Darezhan Omirbaev’s 8th feature “Student” is in “Un Certain Regard” section at 65th Cannes Film Festival. This is the third Cannes participation for the Kazakh master. In 1998, his film “Killer” won “Prix Un Certain Regard”, in 2001 he again participated in this section with his feature “Zhol” (’The Road”).
The film is based on “Crime and Punishment” by Fyodor Dostoevsky. Action takes place in modern Kazakhstan. The film’s protagonist is The Student whose major at the university is philosophy. He rents a basement room from an old woman living in the suburbs and suffers from a permanent lack of money and loneliness. The Student is stressed by the surrounding atmosphere of poverty and the ideology of total survival competition, the division of people into rich and poor, strong and weak… Influenced by all these, The Student decides to rob the nearest convenience store where he buys some bread time to time…
Production: ‘Kazakhfilm’ JSCCrew:Director: Darezhan Omirbayev Screenwriter: Darezhan Omirbayev DOP: Boris Troshev Composer: Baurzhan Kuanyshev Sound editor: Ilya Biserov Executive producer: Limara Zheksembayeva
Cast: The Student – Nurlan Baitasov Saniya – Maya Serikbayeva The Poet – Edige Bolysbayev Student’s Mother – Bakhytzhan Turdaliyeva 1st University lecturer – Aruzhan Sain 2nd University lecturer – Amangeldy Aitaly The Actress – Asel Sagatova The Film Director -Darezhan Omirbayev
Darezhan Omirbaev was born in Kazakhstan, Dzhambul (current Taraz) city, on March, 15 of 1958. In 1980 graduated from Kazakh State University, major – maths. In 1987 graduated from VGIK in Moscow, Russia, major – film history. Has worked as an editor at “New Film" magazine, and also as Editor-in-Chief at “Film Fan "magazine.
Currently a lecturer at Kazakh Academy of Arts .
Was awarded with “Kurmet” award (Kazakhstan), “Commander of the Order of Arts and Literature” ( France).
2007 – “Chouga” (90 minutes), feature , co-production of “Kazakhfilm”, "Kadam” (Kazakhstan), “Artkam” (France).
- Eurasia International Film Festival (Kazakhstan), Jury Award
- Nantes International Festival (France) , Special Jury Award.
2006 – “About Love” (40 min.), feature , production of Jeonju Film Project (South Korea)
- International Film Festival (South Korea)
2001 – “Zhol” (90 min.), feature, co-production of "Kadam” (Kazakhstan), “Artkam” (France), “NHK” (Japan).
- Cannes Film Festival , “Un Certain Regard” (France)
- "Tarlan” (Kazakhstan) , “Platinum Tarlan” Award
1998 – “Killer” (75 min.), feature , co-production of "Kadam” (Kazakhstan), “Artkam” (France).
- Cannes Film Festival, “Un Certain Regard”, “Prix Un Certain Regard” Award
- Tehran International Film Festival (Iran) , “Best Screenplay” Award
- Nantes International Film Festival (France), Jury Award. .
- Venice International Film Festival (Italy), UNESCO Award
- Singapore International Film Festival, “Grand Prix” Award, “Best Asian Actress” ( Saule Toktybaeva)
- Honolulu International Film Festival (USA), Jury Award
1993 – “Job – Controller” (20 min.), documentary, production of “Kazakhfilm”
1991 – “Kairat” (65 min.), feature, production of “Kazakhfilm”
- Locarno International Film Festival (Switzerland), "Silver Leopard” Award and FIPRESCI Award
- Alsace International Film Festival (France), “Grand Prix” Award
- International Film Festival in Nantes (France), “Silver” Award
1988 – “Schilde” (25 min.), short feature, independent
Darezhan’s interview ’Killer Student", 07.05.2012, courtesy of ’MK Kazakhstan" newspaper, by Olga Khrabrykh, translation – Gulazhar Mashrapova..
Dostoevsky’s novel was called ’an encyclopaedia of Russian society of the 60s of 19th century”. Did you make it to create something similar about the modern Kazakh society?
This is to be judged by the viewers, not by me. I based my film on this novel not accidentally. Marcel Proust said once: “Dostoevsky’s style is a bit clumsy, but the power of his novels is in their compositional harmony and beauty”. And this beautiful composition came thanks to those problems and ideas that troubled Fyodor Mikhailovich. And plus, some prose is very keen to be filmed – and “Crime&Punishment” is among of such. I was impressed much by the sequence where Raskolnikov, having murdered the old X, forgets to shut the door and an accidental person steps in. Also, this novel has a social undertone which is very actual nowadays. The 60s of 19th century were the period of launching capitalism that bred the conflict in a Russian society. The reaction of young minds was quite harsh, and Dostoevsky made it to catch that zeitgeist. The same process is currently going on in modern Kazakhstan: there’s too big financial gap between people and that troubles the youth of Kazakhstan very much.
There’s a dream sequence in your film where the protagonist sees a donkey brutally killed by a rich guy. Is this an allusion to Raskolnikov’s dream about the horse or a metaphor of poor people exploited by the oligarchs?
