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Oscar Watch: Kazakhstan’s Strayed by Akan Satayev

Oscar Watch: Kazakhstan's Strayed by Akan Satayev

Paradigm is repping U.S. distribution and remake rights to Strayed, Katzakhstan’s submission for Academy Award Nomination for Best Foreign Language Oscar. They are showing it to U.S. distributors now and there is interest. It mixes genres and yet is reminiscent of Reservoir Dogs although its story has lttle similar in it nor is there the humor. It is the straightforward simplicity of the storyline which brings Reservoir Dogs to mind as well as its single location, here the desert of Katzakhstan.


Strayed by Akan Stayev starring Andrey Merklikin.

Watch the trailer here on Twitch Film.

The main character, his wife and small son lose their way and become stuck on a country road. As a result, they have to spend the night in their car. The following morning, the main character awakens alone, his wife and son having mysteriously disappeared. His preliminary searches bring the hero to a small lonely house, in which an old man and a young woman live. These strange tenants seem to know about him and his family but they seem to be trying to hide their knowledge at the same time.

This strange film, a mix of fantasy with crime with religiosity (it played in Stiges as a “mystic thriller” and at the Method Fest, a festival highlighting actors), certainly features strong acting by the popular Russian actor Andrei Merzlikin. He won the Best Actor nomination at the Eurasia Film Festival, and the film was awarded with the festival’s grand-prix. The film also won Best Motion Picture “Kulager 2009” Kazakhstan.

It is, strangely enough, very similar to the Dutch submission. In both the main character is a morally reprehensible bankrupt man who has familicide on his mind. For that reason neither will be nominated by the Academy of Motion Arts and Sciences. The Dutch man is an urbane bourgeois man and the Kazakh man is a lower class one. God and the Devil figure in one of them and has nothing to do with the other. Whatever these films are saying about our society, if they are saying anything, is the same and one leaves both feeling somewhat degraded.

The website of the Kazakh embassy writes that the director had nurtured the idea of the film for five or six years, and dreamt of creating a philosophical picture which would reflect on God, humanity and moral values.

The film mixes horror with supernatural. Such a predominant genre is another reason it will not be selected for nomination.

Other films from Kazakhstan which were very much Oscar worthy include Prisoner of the Mountains (1996 directed by Sergei Bodrov -Russia / Kazakhstan), Mongol: The Rise of Genghis Khan (2007 by Sergei Bodrov – Germany / Kazakhstan / Russia / Mongolia, Kardiogramma (1995 by Darezhan Omirbayev – Kazakhstan) and Tulpan (2009 by Sergei Dvortsevoy – Germany / Kazakhstan / Poland / Russia / Switzerland). They definitely have skilled filmmakers.

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