Director: Adilkhan Yerzhanov, Writer: Adilkhan Yerzhanov, Production: Sunny Production, Short Brothers, Arizona Productions, General Producer: Assel Sadvakassova, Associate Producer: Philip Cheah, Producer: Serik Abishev, Olga Khlasheva Kazakhstan/France, Language: Russian and Kazakh, 2020, 71′ (soon available as series), Rights: World

Strong-willed and determined Ulbolsyn lives in the city. Her younger sister Azhar is going to graduate from school in the village of Karatas. Life in Karatas Village runs along an untroubled path until its patriarchal way of life is challenged by Ulbolsyn, a woman whose cold-blooded heart and blazing temperament are not afraid of setting everything on fire. Ulbolsyn has big plans for the future of her beloved sister – she saved enough money so that Azhar could enter a prestigious foreign university, which would allow her to make a good career and become free and independent. However, when Ulbolsyn comes to Karatas for Azhar, she discovers that the girl was kidnapped by the local healer Urgen, a highly respected person in the village. He is going to make Azhar his ‘tokal’ – a second wife. A practice that has both the negative connotation of a morally reprehensible practice and a common association with wealth.

But Ulbolsyn does not intend to leave it this way, and she decisively enters the struggle with the patriarchal world of Karatas.


“The latest film from the prolific Kazakh director Adilkhan Yerzhanov (A Dark, Dark Man, The Gentle Indifference Of The World) is a briskly economic drama which draws multiple battle lines: between the city and the country; tradition and modernity; the patriarchy and one doggedly relentless woman, Ulbolsyn (the steely Assel Sadvakassova)… Ulbolsyn, which was awarded the main Cinelink work in progress prize at Sarajevo, represents both a foray into genre filmmaking for Yerzhanov and a commentary on the obstacles standing in the way of female emancipation in Kazakhstan.” BLACK NIGHTS FILM FESTIVAL

“Ulbolsyn” is a masterfully precise film, the rhythm and style of which boldly break their way through mediocrity and achieve a dazzling result using minimalist tools.

Elise Eimre Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema (NETPAC) Award

Assel Sadvakassova Ulbolsyn 

Dinara Sagi as Azhar 

Yerbolat Alkozha as Urgen 

Berik Aitzhanov as Darik

Daniyar Alshinov as Bekzat

Sanjar Madi as SWAT Team Captian

Directors Bio

Born in 1982 in Djekazgan in Kazakhstan, Adilkhan Yerzhanov studies at the Academy 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.


Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival

2020 | Winner: NETPAC Award

Asian Film Awards

2021 | 2 nominations including: Best Actress

Hong Kong International Film Festival


Shanghai International Film Festival