Cinematic Landscapes of Adilkhan Yerzhanov


The Owners, a colorful and original film by the Kazakh director Adilkhan Yerzhanov, prompted an interesting workshop after the screening. The author spoke about his views of the language of cinematography:

“Cinema is always a deception. You sign a contract with your audience in the very beginning. You are not hiding your techniques and you are not trying to imitate reality. When you set things up like this, it is easier to get the sincerity across.”

Asked about his formative years, Yerzhanov spoke about his growing up in the 1990s following the breakup of the Soviet Union:

“Sometimes we used to move 3-4 times a year and over five years like this… During those five years of my childhood, I experienced much more than many people. But what you experience does not matter unless you find a way to express it… In those troubled times, I found solace in comics which I drew myself. Sometimes, I used to draw plots which were rather gruesome but, at the same time, I used those naïve techniques with many colors.”

Yerzhanov also shared his experience regarding his choice of actors and non-actors as well as of the unusual rural setting and the dress-code in which “every piece of clothing had a purpose”. Talking about his work with actors, he said that “it is very important for actors to understand what I want”, adding that “sometimes, we would sit for hours trying to understand it”.

With a keen eye for his immediate surroundings, the Kazakh director explained the importance of landscapes in his films:

“Choosing a landscape is very important. For example, the mountains you saw in the film are curved so it affects the entire film. Mountains here are completely different so I would have to a completely different film. This is probably why some directors shoot films in one country only… I am not a specialist for other cultures. I work with what I have.”

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