Chouga / Shuga Series: 46th New York Film Festival [Sept. 26 – Oct. 12, 2008] Director: Darezhan Omirbaev, Country: France/Kazakhstan, Release: 2007, Runtime: 88m
Kazakh master Darezhan Omirbaev’s new film is about a well-to-do woman named Chouga (Ainur Turgambaeva, in a quietly compelling performance) who leaves her callous husband and beloved son for a charismatic, but equally callous, younger man named Ablai. The woman Ablai has courted and forsaken attempts suicide, and after her recovery she marries another suitor, the more reliable Tiburon. Sound familiar?
That’s because this poetically compressed 91-minute film is based on Anna Karenina. Omirbaev doesn’t so much adapt Tolstoy’s novel as use its basic situation as a means of examining the new, consumerist Kazakhstan, where the lights are getting brighter, bank accounts are getting fatter, and women are being passed around like playthings.
In this razor-sharp film, one perfectly framed embrace between Chouga and her son conveys the limitless love between them, and a cut from a popping champagne cork to a fireworks display embodies a wealth of passion.
Preceded by Gauge: A shotgun rite of passage.
Alistair Banks Griffin, USA, 2008; 9m.
b. 1958, Uyuk, Djambul, Kazakhstan
2006 Digital Sam in Sam Saek 2006: Talk to Her (segment: About Love)
2001 The Road