The Way To Mecca (Mekkege Karai Jol), by Asel Zhuraeva, Kyrgyzstan, 2011 – Paris, 23 March 23, 2012.
Kyrgyz villager Sulaiman Turdubaev is 81. He lives a very simple life with his wife in Alga, in the district of Kadamja. After spending their whole lives working in the fields and raising eight children, the couple radiate a sense of fulfilment. Despite living in an almost bare house, and experiencing a power cut even while he speaks to the camera, Sulaiman says he has everything he needs. His only concern is the future of his nation’s children, who find it unable to make a proper living in their homeland.
After saving patiently all his life to be able to fulfil the Muslim duty of Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca, Sulaiman changed his mind. Instead, he decided to use the money to create a memorial to the soldiers fallen in the “Great Patriotic War” fought by the Soviet Union against Nazi Germany. One of the last two veterans, Sulaiman wants to make sure that the “young generations know their history”.
Kyrgyz director Asel Zhuraeva’s film sketches a beautiful parable of contemporary Kyrgyz history. The Kyrgyz Republic is only slightly older than Suleiman. Since independence, it has been navigating its way to modernity by referencing traditional elements of Kyrgyz culture (including Islam), paying tribute to the Soviet architects of modern Kyrgyzstan - despite all the traumatic aspects of their history – all while feeling helpless to establish a future for the country’s young people. Be it as it may, Asel Zhuraeva, a young Kyrgyz filmmaker of just 24, might have found in documentary movies her way to a successful future.
Frederique Guerin, Special Correspondent, The Global Journal.
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