Set in the desert-like steppe of Kazakhstan, this is the story of the coming of age of five brothers working on the farm of a strict father prone to violence. The oldest, Aslan (Zhalgas Klanov), starts taking over the duties of the head of the family and looking after his siblings. He also shows the boys a nearby river that becomes their favorite place to unwind. When a man with electronic gadgets shows up in their isolated village, the rhythm of their life is slowly eroded. The River is the last part of Baigazin’s informal trilogy (along with Harmony Lessons and The Wounded Angel) that has earned him acclaim at festivals around the world. Guilt, jealousy and loss of innocence are discreetly written into the relations among the brothers, whose decisions and adventures take on the status of a parable. Full of visual artistry and sensitivity, his vision of the clash between boundless nature and modernity brings to mind Nicolas Roeg’s Walkabout. The soundtrack was composed by Justyna Banaszczyk, a.k.a. FOQL.
Lisbon & Estoril FF 2018 – Jaeger - LeCoultre Best Film Award
Emir Baigazin is an actor, director and screenwriter from Kazakhstan. He was born in the village of Tamdy in the northwestern part of the country. He studied directing at the Kazakh National Academy of Arts and took part in the Asian Film Academy at the Busan International Film Festival in 2007 under the guidance of Pen-Ek Ratanaruang and Mohsen Makhmalbaf. Baigazin edits his own films, and he also did the cinematography for The River. He has won festival awards at various festivals, including Berlin and the Tribeca Film Festival.
2013 Lekcje harmonii / Uroki garmonii / Harmony Lessons
2016 Ranny anioł / Ranenyy angel / The Wounded Angel
2018 Rzeka / Ozen / The River