Five Kazakh brothers, ages five to 16, live with their parents on an extremely spare, dusty steppe in a house befitting their simple environment. Their father speaks in clipped sentences and harsh tones while driving the boys’ daily labor; their mother is largely confined to the home in this strongly patriarchal society. One day, the eldest boy, Aslan (Zhalgas Klanov) discovers a nearby river, and takes his brothers swimming. Then, their city-dwelling, technology-wielding cousin unexpectedly appears. These twin lures threaten to, perhaps irreversibly, disrupt the solitude of the homestead. The multitalented Baigazin, who wrote, produced, directed, shot, and edited The River, uses emotional and formal precision to his great advantage in this breakout film, which “might be said to exist on a continuum between Claire Denis’ masterwork Beau travail and Samira Makhmalbaf’s still-underseen The Apple. Baigazin…is a filmmaker of sensitivity and restraint.” —Michael Sicinski, Cinema Scope.
Filmography: Harmony Lessons (2013), Wounded Angel (2016)