Ardak Amirkulov


He was born in the vilage of Ak-Kul, Kazakhstan, in 1955.In 1980 he graduated from the Department of Linguistics of the State University of Kazakhstan. He went on to study film direction at MoscowΥs VGIK. From 1994 to 1997 he was president of Kazakhfilm Studio.

(English titles)
1981 Hunter (short film)
1986 The Military Tactical Games in the Crossroads Landscape
1990 The Fall of Otrar

Ardak Amirkulov, Kazakhstan, 1990; 165m
Four arduous years in the making, Ardak Amirkulov's 1990 historical epic about the intrigue and turmoil preceding Genghis Khan's systematic destruction of the lost East Asian civilization of Otrar is unlike anything you've ever seen. The movie that spurred the extraordinary wave of great Kazakh films in the 90s, Amirkulov's film is at once hallucinatory, visually resplendent and ferociously energetic, packed with eye-catching (and gouging) detail and B-movie fervor, and traversing an endless variety of parched, epic landscapes and ornate palaces. But THE FALL OF OTRAR is also one of the most astute historical films ever made, and its high quotient of torture and gore (Italian horror genius Mario Bava would have been envious) is always grounded in the bedrock realities of realpolitik: when the Kharkhan of Otrar is finally brought before the Ruler of the World, he could be facing Stalin, or, for that matter, any number of modern CEOs. The movie that has everything, from state-of-the-art 13th-century warfare to perfumed sex, THE FALL OF OTRAR is a one-of-a-kind experience. Shot in a sepia-toned black-and-white, and written by none other than Amirkulov's old teacher Alexei Guerman and his wife, Svetlana Karmalita.
1995 Abay
1998-1997 RustemΥs Diary



Festivalin büyük ödülünü kazanan film ise bu sene kaybettiğimiz ünlü yazar Cengiz Aytmatov’un aynı adlı eserinden uyarlanan Elveda Gülsarı! oldu. Otrar’ın Düşüşü filmiyle çıkış yapan ünlü Kazak yönetmen Ardak Amirkulov’un filmi, dış mekanlardaki temiz kamera çalışmasıyla meydana gelen fotoğraflarla göz doldururken, filmin seyircide bıraktığı duygu ve ruh izdüşümüyle, 1968’de ünlü kameraman Sergey Urusevski’nin yine çok dolgun imgeleri, üstelik psikolojik bir deyişe dönüşen renk bozundurmalarına göre biraz daha geride bile kalıyordu. En İyi Kısa Film Ödülü’nü 113. filmiyle Kazak Timur Bektirsinov’un aldığını belirttikten sonra, İstanbul’da, şubatta bir Orta Asya Sinema Günleri’nin düzenleneceğini haber verelim.


ASTANA, Kazakhstan -- Local films took the majority of prizes at the Kazakh festival Eurasia, which ended Sept. 13 in the country's administrative capital, Astana.

The top prize went to "Farewell, Gulsary!" by Ardak Amirkulov, an emotional version of a story by Chingiz Aitmatov about a man's love for his prize stallion.

Pic was a classic example of Kazakh film, exploiting the territory's unique landscapes and folklore traditions to the full.

Director prize went to another Kazakh, Adilkhan Yerzhanov for "Bakhytzhamal." The lead acting prize was shared between Kazakhs Dias Rakhmatov for "Small People" and Bakhytzhan Alpeisov for "Together With Father."

"Song of Southern Sea" thesp Irina Ageykina took the lead actress prize.

Yank producer Michael Fitzgerald, who was the jury prexy, and Kyrgyzstan's Bolotbek Shamshiyev shared the kudo for their contributions to the development of world cinema.

Kyrgyzstan's Temir Birnazarov won the special jury prize for his "Unknown Route."

For its fifth edition, Eurasia moved from its traditional base in business capital Almata to Astana, built on the steppes in just 10 years. Fest opened Sept. 7 with Cannes Un Certain Regard winner "Tulpan"

Event also repositioned itself on the international market, making dominant programming devoted to the cinema of Central Asia, namely Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan, drawing a number of Euro bizzers.

