Opening 20 Aug 2009
Marie-Jaoul de Poncheville
Writing credits: Jean-François Goyet, Azamat Kadyraliev, Chingiz Aitmatov, Marie-Jaoul de Poncheville
Principal actors: Elim Kalmouratov, Albina Imasheva, Busurman Odurakaev, Hélène Patarot, Nikolai Marousitch
Filmed in Kyrgyzstan, Tengri is based on the book Jamilia by Chingiz Aitmatov. It is a simple, but beautiful love story filmed by French director Marie-Jaoul de Poncheville.
Temür returns to his native village after the loss of his wife and child. His father has died, but the villagers, who live in yurts and raise livestock, agree that he should stay. Through his eyes we observe the interaction of men and women in a traditional community, where women do most of the work and suffer at the hands of their husbands who love two things: alcohol and Allah. Temür falls in love with Amira. Her absentee husband Shamshi has dedicated his life to serving Allah and fights the Taliban in Afghanistan. Amira’s sister is a battered wife who eventually succumbs to the blows of her primitive husband. Shamshi returns from the battlefields to harass Amira so that she soon visualizes a fate similar to that of her sister. She and her lover Temür flee, first to her parents who refuse to take her in, and then through the mountains of Soviet Central Asia to freedom and a new life, with Shamshi and his drunken friends hot on their trail.
Tengri was sponsored by French and German film funding and showed at several festivals, e.g,, in Seattle and Palm Springs. The story is simple and universal (“Tengri” means “universal” or “eternal blue sky” and gives the name to an ancient religion called Tengriism). Most interesting to viewers from the Western World would probably be the beautiful, rugged, sparsely populated mountainside and the music which seems to be folk songs – also quite beautiful. Actors are Elim Kalmouratov, Albina Imasheva, and Helene Patarot. (Becky Tan)