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Interview with Director Akan Satayev By Film Snob Reviews

Updated: Jul 26, 2018

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.

Where’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.

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