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Kazakhstan film festival promises surprises
Hollywood stars arrive in Astana
By Jamila Kerimova
ASTANA –Timur Bekmambetov, Mike Tyson, Mickey Rourke, Dolph Lundgren, Hilary Swank and Sharlto Copley came together for the first Astana International Action Film Festival.
World-renowned stars, film buffs and journalists are in Astana to view screenings and show off their wardrobes. For many, this is their first visit to Kazakhstan.
“Everything is just like it is on Hollywood television – even the red carpet!” said Elvira Kasimova, 26, who came to see the new films. Kasimova said she hopes to get a photograph with Bekmambetov. “He is our pride! He makes such good films”.
The festival runs June 27-July 1, corresponding with the start of celebrations for Astana Day (July 6).
One of the first stars to arrive was Tyson, the boxer, who brought his 2008 film biography, “Tyson” (which he co-produced), with him. It was to be shown late June 29. His colleague Lundgren brought the film that he directed, “Command Performance”.
The day before June 28’s official opening, Astana Mayor Imangali Tasmagambetov invited the stars to the Borovoe Reserve. There they met Kazakhs living in white yurts and watched a demonstration of traditional weapons. Tyson picked up a sword and uttered a few martial cries.
The last day of the festival will be dedicated to showing projects by young filmmakers.
“The films will not be competing here”, Bekmambetov said. “Over a period of four days, agents, producers and investors will work with young writers. They will begin selecting their ideas and concepts for new films. We are doing our all so that next year the audience can see films that come from here”.
“During the festival, we will have a roundtable discussion on our plans on how to make films”, he added. “Nowadays, computer graphics, which allow you to create new pictures, have begun to play an increasingly important role in cinema. The resounding success of ‘Avatar’ last year demonstrated where the future of cinema lies and the direction we need to move in”.
The festival will be showing approximately 20 feature-length films. Among them will be the German film “Max Schmeling” (a world premiere); the Chinese film “True Legend”; the Russian film “Close Enemy”; the British film “Monsters”; and the American films “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse”, “Despicable Me” and “The Karate Kid”.
The organisers plan to develop Kazakhstan’s film industry, making the festival an annual event and holding it in different cities each year.
“Not many people know about Kazakhstan in the US, and we want to open the eyes of some of our planet’s inhabitants to your wonderful country through this festival”, said Mike Simpson, a film producer at William Morris Agency who dreamed up the festival with Bekmambetov. “This is a good excuse to draw the attention of world cinema to Kazakhstan’s capital since countries need to know each other in the developing world”.
He advised young film directors to post their films on YouTube, where they can find an audience.
The festival opened with Mikael Hafstrom’s historical drama “Shanghai”.
“The film is remarkable, just like everything at the festival”, said Aijan Gadzhiyeva, a festivalgoer. “It is so nice to feel the atmosphere that prevails in Cannes and Milan. After all, we only got to read about this in magazines”.
Bekmambetov predicted the festival will become a tradition and will help reveal Kazakhstan’s talents to the world. “The most important thing is to be sincere”, he said.