Among those attending were helmer Bruce Beresford and thesps Richard Dreyfuss, Jeremy Irons and Isabel Adjani.

Fest relocation to Astana appears to be final, given a closing ceremeony announcement from Kazakh culture minister Mukhtar Kul-Mukhammed, which must have surprised organizers who had been expecting, and announcing, a return next year to Almata.

Organization was occasionally patchy, especially on the translation front, but audiences were strong, most notably in the short film sidebar program. Best short award went to "113th" by young Kazakh helmer Talgat Bektyrsynov.

On the home front, Kazakhstan is the dominant player in the region, with a healthily developing film infrastructure, and number of cinema admissions in 2007 up by more than 50%, to around 6.5 million, over the previous year.




Gibelã Otrara / THE FALL OF OTRAR
Kazakhstan 1990
Direction: Ardak Amirkulov. Screenplay: Svetlana Karmalita, Aleksei German. Cinematography: Saparbek Koitchumanov, Aubakir Suleev. Editing: A. Kistauovoi. Sound: A. Baigarina, Gulsara Muchataeva, Olga Vagina. Music: Kuat Shildebaev. Sets: Umirzak Shmanov, Alaksandr Rorokin. Costumes: Liudmila Trachtenberg. Cast: Bolot beishenaliyev, Dochdurbek Kydyralev, Tungyshbai Djamankulov, Sabira Ataeva, Ali Tuchuzev, Abdurashid Machsudov. Production: Kazakhfilm Studio.
35mm B&W-Color 165min

A strange and fascinating historical epic set in the 13th century, filmed in sepia tones which underscore the landscapes and atmosphere of another world. In eastern Asia, the Mongol leader Genghis Khan is expanding his empire, devouring the continent city by city. As he approaches Muslim Central Asia, he encounters minimal resistance from most of the local leaders, until he reaches the small city of Otrar, in the kingdom of Kipchaks, governed by the fierce and proud Kairkhan.


The Fall of Otrar

[Гибель Отрара]

film still

Kazakhstan, 1991. 165 min. Sepia tinted black-and-white with occasional color.
In Kazakh, Mongolian, and Mandarin with English subtitles.
Directed: Ardak Amirkulov.
Written: Svetlana Karmalita and Aleksei German.
Camera: Saparbek Koichumanov, with assistance from Aubakira Suleeva.
Art direction: Umirzak Shmanov and Aleksandr Rorokin.
Music: Kuat Shil'debaev.
With: Bolot Beishenaliev, Dogdurbek Kydyraliev, Tungyshbai Dzhamankulov, Sabira Ataeva, Kasim Zhakibaev.
Awards: FIPRESSI Prize (Locarno, 1991)

The film is set in Central Asia in the early 13th century, when the region was united as a loose coalition of city fortresses and ruled by Shah Mukkhamed, the emir of the ancient and powerful Muslim state of Khorezm (Khwarazm), which had recently gained independence from the Arabs and Turks in the west–that is, in Baghdad. Mukkhamed's obsession with Western dangers to his empire blinds him to the more pressing threat from the east: Genghis Khan and the Mongol army, which conquered Khorezm in 1221. While all of the major cities of Khorezm (Bukhara, Taraz, etc.) fell to the Mongols within a matter of days, the city of Otrar managed to hold out for almost six months before finally surrendering.

film still

Otrar is divided into two parts. The first part focuses on Unzhukhan, a member of the nomadic tribe of Kipchaks, who was sent seven years ago by Kairhkhan, the ruler of Otrar, to work alongside of the Mongols as a scout and to spy on them. Unzhu returns to Otrar in order to warn Mukkhamed and Kairkhan that Genghis Khan is about to turn his armies away from China and invade Khorezm. His warnings, however, about Genghis Khan's spies in the city (Russian merchants) and invasion plans, are ignored, and Unzhu, who calls himself "The Arrow of Allah," is subjected to a series of tortures and tests to break his spirit and ascertain his allegiance. Over Kairkhan's carefully crafted objections, Mukkhamed decides to send his armies against Baghdad.

