence and I saw my favorite characters, details, elements of nature, from story to story, creating a screen existence of my experiences. When we arrived in Kok-moynok, we couldn't start shooting for a long time, and only when we came up with the idea of a shell, we started filming. Then, when the film was released, I stumbled across the mythology: the shell means the lips of God and the listener finds reason. As I write this, the wind is blowing outside the window. In my opinion, there are moments when your microcosm comes into contact with the Universe, the macrocosm, as they say, looks down, and I see the top – this state is sacred inspiration. There is no formula for finding it, but I do know that it can be easily lost.
- We as a generation born in a young nation-state do not understand what it is like to come from a country that no longer exists. In this regard, I would like to ask, if your characters in the film Selkinchek were born in a different time period, later, would the characters themselves have changed, or has too little time passed for this?
- Where is your home, snail? - this was the name of my first full-length film, shot at the Tolomush Okeeva Studio, funded by the Union State Cinema under the patronage of the Roland Bykov center. This was a chance for me to prove my worth as a creative individual. On the way to achieving this goal, there is dissatisfaction with yourself, frustration, but if you know what this experience is for, what impact it should have on your life, then each step complements, expands and elevates the other, forming a ladder up which you climb, learning your true self. The USSR collapsed and we all found ourselves in the midst of a cataclysm that destroyed the entire Soviet past. In these times of troubles, Selkinchek appeared as a search for identity in the new Kyrgyz cinema. It is no accident that trees with vividly visible roots appeared in the film, which is a figurative symbol of a return to the roots. I think it is not productive to guess what my characters would be like in another time period, but if it were not for the Soviet Snail, there would not have been an independent Selkinchek.
- You said that you do not remember the names of filmmakers and the names of films and the experience gained through someone else's art is insignificant in your life. Are there then any events in your opinion that a person should go through in their life to understand you better?
- A person must have inferiority complexes that go back to childhood, adolescence and youth. And this is not a negative phenomenon, but a motivation to achieve one’s goals in life. On the way to perfection, he should not rely on superiority complexes and strive for power over other people, observing the balance, the amplitude of life. In Turin at a film festival after the screening [of one of my films], one of the audience members approached me and introduced himself as the second filmmaker of Pier Paolo Pasolini. Of course, I can't remember his name now, but his intelligence, method of communication, and analysis of the film surprised me at the time. But most of all, I was shocked by the attention with which he watched the film and one of his questions discouraged me. It was about a drawing of a boy in the film Girl on a Swing that was in the finale, and he asked if someone had retouched the scene. I remembered that Talgat Asyrankulov, the production designer, made a few touches and this person noticed it and said that it’s better not to touch the original image, thus spoiling the boy's sacred state. And this Italian with a different mentality seemed to understand and feel Selkinchek more than its creators.
- You once said: “authorial cinema implies dialogue”. Do you feel that the Kyrgyz audience responds to you and reacts to your films? Who are you talking to first and foremost?
- Fans of my films in Kyrgyzstan, I think, are becoming much greater in number. Of course, they do not even cover the cost of advertising before the rental of equipment, and yet we try to show each new film in the cinema. And it is important to work for the multiplication of your audience. With the arrival of new technologies and the simplification of film production in our country, there are filmmakers who consider our sphere as a business. Their creativity can be treated in different ways, but they succeed in one thing and for this they are worth thanking. These guys brought the audience back to the cinemas and partly thanks to them new cinemas are opening. At all times, art and commerce have been at war. In Western countries, there are various kinds of protection of copyright films in the form of laws, alternative cinemas, various centers and funds that finance production and distribution. And we must adopt this experience to limit mainstream access. When your hands are down and you are depressed, some random stranger, apologizing, can stop you and say: “thank you for your movies” and you are revived again. There are a few of them who appreciate the extraordinary, and some are my audience and I enter into a dialogue with them.
- In an interview, you said that "when you tell the truth, no one likes you.” If you agree with this now, do you think in Central Asia this idea has become more relevant over the past 20 years, or are people starting more easily to accept the truth?
- The truth is always relevant. Pseudo-Democratic countries in Central Asia are trying in every possible way to get rid of it, thereby declaring abnormal moral and spiritual values that benefit the ruling elite. Truth cannot exist only through analytical reasoning. This is, first of all, the fullness of life, to agree with morality and justice. In the Soviet era, truth-seeking was essential but now it has moved to social media. People in power treacherously control the internet and any information that defames them is reinterpreted to be beneficial to them, and, in the end, it becomes increasingly difficult for people to find the truth. If we want social harmony, universal justice, we must learn to separate the wheat from the chaff. The truth always relates to an individual's personality, determines what is important for them, forms an image of the spiritual reality and their inner world. Truth, as an art, must be tolerated.
-Authentic sounds and melodies in your works allow the audience to feel the drama even deeper. The sounds of the wind, the voices of grieving women, the vibrations of objects are very soulful in accompanying the pictorial component. Tell me, what kind of music is played in your daily life?
- Music is all of the sounds that surround me. Did you hear the poplar fluff fall? I don’t know how much time I watched the flying fluff, but it was as if I fell into a coma and in this silent contemplation I felt a ringing of fluff. Sometimes the pause gives you the opportunity to hear something so unimaginable as the state of a blooming poplar. We almost forget about silence as one of the main components of sound; we do not use the possibilities of a variety of noise in the drama of sound. Instead we automatically stretch the music to the image and are content with what is done. Ideally, silence and a complex palette of noises should form the polyphonic sound of the film's state. I don't know if film schools talk about such nuances in the solution of sound. In any case, novice filmmakers should know that there is an alternative approach. As an experiment, it would be possible to shoot coursework without replicas and music, so that through images and noises they could convey the plot and feelings. By the way, when I talk about sound, I don't mean only nature, but I also mean technical noise. For example, I actively use the hum of electrical wires. Paraphrasing the credo of the poet Olzhas Suleymenov, I strive "to elevate sounds without belittling music.”
- If you could talk over a glass of wine with anyone who ever existed, who would you choose to talk to?
- With God.
-What do you think is the recipe for happiness? From the outside you look like a happy person, so please share a secret: what can a young person do today to become happier?
- To know yourself while remaining yourself.
On an autumn walk, I listened to some parables sent by Darejan Omirbayev and noticed by chance some swallows flying nearby. Birds flew low over the ground, making shrill whistles. I thought they were saying goodbye to me. So I decided to share these feelings and wrote a three-line poem to Darejan:
Listening to the master,
Didn't say goodbye to the swallows,
Why, then, wise words…