Review: ‘My Brother Silk Road’

The setting of this modest but evocative black-and-whiter is the vast plains, the steppes, of Kirghizstan where today a railway line parallels the route once taken by the ancient Silk Road. Technically ragged production is strictly for fest programmers looking for unusual fare from seldom-visited countries; commercial possibilities are scant.

The setting of this modest but evocative black-and-whiter is the vast plains, the steppes, of Kirghizstan where today a railway line parallels the route once taken by the ancient Silk Road. Technically ragged production is strictly for fest programmers looking for unusual fare from seldom-visited countries; commercial possibilities are scant.

Children play near the railway line, the oldest of them a domineering tyke and sensitive soul (Tamlay Imanaliev). On a train speeding by, an artist (Busurman Odurakayev) sketches portraits of his fellow passengers and romances the bored daughter (Kabatai Kyzy Elm) of a train guard (Tinar Abdrasaeva). Fleeting scenes involving other characters on the train (including a plump catering staffer who works as a part-time prostitute and singing peasants) add little. Eventually the artist is thrown off the train and meets the boy, finding a strange affinity with him. It’s a very simple film, with some pleasant touches, but rather obscure in its approach to its characters. The photography is attractive, but the ending frayed and the post-synching distracting. Director Marat Sarulu also had a short film, “The Fly Up,” in the Berlin competition.

My Brother Silk Road

Kirghizstan-Kazakhstan

Production

An Art Studio Kumai-Film Studio Kirghizfilm (Bishkek)/Firm Kino (Alma Ata) co-production. (International sales: Kirghizfilm, Bishkek, Kirghizstan.) Produced by Sain Gabdullin. Directed, written by Marat Sarulu.

Crew

Camera (B&W), Kadrijan Kidiraliev; editor, Tylek Mambetova; music, Baktybek Alisherov; production designer, Shaylobek Djekshenbayev. Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (Panorama), Feb. 16, 2002. Running time: 80 MIN.

With

Busurman Odurakayev, Tinar Abdrasaeva, Mukhambet Toktay, Kabatai Kyzy Elm, Tamlay Imanaliev, Urmat Samudunov, Japarkul Kyzy Jarkinay.
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