The second part of the film occurs after Mukkhamed's army has been destroyed in the Baghdad campaign, leaving Khorezm vulnerable to Genghis Khan's armies. The focus in this part shifts to Kairkhan, who must undertake a defense of Otrar against the ever-growing onslaught of the Mongol armies, which manage to cut off and isolate the city. Despite Unzhu's heroic assistance, Kairkhan is unable to break the siege and the city eventually falls. Kairkhan's execution is both brutal and honorific: Genghis Khan orders that his face be turned into a mask of pure silver.

Amirkulov shot Kairkhan's death as a tribute to Andrei Tarkovskii's film Andrei Rublev (1966), quoting at once two famous sequences in the film: the Mongols' execution of a deacon by pouring molten lead down his throat; and the casting of the enormous church bell, the scene that closes the film. Otrar is filled with many other visual citations, ranging from Akira Kurosawa's samurai films–especially The Red Beard (1965) and Kagemusha (1980)–to Sergeo Leone's spaghetti Westerns.

Perhaps the most striking feature of Amirkulov's historical epic is his consistent avoidance of broad, sweeping, external shots so characteristic of the genre. The film is ruled by its claustrophobia: the long interior shots of cramped cells and living quarters, narrow corridors and passageways between buildings, interiors of tents and the closeness of bodies around campfires. Even when the action moves into the emir's huge reception hall or the streets of the city, Amirkulov relies primarily on tightly cropped compositions and mid-range to close-up shots to block out everything that deflects from the increase in dramatic tension.

In a similar way, most of the film is dominated by darkness and shadows. Many of the film's interior shots are illuminated by candles and torchlight, which cast elaborate patterns of gray tones across everything on the screen. Even when the sun serves as the source of illumination, its intense brightness is blinding, further deepening the darkness that threatens to overcome the film images, just as Genghis Khan is threatening to extinguish the civilization of Khorezm.

The original screenplay for The Fall of Otrar was written in Russian by film director Aleksei German and his wife, Svetlana Karmalita, in the mid-1980s, when all but one of German's films had been shelved in the former Soviet Union. The screenplay was published in the film journal Iskusstvo kino: 1 (1990): 138-163 and 2 (1990): 129-162.

Ardak Amirkulov

Ardak Amirkulov (left) and artistic director Umirzak Shmanov

Ardak Amirkulov (left) with
artistic director Umirzak Shmanov

Ardak Amirkulov was born in 1955 and graduated from the Philology Department of Kazakh State University. In 1981 he enrolled in the director courses at Kazakhfil'm Studios. His short film The Hunter was his diploma film. In 1984 he was accepted into Sergei Solov'ev's master class at the State Institute for Filmmaking (VGIK). Amirkulov's second short film, Tactical War Games on Broken Terrain, was his graduation film. He served as the director of Kazakhfil'm Studios from 1994 until 1997. From 1997-2001 Amirkulov ran a master class for directors of feature films at the Kazakh Academy of Arts named for T. Zhurgenov.

1981 The Hunter (short)
1986 Tactical War Games on Broken Terrain (short)
1991 The Fall of Otrar
1995 Abai
1998 1997. Rustem's Notes





Her yıl Kazakistan, Almatı’da düzenlenen ve Orta Asya’nın en büyük film festival forumu olarak görülen Uluslararası Avrasya Film Festivali, başkent oluşunun 10. yılı olması hasebiyle 07-13 Eylül tarihleri arasında Astana’da düzenlendi. ‘Başşehir’ anlamına gelen ve İstanbul’un eski isimlerinden olan Asitane’ye de kaynaklık ettiğini düşündüğümüz Astana, Kazakistan’ın kuzey düzlüklerinde kurulmuş olan ve biraz daha kuzeyinden başlayan Sibirya rüzgarlarını ciğerlerinize kadar hissettiğiniz, yüksek veya çok yeni düzgün binalarıyla küçük bir Amerika şehrini andıran bir kent.

Dünyanın farklı coğrafyalarından değişik yapımların doldurduğu festivalin, bu yeni kurulmuş şehre farklı bir renk getirdiği ve seyircilerin tıklım tıklım doldurduğu sinema salonlarıyla sinemanın görkemli yıllarını hatırlatan bir haftaya damgasını vurduğu söylenebilir. Bir yandan Ramazan ayının verdiği mana iştiyakı, diğer yandan bu ‘uzak’ coğrafyada hissedilen kısmi mana solgunluğu arasındaki karmaşık hislerle, sinemanın o renkli dünyasına dalarak, özellikle Orta Asya sinemasının verimleri arasında bir seyahate çıktık.


