THE ROAD TO MOTHER
Directed by: Akan Satayev
Produced by: Aliya Nazarbayeva
Written by: Timur Zhaksylykov
Starring: Altynai Nogherbek
130 Minutes TRT
World Wide Motion Pictures Corporation
Cast & Crew
Directed by: Akan Satayev
Produced by: Aliya Nazarbayev
Written by: Timur Zhaksylykov
Starring: Altynai Nogherbek
Edited by: Vitaliy Kirsanov
Composed by: Alim Zairov
Cinematography: Khasanbek Kydyraliyev
Language: Kazakh & Russian
(With English subtitles)
Awards & Festivals
Kazakhstan entry for Best Foreign Language Film at the 90th Academy Awards
Kazakhstan entry for Best Foreign Language Film at the 74th Golden Globes
International Moscow Film Festival (Russia) - June 2016 - Official Selection
Ak Ilbirs National Film Award (Kyrgyzstan) - April 2017 - Winner Best Central Asia Film
New York Eurasian Film Festival (USA) - June 2017 - Winner Best Feature Film
Eurasia International Film Festival (Kazakhstan) - July 2017 - Winner Tulpar Prize
Marco Polo Film Festival (Croatia) - August 2017 - Winner Best Film
Eurasian Bridge International Film Festival (Ukraine)- September 2017 - Winner Grand-Prix
Eurasian Bridge International Festival (Ukraine) - September 2017 - Altynay Nogerbek winner-Best Actress
WeLink International Film Festival (USA) - March 2018 - Winner Best Feature Film
Sheri Linden from The Hollywood Reporter stated in her recent feature article that the film was “eye-opening for many Western viewers,” and noted that the film “manages to connect its proud contemporary glimpses of a cosmopolitan, multicultural nation…”
Carmen Wong from Borrowing Tape stated, “What it does well, it knocks out of the park.” She also noted “from the color palette to framing to locations, in watching this film, it’s apparent that the look of this film is integral to what director, Akan Satayev, and cinematographer, Khassan Kydyraliev, are trying to convey.”
Film Snob Reviews stated that “If this is what Kazakh cinema is like, then give me more of it” and “From the majestic wide shots to the gritty war cinematography this is a lovely looking film.”
Double Feature Preachers stated that the film was, “well shot, well acted, and the story itself was great to watch.”
The Critical Critics stated, “Its sense of achievement is vicarious, complemented by gorgeous cinematography”
Spanning nearly nine decades from the 1930s to the present, this sweeping yet personal epic follows several generations of a Kazakh family through war, famine, collectivization, separation and the determination of the clan to remain united. Focusing on a young man who is separated from his mother by war and journeys through harrowing experiences from childhood into adulthood without her to protect him, it is ultimately a stirring drama about the power of maternal love. War drives them apart but love is destined to reunite them.
Altynai Nogherbek (Mariam)
Altynai has been a professional actor since 2010. She was born in Almaty, the capital of Kazakhstan. In 1997, she graduated from the Kazakh State Institute of Theater and Film named after T.K. Zhurgenov (named after historically acclaimed actor, Temirbek Zhurgenov). She studied at the Kazakh Musical Drama Theatre named after Kalibek Kuanyshbayev (named after historically acclaimed actor, Kalibek Kuanyshbayev) in Astana. Her productions have included How the stars alied , Golden Horde, and Zheruiyk.Altynai has received awards including the prestigious, Honored Worker of Kazakhstan and Best Actress at the Yalta "Eurasian Bridge" International Film Festival. Altynai is best known for the feature films, "Zhauzhürek myng bala" (2012), The Road to Mother" (2016) and "Alzhir: Blood, Washed By Snow" (2017).
Berik Aitzhanov (Lukpan)
Berik has been a professional Kazakh actor and film producer since 2000. Born in Kzyl-Orda, Berik was raised in Almaty, the capital of Kazakhstan. He studied acting in Los Angeles and was named The Best Actor of 2011 for his performance in "The Liquidator" and "Returning to the A", which appeared on the Oscar's Long List that year. Berik's career began with his performances in theater productions including his debut role in Shakespeare's classic play "Hamlet", in which he played, Laertes, the son of Polonius. Berik made his screen debut in 2005, when he was cast in the role of Rymbek Alpiyev in "Wolf Hour". Later in 2005, Berik starred in "Zastava" and "Mahambet" followed by "Mustafa Shokai", which was filmed in Prague. In 2008, Berik starred in "Brothers", a television series created and directed by acclaimed director, Akan Satayev. Berik continued to work with Akan in the 2010 action-drama film "The Liquidator", co-starring Vinnie Jones and Karlygash Muhammedzhanova.
Adil Akhmetov (Ilyas)
Adil has been a professional actor since 2006. He was born in Almaty, the capital of Kazakhstan. In 2006, he graduated from Zhurgenov Academy of Arts, receiving a diploma as an actor of film and theater. Since 2007, he has been an actor in the Zhastar Theater starring in the productions of “Genghis Khan”, “Revizor”, and “The Taming of the Shrew”. Adil is best known for roles in the feature films, “Zhauzhürek Myng Bala” (2012) and “The Road to Mother” (2016).
