Open Letter by the producer Gulnara SARSENOVA
Dear friends and colleagues!
The year 2020 made our humanity face an unprecedented crisis that has affected each of us. The coronavirus pandemic that has swept the world has hit the global economy, business and human wellbeing. The only thing that can help people get out of this protracted depression is the hope that life will return to normal.
I am writing this letter, not as the CEO of the State Center for the Support of National Cinema, but as the current producer, a nominee for an Oscar, a laureate of major film festivals, and most importantly, a patriot of my country.
Our domestic film industry was one of the first hit by the raging pandemic. Cinema halls closed, dozens of planned films were left with no premieres, and several thousand creative people lost their jobs and the opportunity to do what they liked.
Certainly, I understand that in these circumstances, it may seem that cinema is not such an important component of the life of our country and its citizens. There are probably more important questions. But let’s turn to our story. Do you remember that even during the years of World War II, filmmakers did not stop their work? Moreover, it was Kazakhstan that became the haven for all filmmakers of the Soviet Union during that difficult time, when the Central Association of Film Studios was created in Almaty.
After all, what is a movie for the viewer? This is not only the most accessible type of entertainment, it is also the most important element of cultural leisure, and thus, the country’s development, and, of course, one of the main tools of the ideological education of citizens.
The State Center for the Support of National Cinema, established in 2019, from the first day of its existence, has embarked on the creation of a new unprecedented panorama of the domestic film industry development, based on openness and transparency. We have left behind unofficial distribution of budget funds for film production, made our activities open not only to the professional community, but also to the audience, thereby regaining the lost confidence in state investment in the industry
At the heart of our priorities is support not only for rental leaders and distinguished filmmakers, but also for the development of such areas as debut, animation and auteur cinema.
However, the prevailing circumstances jeopardized our plans for the development and strengthening of the film process in Kazakhstan. The planned budget of the Cinema Center can be significantly cut, despite the fact that, according to the results of the second pitching, it was decided to support more than 50 film projects that raise important ideological, social and educational topics.
Of course, a reasonable question will arise: “What have you personally done to somehow influence the situation?” I answer. As a current producer, whose film “Nartay” was supported and financed by the state after the first pitching, I decided to refund the amount of 380 million KZT to the budget of the National Cinema Center that have been allocated for my project. In addition, I allocated 40 million KZT of my own funds to support short and debut projects approved by the Expert Council at the second pitching of the Cinema Center.
Now I am appealing to my colleagues-filmmakers, business representatives and other caring citizens who have the opportunity to support our industry in this difficult period. Today, more than ever, our cinema needs consolidation in your protection and support by our society.
Film producer, director, screenwriter, member of the Union of Cinematographers of the Republic of Kazakhstan, member of the Asia-Pacific Screen Academy, winner of the prestigious “Man of the Year in Asian Cinema” award at the Pusan International Film Festival, winner of 56 prestigious film awards, founder of “Eurasia Film Production” film company that performs international film projects with leading studios in Russia, America, Europe, which brought Kazakhstan numerous international nominations and awards, including an Oscar nomination, two shortlisted nominations for the same award, success in Cannes, Montreal, London, Pusan and other victories at Class A film festivals.