Orta Asya Filmlerinin Dünyada Dağıtımı ve Milli Sinema Ne Anlama Gelir? başlıklı iki de yuvarlak masa toplantısının yer aldığı festivalde, Kırgız ve Kazak sinemalarının çalışmaları öne çıkıyordu. Bir Rus yönetmen olan Sergey Bodrov’a yaptırılan ve Nazarbayev başkanlığındaki Kazakistan devletinin büyük bir yatırım yaptığı ama dünyada da ses getiren yapımlar olan Göçer ve Cengiz Han’dan sonra bu kez de özellikle Türk dünyasında bir gövde gösterisine dönüşecek olan bir başka yapım daha dikkat çekiyordu. Rusya hegemonyası altına girme sürecinde karşı mücadelede bulunan Türkistan’ın milli kahramanlarından Mustafa Şokay’ın hayatından uyarlanan Mustafa Şokay, 1900’lerin başlarından 1941’de Almanya’daki ölümüne kadar olan süreci işleyen film, tarihi dönemi yansıtmadaki olgunluğu ve kostüm, dekor ve mekan çalışmasındaki incelikle dönem filmi atmosferini oldukça güçlü yansıtıyordu. Yönetmen Satıbaldı Nerimbetov’un elinden çıkan film, büyük dünya güçleri arasındaki çekişmeye sahne olan Türkistan’ın büyük acısını perdeye taşıyordu.


Kırgız sinemasından dikkat çeken ve Kırgız Film’in geçen sene çektirdiği tek film olan Temir Birnazarov’un yönettiği ve Jüri Özel Ödülü’nü kazanan Umut Yolu ise tek mekanda geçen ancak sıkı tasvirci yapısıyla dikkat çekiyordu. Mustafa Kutlu’nun Mavi Kuş adlı uzun hikayesini andırır cinsten, koyu sisli bir akşamüstü köylerine gitmek üzere önden manivelayla çalışan eski bir otobüsteki birbirinden renkli mizaca sahip insanların karakter yapılarını, değişik yüzlerini, farklı etkiler karşısında sergiledikleri tepkileri ince mizahi bir yönde çiziyor ama kimi zaman da ciddi bir şekilde düşündürüyordu. Filmde eski komünisti ve demokratıyla siyasi; bir hoca ve Hıristiyanlık propagandası yapan gençle dini; ayyaşı, menfaatçisi, işbiliriyle toplumsal; polisiyle adli; tatbikatla askeri ve diğer tiplemeleriyle ailevi ve kültürel bağlamlarda bir Fars ve ironi karşımıza çıkıyordu.

Festivalin büyük ödülünü kazanan film ise bu sene kaybettiğimiz ünlü yazar Cengiz Aytmatov’un aynı adlı eserinden uyarlanan Elveda Gülsarı! oldu. Otrar’ın Düşüşü filmiyle çıkış yapan ünlü Kazak yönetmen Ardak Amirkulov’un filmi, dış mekanlardaki temiz kamera çalışmasıyla meydana gelen fotoğraflarla göz doldururken, filmin seyircide bıraktığı duygu ve ruh izdüşümüyle, 1968’de ünlü kameraman Sergey Urusevski’nin yine çok dolgun imgeleri, üstelik psikolojik bir deyişe dönüşen renk bozundurmalarına göre biraz daha geride bile kalıyordu. En İyi Kısa Film Ödülü’nü 113. filmiyle Kazak Timur Bektirsinov’un aldığını belirttikten sonra, İstanbul’da, şubatta bir Orta Asya Sinema Günleri’nin düzenleneceğini haber verelim.

Rusya hegemonyası altına girme sürecinde karşı mücadele eden Mustafa Şokay’ın hayatından uyarlanan Mustafa Şokay Türkistan’ın büyük acısını perdeye taşıyordu






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