ASTANA – A 23-minute documentary portraying difficulties Kazakh immigrants face working as truck drivers in the U.S. was released on Nov. 17, 2015 by Director Kanat Beisekeyev on his personal Youtube channel and immediately drew the attention of Kazakh social media users. Some have experienced the same, while others were curious what the immigrant life can be like in the U.S. Still others criticised the film’s characters for leaving their homeland.
The plot revolves around seven-year immigrant Nurlan Kozhakhmetov who Beisekeyev met in a New York bar in August 2015, where the idea to shoot the short documentary was conceived.
Beisekeyev then embarked on a two-week trip with Kozhakhmetov to film his documentary, where he would meet other Kazakh immigrants – truck drivers.
While recounting the main challenges of immigrant lives, one of the main characters in the film, Nurbek Khassen, said driving a truck in the U.S. offers opportunities to see many U.S. cities, meet a variety of people and learn different accents and street slang. He said Kazakh immigrants can make a living working as truck drivers without higher education and earn the same money as “an average American and sometimes even more.”
The documentary, while focused on the profession, was also meant to describe the lives “of Kazakh immigrants in general who are in pursuit of happiness on the roads of America. In spite of them being so far away from their homes, they still hear the dearest music in their souls,” Beisekeyev wrote on his Youtube Chanel. However, during almost the entire short film, the viewers are shown the difficulties of being a truck driver in the U.S. On top of that, every truck driver in the film admits that this is a temporary job and they’re dreaming of changing their profession in the future.
“All of these guys still have their small and big goals,” Beisekeyev said in one of his letters to local media. “All of them are tied to their homeland and are homesick.” According to Beisekeyev, “all of them, without exception, send a quarter of their salaries to their relatives in Kazakhstan, saying ‘no’ to their own comfort,” – some even live in their trucks to save on rent.