Acclaimed Kazakh films Shal (released in 2012) and Harmony Lessons (2013) received awards at the 32nd annual Fajr Film Festival in Tehran, which was held from Feb. 1 to Feb. 11.
Yermek Tursunov’s Shal was honoured for its outstanding technical and artistic achievement.
Yerbolat Toguzakov, who starred as the main character, personally presented the feature to the Iranian public and the judges.
The film has already been awarded the Grand Prix of the Kinoshock Open Film Festival of the Commonwealth of Independent States, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia that ended on Sept. 23. The movie’s leading actor Toguzakov was also awarded that festival’s Best Actor award.
The feature has been submitted to the Oscars this year for consideration in the Best Foreign Language Film category and praised by critics who described the feature as “a survival story: The Hemingway’s ‘Old Man and the Sea’ of our times.”
The other feature, Harmony Lessons, directed by Emir Baigazin, was given the Judges’ Special Award in Tehran.
Ironically, both features were about survival. “Harmony Lessons is a film about survival,” director Emir Baigazin said. “For me, the inner human struggle is important; a struggle between a predator and a being of a higher order,” he noted.
The drama premiered at the 63rd Berlin International Film Festival in 2013; critics reviewed it very positively.
“In this insightful Kazakh film, symbolism and striking cinematography help us navigate the complicated landscape of a teenager’s mind after the collapse of the Soviet bloc. Emir Baigazin wrote, edited and directed this fascinating Darwinist first feature, which, through his still shots, reminds us of Bresson and the best parts of the Japanese film Noir,” Frédéric Boyer said at the Tribeca Film Festival last year.
Fajr international Film Festival is an annual event hosted by Iran’s capital Tehran every February. The tradition began in 1982 and is put on by the Iranian Ministry of Culture abd Islamic Gudance.