External news in brief

Sergei Dvortsevoy’s “Ayka” was revealed to be on the short list for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar when the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced the contenders for nine categories of the 91st Academy Awards, scheduled for Feb. 25. “Ayka” is a drama about a young Kyrgyz woman, living and working illegally in Moscow, who is forced to abandon her newborn child. Kazakh actress Samal Yeslyamova starred as the young female protagonist of “Ayka” and won Cannes’s Best Actress award this year. The other eight features on the short list include “Birds of Passage” (Columbia), “The Guilty” (Denmark), “Never Look Away” (Germany), “Shoplifters” (Japan), “Capernaum” (Lebanon), “Roma” (Mexico), “Cold War” (Poland) and “Burning” (South Korea).

Stockholm hosted a seven-day exhibition, “At Nomads’ Home,” displaying Kazakh culture and traditions. The Kazakh Youth Association in Sweden, which organised the event, sought to familiarise the Swedish people with Kazakhstan. Visitors had a chance to see national clothing, traditional house items and musical instruments, try Kazakh national cuisine and also tour a photo exhibition. Some exhibits were handmade by members of the association and most were given by members of the Kazakh diaspora living in Westeros, some 100 kilometres from Stockholm and home to nearly 300 Kazakhs who relocated to Sweden from Turkey in the 1970s. “They treat Kazakh culture with much care; it is from them that we took traditional handmade blankets, national gowns and many other items,” said Kazakh Youth Association head Aidana Bekbergenova.

The Astana Opera is touring Italy and Spain during the New Year holidays, presenting Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s masterpieces “The Nutcracker” and “Swan Lake.” The European tour started Dec. 20 at Genoa’s old opera house, Teatro Carlo Felice, and will run through Jan. 13 with a final performance at the Genoa Opera House. The troupe will also perform at Valencia’s Queen Sofia Palace of the Arts (Palau de Les Arts Reina Sofía) at the invitation of world renowned opera singer Plácido Domingo. Astana Opera art director Altynai Assylmuratova noted the growing interest in Kazakh ballet around the world. “Of course, we are all anxious and worried. We have a big task so that the audience will enjoy and get an emotional recharge. We will do our best,” said Assylmuratova.

Berlin hosted the 25th anniversary meeting of the Berlin Eurasian Club (BEC) with the theme “Legal and Economic Status of the Caspian Sea: Prospects of Cooperation of Europe with the Region.” The meeting gathered a Kazakh delegation; Executive Director of the German Committee on Eastern European Economic Relations Michael Harms; Kazakh-German Business Council for Strategic Cooperation Chair Peter Tils and more than 100 representatives of German businesses.  The gathering explored investment, logistics and energy cooperation among the Caspian littoral states in the context of the convention adopted at the Fifth Caspian Summit in August in Aktau and noted the strategic role of the Caspian Sea due to its location and natural resources. The next BEC meeting is scheduled in Astana in April 2019 and will focus on the Astana International Financial Centre.

South Korea and Kazakhstan will reach the end of 2018 with a record trade turnover of nearly $3 billion. Last year, trade between the two countries came to $1.7 billion. “We expect the figure is final. We are preparing for next year. We believe it will be equally successful. I would say expectations are even higher, as we expect the official visit of President Moon Jae-in to Kazakhstan,” said Kazakh Ambassador to Korea Bakyt Dyusenbayev. The meeting of the Kazakh-Korean business council and intergovernmental commission on economic cooperation is scheduled for the beginning of next year, he added.

The unique cultural heritage of the Great Steppe was the focus during the “Kazakh Culture in the Global World” international forum of poets, publishers and musicians in New York, giving American artists a chance to learn about Kazakh history, culture and literature. “We are recognised internationally as an independent and sovereign nation, but we still remain a mystery. Our roots go back centuries. We should make the world know about them,” said Kazakh poet and Honoured Artist of Kazakhstan Shomishbai Sariyev. New York is the fourth city to host the forum after Seoul, London and Berlin. “Kazakhstan does not stop surprising. This is yet another wonderful event and friendly meeting. Many said Kazakhstan has gone beyond local and become a global example. How 100 ethnicities could live all together in one country! This is absolutely a unique example. The speech by a philology professor about your transition to the Latin script was interesting,” said professor and publisher Leonid Goldin.