Aruzhan Jazilbekova (Oumit)
Aruzhan has been a professional actor since 2012. She was born in Almaty, the capital of Kazakhstan. She is a multi faceted performer in the fields of dance, modeling, and acting. At the age of sixteen, Aruzhan won a prestigious modeling contest at the Ford Models Supermodel Agency of Kazakhstan and became an international model. For the next several years she modeled in New York and Paris. In 2007, Aruzhan earned her Bachelor’s Degree in International Journalism and Mass Communications. Two years after her graduation she became chief editor of a local business magazine. Despite her success in journalism, Aruzhan decided to change her career path when she received an invitation to play the lead role in her debut film, "Swings". In 2013, Aruzhan applied to the UCLA Acting program and travelled to Los Angeles to study. In 2016, she received the Kazakhstan Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress in a leading role for the comedy, "Wedding For Three". She is best known for her latest role in “The Road To Mother” (2016).
Bolat Abdilmanov (Yeraly)
Bolat has been a professional actor since 1993. He was born in the region Taldykorgan, Kazakhstan. In 1982, he graduated the academy of arts named after T.K. Zhurgenov, (the historically acclaimed actor, Temirbek Zhurgenov). From 1993 to 2006, he worked as an actor in the Kazakh Theatre of Drama, named after M. Auezov (the historically acclaimed actor, Mukhtar Auezov). Since 2016, he has worked in the Kazakh Academic State Theatre of Drama also named after M. Auezov (the historically acclaimed actor, Mukhtar Auezov). His stage productions have included “Genius of Great Steppe” and “The Inspector General”. Bolat is best known for the feature films, “Dolphin Jump” (2009), “Zhauzhürek Myng Bala” (2012) and “The Road to Mother” (2016).
Aliya Nazarbayeva (Producer)
Aliya began her career as a producer in 2016. Born in 1980 in Almaty, the capital of Kazakhstan, she is a professional business woman and daughter of the president of the country. Her professional business background has included work in the retail and design industry, having launched her brand “Asala” throughout Central Asia. She attended Republican Music school (named after K. Bayseitova) in Kazakhstan from which she graduated in Multidisciplinary Studies. She has studied Law at both the University of Richmond in London and George Washington University in the US. In 2017, she completed and released her feature documentary Awakening which premiered at the Eurasian film festival. As a film producer, Aliya made her first feature film, The Road to Mother in 2016. Upon its release, the film became a major commercial success in Central Asia as one of the top five highest grossing films of all time.
In 2017, Aliya began to develop the historical drama Tomiris, which started principal photography in March of 2018.
Akan Satayev (Director)
Akan was born in Karaganda, Kazakhstan. After graduating high school in 1988, he worked as an assistant director in Karaganda local television. In 1994, he graduated from Almaty Institute of Theatre and Arts- with an emphasis in Television Directing. Starting in 1994, Akan directed and produced the films “Strayed” and “Zhauzhurek Myng Bala”. He graduated from the Zhurgenov Academy of Arts, receiving a diploma in Film Directing. In 2003, Akan created the “Sataifilm” production company, the largest privately held film studio in Kazakhstan to date. As a director and producer in 2007, Akan made his first feature film, “Reketir”. The film became a critical and commercial success. After two years, the thriller feature film, “The Lost” (2009) and the 6-series family saga, “Agaiyndy/Brothers” (2009) was released jointly, premiering on Kazakhstan television. In 2012, Akan received the prestigious Honored Worker of Kazakhstan award. His first English-language full-length film was “Hacker”, which was produced in 2014 with American actors, and was filmed in Canada, Thailand, Hong Kong and the United States. Astana Film Fund was founded in 2016, one of the leaders of which is Akan. The main purpose of the fund is to support Kazakhstan`s young filmmakers and continued production of commercial films. His most recent feature film, “Alone”, premiered at the Busan IFF in 2017.
Director’s Film Awards
The Road To Mother (2017) – Garnered several awards from around the world at the Ak Ilbirs National Film Awards (Kyrgyzstan), New York Eurasian Film Festival (USA), Eurasia International Film Festival (Kazakhstan), Marco Polo Film Festival (Croatia), Eurasian Bridge International Film Festival (Ukraine) and the WeLink International Film Festival (USA).
Zhauzhürek Myng Bala (2012) – Garnered the Juries Special Award at the Fajr Film Festival (Iran).
Strayed (2009) – Garnered Best Feature Film at the Neuchâtel International Fantastic Film Festival (Belgium).
Reketir (2007) – Nominated for Best International Film at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival (USA).
Interview with the Director
By Film Snob Reviews
What inspired this tale?
It was the story that my parents told me when I was about 16 years old, and it stayed with me forever. When my parents were visiting one Kazakh village in the 80’s, they witnessed how an old woman went out daily to the outskirts of this village, sat down by the road under the shadow of a large tree and peered into the distance from dawn to dusk. She did this for more than 20 years, everyday, in the rain and in the snow. As it turned out she was waiting for her son to come back from war, for which he left in the 1940’s. She was lonely and a little out of her mind, but the villagers took care of her, fed her, dressed her, and so on. I do not know how the story ended with that old woman, but it was she that planted the seed for our idea.
