The New York Eurasian Film Festival kicks off on May 20 with "Awakening," a documentary film from Kazakhstan about "green development." The film is the brainchild of Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev’s youngest daughter, Aliya Nazarbaeva.
The trailer for the 2012 documentary features scenes of green fields as Nazarbaeva talks about the potential of new energy.
WATCH: Trailer for "Awakening" (in Kazakh)
The 45-second trailer concludes with a shot of Nazarbaeva -- who is 33 -- looking longingly while mountains stretch behind her.
At the center of the documentary is Nazarbaev’s 2010 Astana Green Bridge Initiative. As the film’s official synopsis reads
, the aim is to overcome global problems such as shortages of food and drinking water, environmental pollution, overpopulation, poverty, and climate change. The intro adds that Nazarbaeva is the "successor of her father's ideas" and the one in charge of the ecological movement in oil-rich Kazakhstan.
The Green Bridge Partnership program
announced by Kazakhstan at the UN General Assembly in 2011 promotes cooperation between countries, the private sector, and organizations on green growth and green economic practices. The goal is to develop partnerships with "green" businesses and to create an environment suitable for "green" technology and investment.
The initiative was endorsed by the UN Asia-Pacific Ministerial conference in 2010 and presented at the Rio+20 UN conference
on sustainable development in 2011.
However it remains unclear how the program is being implemented in practice. According to the film's official synopsis, one example is a "modern settlement of 20 females near Almaty city" who have left the "so-called blessings of civilization."
"Awakening" appears to be Aliya Nazarbaeva’s first venture into the film industry. She is well known for opening a high-end spa in Almaty called Luxor after she was inspired during a trip to Egypt, as well as a jewelry line carried by Italian jewelry retailer Damiani. According to her biography
, she is also president of the Almatypharm corporation, director-general of Caspian Industries Ltd., and chairman of the board of Elistroy.
However, she is best known for her short-lived marriage in 1998 to Aidar Akaev, the eldest son of now-deposed Kyrgyz President Askar Akaev. Their marriage was hailed for connecting Central Asia’s ruling families.
The Eurasian film festival has been held just once before, in 2010. According to information available on its website, its goal is to promote cultural interaction between the United States and Eurasian countries.
Twenty-one films from Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Bulgaria, and Poland will be screened this week. The films span a wide array of themes such as loneliness, illness, the nomadic lifestyle, and family dynamics.
One of the festival’s jewels is “Parizod,” an Uzbek film that in September 2012 won the Grand Prix award at Kinoshok, an annual festival for movies from the Commonwealth of Independent States and the Baltics.
-- Deana Kjuka