Harmony Lessons

Uroki Garmonii
Kazakhstan, Germany, France, 2013
Directed by:

Dir.: Emir Baigazin
Prod.: Anna Katchko
Scr.: Emir Baigazin
Phot.: Aziz Zhambakiyev
Music: Erlan Utepbergenov
Cast: Timur Aidarbekov, Aslan Anarbayev, Mukhtar Andassov, Anelya Adilbekova
Distributor: Films Distribution
115 mins

First-time feature director Emir Baigazin presents an unflinching tale of both school and state cruelty. Aslan is a 13-year-old boy living with his grandmother in a small rural village in Kazakhstan. His life is made difficult by Bolat, the bully that rules his school. Extorting money from other students, Bolat plans to play a humiliating joke on Aslan. Aslan retreats inwards and develops an obsessive need for control and cleanliness. He devotes himself to the studies of biology, electricity, peace and war, and other stranger behaviors, such as torturing of small animals. He finds some common ground with other bullied students, none of whom can stop him from planning his revenge on Bolat.
Harmony Lessons mixes the stark realism of life in the village with symbolic imagery and an unflinching depiction of violence that makes this Darwinist story resonate far beyond a small school in the Kazakhstan countryside.


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