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HARMONY LESSONS

Germany / Kazakhstan, 2013 (MIFF 2013, Accent on Asia)

Director: Emir Baigazin

"Harmony Lessons is a bona fide tour de force … endearing and repulsive, funny and tragic, appealing and terrifying, and never short of compelling." – Film Comment

This debut feature from writer/director Emir Baigazin takes us to a school in a remote village of Kazakhstan, where 13-year-old Aslan is subjected to a racket of bullying and extortion with roots extending well beyond the schoolyard. Humiliated and ostracised, the gifted student's behaviour starts to become obsessive, fuelling his ideas for justice and revenge on his tormentor: the violent, intimidating gang leader Bolat.

A dreamlike aura offsets some of the darker subject matter, leaving us with a haunting, thought-provoking film. Though focused on a localised and specific narrative, the story also functions as a political and humanistic allegory, exploring the mechanisms of violence and marginalisation seen in nearly every society.

"Intriguing, laconic, mysterious … a Himalaya-meets-Hitchcock hybrid." – Screen

D/S Emir Baigazin P Anna Katchko, JCS Kazakhfilm WS Films Distribution L Kazakh, Russian w/English subtitles TD DCP/2013

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