This sequence was taken from the novel, but I changed the horse for the donkey because donkey’s more touching…maybe that was inspired by Bresson’s “Au Hasard Balthazar”. Regarding the metaphor, we can see it as the hint for the village inhabitants which are oppressed by the urban nouveau riche. In fact, the village is getting lost not only in Kazakhstan – it’s a global capitalistic tendency.. When Mikhail Gorbachev came to power, I was fully supporting “perestroika”, the changes. But later I witnessed us falling into opposite extremity, and, as usual, the truth is always in the middle. We do not need total capitalism.I do believe big business&finances should be controlled by the government,only small&medium business should be run by the privates. And we should save the village! Only by saving it we can save our language, our origin, and the ecology.
Why doesn’t The Student have a name?
Why would he? There’s no such moment in a film when someone calls him by his name. If you remember, in Tarkovsky’s “Mirror” the protagonist is also nameless, moreover, we cannot even see him on the screen.
Russian film critics say you are creating your own cinematic portrait in your films. Do you agree on this?
Well this is partly true, of course. Leo Tolstoy said once that at some point in future people probably stop writing fiction. Who believes in fantasies? Better to take a classic story that has passed the time test, and to put your own vision into it.
In one of your interviews you mentioned that modern filmmakers mostly target at teenagers, that we have very few films for 20-30-somethings. Do u think this category needs philosophic films?
We shouldn’t really think of the students as of shallow guys only seeking for entertainment… This is actually the time when person’s mind is awakening. I remember my own student times in the end of 70s, and I can say that was not an easy time for me: we were thinking, debating, reading a lot – reading Dostoevsky, as well. Later, when marriage&kids come, a person usually plunges into everyday routine, becomes a philistine, stops searching… That’s why I do believe the films about students should be of a serious attitude, they need to be interesting. We actually see only one part of the youth, full of cliches – night clubs, parties, MTV. And indeed only a small part of young people live like that. The searching person, the thinker is usually not easy to see – such person usually doesn’t show off…
Why are there dream sequences in almost all of your films?
The dreams for me is a key to person’s inner world. Almost in all Tarkovsky’s films there are dream sequences. Bunuel’s “Un Chien Andalou” is also half a dream, half reality. I like it, but that doesn’t mean I sleep much…
Why did you choose a cinematic style that doesn’t involve professional actors? Why do you refuse to shoot your films in sound stages?
There are only few directors that work in sound stages, actually – it’s easier to rent a premise though it costs more. I made ‘Killer” in a sound stage and came to conclusion there’s no atmosphere. The set designer made everything just fine, but the spirit of reality wasn’t there. As for the actors, I prefer to shoot real people, not the performances. Professional actors are good in theaters or realistic films – there are a lot of them currently. Recently in Almaty we had weeks of French and Japanese contemporary cinema – of course, these films are of a high professional level, but they are copying the everyday reality. There’s no auteur style in them, their auteur is life itself, not the master. I’m mostly interested in cinematic style, the art form that is different from life forms.
How do you choose the actors for the leading role – by physical resemblance?
Of course. I need to feel the person who fits the role by his/her inner content, and by the way he/she looks. I’m a lecturer at Kazakh Academy of Arts, and Nurlan Baitasov is my student from the documentaries faculty who seemed interesting to me. So I chose him for the role of Kazakh Raskolnikov.
Can you agree that a good filmmaker is making one and the same film for his whole lifetime?
Yes, as well as a good writer, or a good artist, who wants to keep his auteur style. He can progress, but not change totally! Though people say there were some Chinese artists that used to change their names and started everything from the very beginning.
You won numerous awards at the film festivals. How do you make it, get right into the target?
I have never made films specially for prestigious festivals. It’s just such a situation in cinema world that without PR films cannot reach the viewers, and film festivals is a good PR that gives opportunity to sell the film. There are so many various festivals now that we should call it “festival release”.
Can you share with us the idea of your next film?
Last year was a very difficult year for me… I lost my loved ones. Now I’m just planning to go to Cannes with my daughter, want to show France to her. I’m really very tired now and don’t have any power to think about anything…
Thanks a lot for this. Crime and Punishment has just been voted mubi users’ 2nd favourite book in the latest poll here, and i will be very interested to see the film- a pity it’s not in the Palme d’Or competition..Films rarely match great literature sources, but i trust Omirbaev to do a good job. There’s a 1970 Russian film version i want to see, admired by Apursansar and others here.
Thanks for the comprehensive look and translation Gulazhar.
Thank you for posting this! I hope I will get the chance to watch the film some day :P
i want to see this film!!!!!!!!!! ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥
thanks gulazhar! it was sad about his wife though…is that going to stop him making films for a while do you think?…….
My pleasure :)
@Sally: I hope so much that won’t stop him from making films, anyway…
Thanks for this, Gulazhar. I have updated the film’s page with some of the additional cast and crew info you have provided. Needless to say, I can’t wait to see it.
Good news, my friends. “Student” was picked up by German-based ’Media Luna” company for worldwide distribution.
Here’s the poster -
and trailer -
Big thank you Gulazhar. Like all people here, i m looking forward to watch it on screens in France soon.
Thank you, Gulazhar.
And here’s something I found which some people might be able to understand:
I’m sure Omirbayev will continue to make films. Maybe, Gogol up next? :D