From what I understand you are a Kazakh? How important was it for you to give honesty to what this time was like in the country under Stalin and the CCCP?
Yes, I am Kazakh. Of course, the main principle in the narrative of our story is honesty. We wanted to be as sincere as possible to the audience so that they did not turn away. But, at the same time, we did not want to tell a politicized story. Those complicated, but key events that took place in the 20th century for our people, served as the backdrop for the human drama that we were bringing to the forefront of the story.
There’s some breathtaking cinematography here. When selecting the shot and working with Khasan Kydyraliyev, what was that process for you two?
Thank you, it is very nice to hear this. We have already made several films with Hassan and I work with him easily. I think we understand each other well. When we start producing the film, we do a lot of preparatory work. And in this period we discuss the stylistics, color and the form of the narrative, we determine for ourselves examples from the world cinema, we search for suitable locations, we make the storyboard of each scene, in a word – we try to make a film first on paper. And once on set, when we are building a frame, we already understand what we want beforehand.
Rarely if ever does a film touch me on an emotional level, but your film and its ending did just that. What do you credit that emotional punch too?
Thank you once again. Yes, many viewers do not hold back their tears while watching our film. I think it’s because of the story itself and how sincerely we tried to tell it from the screen.
I’d like to credit you with getting absolutely heart-wrenching work out of your actors. Really stellar performances!
We are absolutely satisfied with our cast; both positive and negative characters. Almost all of the main characters, with the exception of children, are professional actors.
Who inspired you as a director?
We watched a lot of films from the world cinema. I can name a few, such as “Forrest Gump” dir. R. Zemeckis, “The Ferocious One” dir, T. Okeyev, “Saving Private Ryan” directed by S.Spielberg, music by H. Zimmer and J. Williams
If you were stranded on an island and could only have two films to watch what would they be and why?
“Seven” by D. Fincher and also his “Fight Club”. I never get tired of watching them.
For all the mothers out there, do have a message of positivity and thanks, perhaps even for your own?
Yes, we have dedicated our film to all the mothers of the World. Of course, from myself, I also dedicate this film to my mother, whom I love infinitely.
Alim Zairov (Music Composer)
Alim Zairov has been a professional music composer since 2013. He started his career as both a pianist and composer. His style is characterized as touching, using a deep instrumental neoclassicism. His works have been influenced by Russian classics, as well as contemporary composers. In 2013, Alim released his first album entitled, Without Words, which was well received by critics and the public. He has been the composer of sound tracks for films including American Heist, For Me and My Brother, Toll Bar, Rayony, The Road To Mother, and Ona.
Khasan Kydyraliyev (Cinematographer)
Khasan has been a professional cinematographer since the late 1980’s. He was born in Moscow in 1960 where he graduated from VGIK (Vserossiyski Gosudarstvenny Institut Kinematografii – the All-Union State Institute of Cinematography). His government awards include People's Artist of the Kyrgyz Republic 2011, Laureate of the Union of Youth of the Kyrgyz Republic 1992, and
Laureate of the State Prize of the Kyrgyz Republic Toktogul for the film Beshkampir in 2000. Khasan has been a member of the Asian Film Academy Hong Kong since 2012. He is also a member of the National Academy of Cinemagraphic Arts and Sciences in Central Asia. His film festival awards for camera work include prizes for the feature films Stars of Shaken 2004 of the ICF, Astana-Baiterek 2004, Sardar 2002 (Astana-Baiterek Prize 2004), Shiza 2004 of the ICF (Pavel Lebeshev prize 2005), Kong Kong (Nominee Award of the Asian Film Academy),, Light-Ake 2009 (Ak-Ilbirs National Film Award 2011), and Princess Nazik 2011. His work on Kazakhstan feature films consists of Biography of the Young Accordionist 1993, Sardar 2002, Hunter of the Year 2003, The Island of the Renaissance 2003, Shiza 2004, Steppe Express 2005, The Racketeer 2006, A Gift to Stalin 2008, Lost 2009, Late Love 2009, Liquidator of the Year 2010, Trace 2011, Myn Bala 2012, The Racketeer 2 2014, and Districts 2016. Kyrgyzstan feature films include Death in the Name of Birth 1988, Valley of the Ancestors 1989, Shot in the Steppe 1990, Anomaly 1991, Where is Your House Snail? 1991, Stormy Halt 1992, Selinchek 1993, Everything Was Covered With Snow 1994, Beshkampir 1997, Maymyl 2000, Light-Ake 2009, Princess Nazik 2011, Baku, I Love You 2012, Centaur 2015, and Sayakbai 2016. Short films consist of Bashat 1994, Becket 1996, Assan Ussen 1997, At the Confluence of Two Springs, Red Butterflies 2002 (documentary), Window 2005 (documentary), and Two Girls on the Hillock 2005 (documentary). His most recent feature film awards include best camera work for Zhauzhurek Myng Bala (2014) and The Road to Mother (2016) (Tulpar Film Award).