Romantic Kazakh epic film aims to woo the young

Mon Oct 10, 2011 12:35pm EDT
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By Natasha Elkington

ALMATY (Reuters) - The biggest film to come out of Kazakhstan in a decade aims to get the country's younger generation excited about its ancestry and history.

"Myn Bala" (meaning 'a thousand boys' in Kazakh), tells the tale of 18th century Kazakh legend Sartay with a budget of just $10 million.

An orphaned young warrior who faces battle, betrayal and first-time love, Sartay has to rally troops to fight fearsome Mongol warriors known as the Dzhungars, who are descended from Genghis Khan.

"The main thing for me is that the young generation should know the cost that our ancestors paid for our current independence and our freedom," the film's director Akan Satayev told Reuters at the Kazakhfilm studios in Almaty.

Exploring the history of the world's ninth largest country, Myn Bala was shot in more than eight different locations around the Tien-Shan mountains which form the southern edge of the Kazakh Steppe.

The changeable weather of the mountains proved even more challenging than the feat of directing battle scenes with up to a thousand people, Satayev said.

Meticulous research went into creating a film which depicts the battle of Anyrakay in 1729, where the Kazakhs finally defeat the Dzhungars and take control of their land for the first time in their history.

"Cinema is a myth-making industry and although we focus on the accuracy of the historical background the main thing for us is the legend - Sartay, the legendary hero," said Ermek Amanshayev, head of Kazakhfilm which funded the project, and the man usually associated with saving the local film industry in the post-Soviet era.   Continued...

<p>Legendary hero Sartay (R) (Asylkhan Tolepov) sits with his beloved Zere (Aliya Telebarisova) near the Big Almaty Lake in the Tian Shan Mountains where the film Myn Bala was shot in this June 2011 handout photo. REUTERS/New Film Format/Handout</p>