Director: Adilkhan Yerzhanov, Writers: Adilkhan Yerzhanov, Producers: Almat Masalim, Serik Abishev and Olga Khlasheva, Production: Arizona Productions, Short Brothers, Melodrama Pictures, with the support of KazakhFilm & Aide aux Cinémas du Monde (CNC/IF) Producer: Guillaume de Seille, Olga Khlasheva, Kazakhstan/France, Language: Russian and Kazakh (French and Eng. subs), 2022, 90′, Rights: World
Ademoka (Adema Yerzhanova) is a headstrong and gifted 15-year-old girl whose big dream is to study. Her status as Lyuli an illegal immigrant from Tajikistan is a serious obstacle to this. She is exploited by her extended family and forced to beg on the streets, she manages to free herself from the family, when they get deported she has to choose between family and education. She gets helped on the way by some oddball characters, who come to her aid against the corrupt system and the patriarchal family.
She gets a chance to get an education and is helped by the least likely person to help her: Ahab played by Daniyar Alshinov (A Dark, Dark Man, Atbai’s Fight, Ulbolsyn and Onbagandar), a philosophy teacher, a drunkard and a loser, whose love for literature and philosophy gives Ademola an opportunity to realise her dreams.
The Twelfth feature film by Adilkhan Yerzhanov sheds light on a little-known Roma population in Central Asia the Lyuli or as they prefer to call themselves the Mughat, an Iranian term meaning “fire cult followers. A small community that lives on the margins of society, is often discriminated against because of their ethnicity, and their children are excluded from education as artist and activist Aleksandr Barkovsky says “There is an unspoken consensus that education is unattainable and partially not needed. The reasons for this lie on both sides, as the Roma people maintain patriarchal traditions… Most people think that as the Lyuli choose not to pursue education, giving them a chance to study and learn different skills is meaningless. “
“This film is a story of friendship, mutual support and humanity. It is about the inalienable right of every person to be educated. Humankind strives for knowledge, and in this, there is its salvation.”
Born in 1982 in Djekazgan in Kazakhstan, Adilkhan Yerzhanov studies at the Academy of national arts from where he graduated in 2009 in cinema production. After three remarkable short films, he directs several feature films: REALTORS (2011) is presented in international competition at the Dubai Festivals, Almaty and Porto Alegre. He gets the Prize
special jury in Kinoshock (Anapa) and St. Petersburg, the Grand Prix in Seoul and in Kinolikbek. He won the Kulager, Prix du
best Kazakh first film. CONSTRUCTORS is presented in competition in Wiesbaden then in Edinburgh in
2013. OWNERS is invited to a special session of the Official Selection of the Cannes Film Festival
in 2014 then obtained the Free Spirit Prize at Warsaw, a special mention at the Festival of Chicago, the NETPAC Prize at the
Beirut and the Special Jury Prize in Minsk. THE PLAGUE OF THE VILLAGE OF KARATAS is invited to Rotterdam in 2016 where he obtained the NETPAC Prize then in Sochi where he obtains the Grand Prix. NIGHT GOD is presented in competition at Moscow Festival in 2018. THE GENTLE INDIFFERENCE OF THE WORLD is presented in the Official Selection of the Festival of Cannes, Un Certain Regard in 2018. ATBAI’S FIGHT is presented in competition in Warsaw in 2019 then in Friborg in March 2020. A DARK, DARK MAN is presented in San Sebastián Festival competition
in 2019 and received the Best achievement at the Asia pacific screen awards 2019. YELLOW CAT and Ulbolsyn are recent films and he has two more films in post-production.