Biography of a Young Accordion Player
Kazakhstan | 90 mins | Kazakh, Russian
This is a beautiful, semi-autobiographical chronicle of growing up in Kazakhstan in the late 1940s. The film’s main character is Eskin, a young Kazakh boy, who is fast becoming the town’s master accordion player. (Some of the songs he plays are Yiddish tunes!) The character of his best friend Yuri is based on Yuri Mamin, the acclaimed Russian-Jewish director, whose provocative films including WINDOW TO PARIS and SIDEBURNS have drawn threats and anti-Semitic remarks from Russian and Soviet officials. In the film, the child Mamin is a quiet boy, who already shows signs of amused insight into the absurdity of Soviet life. In Stalin’s Soviet Union, Kazakhstan was a place where misfits, radicals and prisoners were sent or wound up. When Eskin’s father befriends some Japanese POWs the family begins to understand the overriding control of Stalinist force. The indelible quality of this film resides in its vivid, deeply humane depictions of ordinary Kazakh, Russian, Uzbek and Japanese people and their relationships. A place and time rarely seen in the West comes to radiant life.
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