This monograph traces the history of Kazakh filmmaking from its conception as a Soviet cultural construction project to its peak as fully-fledged national cinema to its eventual re-imagining as an art-house phenomenon. The author’s analysis places leading directors—Shaken Aimanov, Abdulla Karsakbaev, Sultan-Akhmet Khodzhikov, Mazhit Begalin—in their sociopolitical and cultural context.
Peter Rollberg is professor of Slavic Languages, film studies, and international affairs at George Washington University.
Chapter 1: The First and Second Birth of Kazakhstani Cinema
Chapter 2: Heroic Interlude in Alma-Ata
Chapter 3: The Third Birth
Chapter 4: The Mid-1950s: A Cautious Emancipation
Chapter 5: En Route to Complexity I: Capturing the Present
Chapter 6: En Route to Complexity II: Capturing the Past
Chapter 7: The Searchings of Shaken Aimanov
Chapter 8: Hits and Anti-Hits
Chapter 9: The New Status Quo
Chapter 10: State Cinema and Its Subversion
Chapter 11: Crisis and Reconstruction
Chapter 12: From Perestroika to Katastroika
Peter Rollberg’s history of Kazakh cinema, covering the period from its emergence in the 1920s to the country’s independence the 1990s, is not only the first comprehensive account of film art in Soviet Kazakhstan, but also a truly monumental and detailed survey of the stories on and behind the silver screen, the studio’s relationship with the center, and the appeal of various narratives to the audiences at home and across the Soviet land. Rollberg pays attention not only to the well-known names and films, but also to lesser-known topics such as children’s and youth films, professional training, and the peculiar role of Alma-Ata during WWII, when the country’s major studios and filmmakers were evacuated there. This book will make a fabulous companion and reference guide to Soviet Kazakh cinema.
This comprehensive and original work is certainly the most important study on Kazakh cinema in the English language. Drawing on deep personal interest and utilizing a sociopolitical lens, Rollberg examines themes of national identity and memory, aesthetics and artistic creation, and the role of viewers in shaping the history of Kazakh film. Rollberg masterfully explicates Kazakhstan’s complicated relationship with Moscow, highlights Central Asia’s unique contributions to film history, and re-affirms Shaken Aimanov as the hero of Kazakh cinema.
Peter Rollberg's book fills a double gap. To his meticulous analysis of a filmography that is too-little known, he adds an enlightening look at the singular relationships maintained by this republic, a strategic bridge between Russia and Central Asia, throughout the history of the USSR. By observing the development of the seventh art in a concrete peripheral republic, this book enriches our knowledge of the relationship between center and periphery and allows us to better understand how national identities were forged within the Soviet ideological system.